Online seminar “Attributive philology and digital analysis of literary texts” (December 10-11, 2020, held in Italian)


How can text databases help in the analysis of literary texts? Pasquale Stoppelli talks about it with Paolo Mastandrea.

WhenWhereLanguageAdditional information
December 10, 2020, 2 PM CET
December 11, 2020, 10 AM CET
Online (Zoom)ItalianInvitation link:
Meeting ID: 738 1890 3072
Passcode: HFC-HOR


How does philological practice change in the digital age? How can the potential of information technology be applied to the study of literary texts? What is the role played by large text databases in literary criticism and how can they be effectively interrogated? The conversation between Pasquale Stoppelli, Former Professor at “La Sapienza” University of Rome and co-author of Letteratura Italiana Zanichelli (LIZ), and Paolo Mastandrea, Full Professor of Latin Language and Literature at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and head of several electronic corpora of Latin poetry, including Musisque Deoque (MQDQ) and Poeti d’Italia in lingua latina, tries to answer questions like these.

Information about the event

The seminar is part of the cycle of events “New horizons. How to renew the humanities” (HFC-HOR 2020) organised by the Humanities for Change network, promoted by the Venice Centre for Digital and Public Humanities (VeDPH) and financed with funds for student activities of Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. The event will be held in Italian.

During the seminar will be presented the new book by P. Stoppelli, L’equivoco del nome. Rime incerte fra Dante Alighieri e Dante da Maiano, Roma, Salerno Editrice, 2020.

We recommend a free ticket booking on Eventbrite (which involves reserving a seat in the virtual room) at the link: During the seminar it will be possible to intervene live by activating microphone and webcam.

At the end of the event, audience is asked to fill in the satisfaction questionnaire available at:

Articulation and content

The transition from paper text to electronic text is bringing about a revolution no less epochal than the one that sanctioned, at the dawn of the 16th century, the transition from the manuscript to the printed book civilization. Digital textuality, in fact, is turning some of the paradigms of the printing age, starting from the diffusion of liquid canons and volatile texts against the fixity and stability of the inked page. But it is also slowly redefining the methodologies of humanistic research in the field of literary criticism and ecdotic practice, introducing new electronic tools to support scholars.

The aim of the seminar is to provide some methodological advice on the use of information technology for the exegesis and philology of texts. How should the relationship between philology and information technology be developed? How to make digital tools a “means” and not the ultimate “goal” of humanistic research?

During the first meeting (Thursday, December 10, 2020, 2.00 PM CET) some large databases of literary texts will be presented, such as the Letteratura Italiana Zanichelli (LIZ) and, in the classical field, the Latin poetry database Musisque Deoque (MQDQ). Starting from the conception of technology as a heuristic means capable of detecting certain aspects and phenomena of textuality that the eye and memory would not be able to grasp (lexical and metric-verbal occurrences first of all), the aim of information technology applied to literary texts will be identified in the restitution of information that, due to its complexity, goes beyond individual acquisition capabilities. Finally, we will stress the provisional nature of the data found, which require the scholar’s interpretation and their inclusion in an argumentative framework that accounts for historical and linguistic reasons.

The second meeting (Friday, 11 December 2020, 10.00 AM CET) will review some of the potential of literary text databases in relation to literary attributions, highlighting how the querying of databases makes it possible to conduct stylistic expertise and other advanced research (also at the phonic level) to try to clarify some of the authorial’s doubts or, more generally, to ascertain the degree of adherence of a text to a given genre. The methodological principles of attributive philology will be accompanied by the timely presentation of some case studies, which will be selected especially among those discussed in P. Stoppelli, L’equivoco del nome. Rime incerte fra Dante Alighieri e Dante da Maiano, Roma, Salerno Editrice, 2020.


The meeting will be moderated by Marco Sartor (University of Parma) and Irene Mamprin.

For any need and report, please write to events[at]humanitiesforchange[dot]org.


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