The Virtual Humanities Lab at Brown University (VHL) was created in 2004 thanks to a two-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The VHL builds on the work done by Brown scholars over the past 15 years in the Departments of Italian Studies, History and History of Art and Architecture, in collaboration with the Brown Scholarly Technology Group and scholars worldwide. Its goal is to develop digital resources for the study and teaching of Italian literature, history and culture, from the Middle Ages to the 21st-century.

Lab People (see individual project pages for a complete list of contributors and collaborators)

  • Director: Massimo Riva (Italian Studies)
  • Brown Advisory Board: Evelyn Lincoln (History of Art & Architecture), Andrew Ashton, Director, Library Digital Technologies (Center for Digital Scholarship), Elli Mylonas, Associate Director (Center for Digital Scholarship).
  • Worldwide Advisory Board: Guyda Armstrong (University of Manchester, UK); Francesco Borghesi (University of Sydney, Australia); Dino Buzzetti (University of Bologna, Italy); Massimo Lollini (University of Oregon at Eugene); Michael Papio (University of Massachusetts at Amherst); Federica Pedriali (University of Edinburgh, UK); Ernesto Priani Saiso (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico); Francesca Tomasi (Centro Risorse per la Ricerca - Multimedia, University of Bologna, Italy); Marialaura Vignocchi (Alma Mater Digital Library, University of Bologna, Italy); Vika Zafrin (Digital Librarian, Boston University).

In its current scope, the VHLaboratory provides a portal for interdisciplinary projects in Italian Studies at Brown and a platform for the encoding and annotations of a mini-corpus of late Medieval and humanist texts, including: Giovanni Villani, Nuova Cronica; Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron and Esposizioni sopra la Comedia di Dante; Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Oratio De Hominis Dignitate and Conclusiones Nongentae. This platform is accessible to participating collaborators only. Blog: Experiments in Scholarsourcing. To become a collaborator, contact us at: vhl@brown.edu

Medieval & Modern Projects

Decameron Web

Decameron Web

This XML electronic edition of Boccaccio's Decameron and other works, and the accompanying hypermedia archive of contextual materials, are conceived as an encyclopedic gateway into late Medieval life and culture. The Decameron Web was awarded two consecutive NEH grants for the years 1998-2002. The guiding question of this project is how contemporary informational technology can facilitate and enhance the complex cognitive and learning activities involved in reading a late medieval literary text such as Boccaccio's masterpiece. Scholars, students and teachers can contribute to the development of this site with essays and multimedia projects that illustrate aspects of Medieval culture and history.

Progetto Pico / Pico Project

Progetto Pico / Pico Project

The Brown-University of Bologna Pico Project began as a collaborative online annotated edition of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola's Oration on Human Dignity (1486), presented here in its first printed edition (Bologna, 1496). It now includes Pico's Conclusiones Nongentae Disputandae (1486), or 900 Theses, an extraordinary attempt at a synthesis and "reconciliation" of all known philosophical and theological ideas. Using the VHLaboratory platform, scholars and students of Pico can contribute to the translation and annotation of the Theses from anywhere in the world. Additional texts by and on Pico will be added in the near future, including digital versions of the incunabola held at the Brown and Bologna libraries.

Florentine Renaissance Resources: Online Catasto of 1427

Florentine Renaissance Resources

This site gives access to a database (c. 165,000 records) with information about office holders of the Florentine Republic during its 250-year history. The data base was developed initially by Professor David Herlihy at Harvard and Brown Universities, and then completed under the direction of Professors R. Burr Litchfield and Anthony Molho at Brown with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Preservation and Access, and the Brown University Center for Computing and Information Services and Scholarly Technology Group. An edition of the Tre Maggiori, Guild elections and Birth registrations is now available. The Gazeteer gives access to a database of ca. 750 items that can be located on the Buonsignori map of 1584/94.

The Theater that was Rome

The Theater that was Rome

This selection of works from the extraordinary collection of Vincent J. Buonanno '66, focuses on printed views, maps and illustrated books from and about the Eternal City from the 16th-18th centuries. Along with illustrated books, festival prints and architectural treatises from the collection of the John Hay Library, and Francesca Consagra's inventories of the de Rossi print shops, it provides a source for studying the printed production of and about Rome in the early modern period. Project director: Evelyn Lincoln (History of Art and Architecture).

Modern & Contemporary Studies

Garibaldi

Garibaldi & Risorgimento Project

The Garibaldi / Risorgimento digital archive seeks to provide a comprehensive resource for the interdisciplinary study and teaching of the life and deeds of one of the major protagonists of the Italian unification process (1807-1882), reconstructed with the help of materials from special collections at the Brown University libraries. At the heart of this digital archive is a dynamic visualization of the Hay library's unique Garibaldi moving panorama, which will allow users to experience the original spectacle of its display.

N2K: Narratives for the Next Millennium

N2K: Narratives for the Next Millennium

This project is linked to a pedagogical experiment, a hybrid between a literature and a creative writing course focused on the work of Italo Calvino and Umberto Eco. Students adopt Calvino's categories of lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, multiplicity and consistency along with the concepts of hyper-history and hyper-plot derived from Eco, as experimental values for a new type of digital narrative and critical writing. This site will feature the best work of students enrolled in the course, as well as hypertextual and digital narratives by guest artists.

Digital Pinocchio

Digital Pinocchio: Reflections on the Post-Human

This pedagogical experiment approaches Carlo Lorenzini's (Collodi's) "coming of age" tale from a contemporary angle, focusing on Pinocchio as a "technological construct" and an icon of emerging artificial intelligence and life. Students look at Pinocchio's many avatars (manifestations or reincarnations) in various media: from print to early and contemporary cinema, from traditional puppetry to avant-garde theatre, from TV to the internet, following Pinocchio's evolution from puppet-child to robotic computerized and virtual persona. As a final project, students will build their own ("real" or "virtual") Pinocchio (character and/or story), on a digital platform.

Electronic Journals

Heliotropia

Heliotropia

A peer-reviewed electronic journal created to provide a widely and readily available forum for research and interpretation to an international community of Boccaccio scholars. Edited by Michael Papio, Heliotropia is the official journal of the American Boccaccio Association.

Lectura Dantis online

Lectura Dantis online

The online version of Lectura Dantis, a journal of Dante research and interpretation edited by the late Tibor Wlassics and published twice a year by the Italian Program, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese at the University of Virginia from 1987 to 1998. The first four issues (now out of print) are being made available here to the general public. As the site continues to grow, selected articles from other numbers will be included in their entirety. As an additional benefit to our readers, abstracts of published articles are also available.

Journal of Modern Italian Studies

Journal of Modern Italian Studies

The Journal of Modern Italian Studies (JMIS) is the leading English language forum for debate and discussion on modern Italy. This peer-reviewed journal publishes four issues a year, each containing scholarly articles, book reviews and review essays relating to the political, economic, cultural, and social history of modern Italy from 1700 to the present. Many issues are thematically organized and the JMIS is especially committed to promoting the study of modern and contemporary Italy in international and comparative contexts. As well as specialists and researchers, the JMIS addresses teachers, educators and all those with an interest in contemporary Italy and its history.