Prof. Massimo Lollini and his collaborators completed the project “Petrarch Early Manuscripts and Incunabula in the Oregon Petrarch Open Book” in September 2013.
In 2012 Lollini received an ACLS Digital innovation grant for the project “Petrarch’s Early Manuscripts and Incunabula in the Oregon Petrarch Open Book,” an open source, open access initiative designed for students, scholars, teachers, and translators to read and investigate selected manuscripts and early printed editions of Petrarch’s magnum opus that have been instrumental to its interpretation from its first release in 1362 until today.
Working from transcriptions generated using T-PEN a web-based tool for working with images of manuscripts developed at Saint Louis University, the collaborators of the project have digitized and encoded in TEI P5 three key copies of Petrarch’s Rerum vulgarium fragmenta (Canzoniere): the late 14th-century manuscript copy from the Queriniana Library in Brescia, D II 21; the Queriniana Library’s copy of the first printed edition (editio princeps) of the Rvf published in Venice in 1470 (Inc. Queriniano G V 15), and Alessandro Vellutello’s Renaissance commentary of the Rvf, which helped to foster the birth of French Petrarchism. During the ACLS grant, the images in the Incunabulum were also described in basic format and TEI encoding, providing the foundation for exploring visual and textual relationships that Lollini plans to further develop in next grant proposal.
The dissemination of this project started in Spring 2012 when it was still in the very early stages. Lollini announced the project in a paper entitled “Oregon Petrarch Open Book Project” at the Symposium on Textualities in the Digital Age held at the University of Oregon on April 14, 2012. In Spring 2013 Lollini published an article entitled “Petrarch’s Early Manuscripts and Incunabula in the Oregon Petrarch Open Book” in Humanist Studies & the Digital Age, a peer- reviewed e-journal devoted to the reformulation of received philological and philosophical ideas of writing and reading literary works, motivated by the advent of electronic texts.
Lollini presented this project in a paper entitled “Petrarch’s Open Book from the Editio Princeps (Inc. Queriniano G V 15) to Digital Culture” at the International Conference on Petrarch and His Legacies held at the University of Wisconsin, March 4-5, 2013; and in a paper entitled “Encoding Text and Images in the Oregon Petrarch Open Book” presented at the American Association of Italian Studies conference held in Eugene, Oregon, April 11-13, 2013. Jelena Todorovic and Ernesto Livorni will publish Lollini’s paper in the proceedings of the International Conference on Petrarch and His Legacies forthcoming in 2014 in the ACMRS (Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies). Lastly, Lollini refers to this project in two papers: the first one entitled “Philology and Sensemaking in the OPOB” presented at the Symposium on Digital French and Italian held on October 31 at Dartmouth College; he will present the second one entitled “Natura parens from Bernardus Silvestris’ Cosmographia to Petrarch’s Canzoniere” at the 60th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, New York Hilton Midtown, 27–29 March 2014.
Since the publication of these new digital assets, the Oregon Petrarch Open Book being developed in the last ten years at the University of Oregon, allows scholars and students from all over the world to appreciate both the importance of the material support and the evolution of the text of this masterpiece of Italian and world literature, as well as its metamorphoses moving from manuscript culture to early print and digital culture.
This achievement represent the best incarnation of Lollini’s passion for literature and the central idea of his research and teaching: the classics from the past, like Petrarch, are contemporary to the future, they help us understand not only the present age, but also and above all, the difference that they represent, the appreciation of their not yet fully developed and understood meaning.