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Digital Publishing for the Humanities: Some Theoretical and Methodological Remarks, Presenter: ​Massimo Riva, Brown University

This event is organised by the Sydney Digital Humanities Research Group in collaboration with the University Library and the Department of Italian Studies

In the age of data mining, distant reading, and cultural analytics, scholars increasingly rely upon automated, algorithm-based procedures in order to parse the exponentially growing databases of digitized textual and visual resources. While these new trends are dramatically shifting the scale of our objects of study, from one book to millions of books, from one painting to millions of images, the most traditional outputs of humanistic scholarship— the critical edition of classic works from the past and the single author monograph—have maintained their institutional pre-eminence in the academic world, while showing the limitations of their printed format. Whereas, however, the reconfiguration of critical editions on the digital platforms has been the focus of extensive methodological discussion in the past two decades, also going through a number of  innovative implementations, the monograph has lagged behind. Recent initiatives, such as the AHRC-funded Academic Book of the Future in the U.K. and the Andrew W. Mellon-funded digital publishing initiative in the U.S., have answered the need to envision new forms of scholarly publication on the digital platform, and in particular the need to design and produce a digital equivalent to, or substitute for, the printed monograph. Libraries, academic presses and a number of scholars across a variety of disciplines are participating in this endeavour, debating key questions in the process, such as: What is an academic book?  Who are its readers? What can technology do to help make academic books more accessible and sharable without compromising their integrity and durability? Yet, a more fundamental question remains to be answered, as our own idea of what a “book” is (or was) and does (or did) evolves: how can a digital, “single-author” monograph, or, for that matter, a collaborative digital edition, effectively draw from the growing field of networked culture, without losing those characteristics that made them perhaps the most stable forms of humanistic culture since the Gutenberg revolution? This lecture will address these questions focusing on two pilot projects of the Brown University Digital Publishing initiative, generously supported by the Mellon foundation.

Massimo Riva is Professor of Italian Studies and Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. Educated in both Italy and the U.S., Massimo Riva has taught at Brown since 1990. His most recent books include: Pinocchio Digitale. Post-umanesimo e Iper-romanzo (Digital Pinocchio. Posthumanism and the Hypernovel, Milan, 2012), and Il futuro della letteratura. L'opera letteraria nell'epoca della sua (ri)producibilità digitale (The Future of Literature. The literary work of art in the age of its digital [re]production, Naples, 2011). He is the editor of Italian Tales. An Anthology of Contemporary Italian Fiction (Yale, 2004) and the co-editor (with F. Borghesi and M. Papio) of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Oration on the Dignity of Man. A New Translation and Commentary (Cambridge, 2012). His NEH and ACLS-Mellon supported digital projects are now part of the Virtual Humanities Lab that he directs. They include the Decameron Web, the Pico Project, and the Garibaldi Panorama and the Risorgimento archive. This project was featured in the Italian pavilion at the 23rd general conference of the International Council of Museums, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2013, and various exhibits, at the British Library in London and museums in Italy and the U.S. He is currently at work on a digital monograph tentatively entitled: Italian Shadows. The Virtual Life of Casanova and Other Tales of Imaginary or Forgotten Media, selected for the Brown Digital Publication Initiative funded by a grant of the Mellon Foundation.

Wednesday 22 November 2017
4:00pm - 5:30pm
Fisher Seminar Room (218), level 2

Event Organizer

Anne Goodfellow