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  • Foreword
  • Michelangelo Zaccarello (bio)

The first missing aspect is that, up to now, almost without exception, no scholarly electronic edition has presented material which could not have been presented in book form, nor indeed presented this material in a manner significantly different from that which could have been managed in print.

(P. Robinson, Where We Are with Electronic Scholarly Editions, and Where We Want to Be,

Just a few years ago, Peter Robinsona true pioneer of digital humanities — pointed out that the majority of digital scholarly editions did not feature contents or methodological solutions that could not be expressed by traditional critical editions on paper. The rapid development of innovative solutions in markup languages and web design, however, has led digital scholarly editions to work more and more independently from the categories and criteria of their paper counterparts in the establishment of text and in the storage and display of variants and documents.

This issue of Textual Cultures publishes some of the papers presented at the fifth meeting of the Filologia Digitale series — managed by Adele Cipolla at the Università di Verona — just over a year ago (15–16 June 2018). The meeting, which enjoyed the precious help of Anna Maria Babbi and her PhD students at various stages of its organization, was devoted to the theme Edizioni e testi “born digital”: problemi di metodo e prospettive di lavoro (Born-digital editions and texts: theories, working approaches and methods). Both Verona and Pisa have been at the forefront in the application of Digital Humanities to philology and textual criticism, especially for medieval texts. In fact it was the University of Pisa’s Dipartimento di Filologia, Letteratura e Linguistica in collaboration with the Institute of Information Science and Technology at Pisa (ISTI), part of Consiglio Nazionale delle [End Page 1] Ricerche (CNR), that designed and built Dante Sources (, voted best DH tool or suite of tools at the DH Awards for 2015.

Featuring some of the most prominent experts in digital scholarly editions of various fields of medieval studies (Mid-Latin, Romance, Germanic and Italian philologies), the colloquium aimed to outline the main methodological solutions shared by recent editions developed and based entirely on the web, with related philological and conservation issues posed by more recent “born digital” literature and its online circuit of publishing, reading, scholarly and/or teaching applications. Such aspects have long attracted due scholarly attention in the English-speaking world, in terms of both editorial theory (e.g., Greetham 1999, Shillingsburg 2006) and applied technology (e.g., Kirschenbaum 2016), but still need to be addressed comprehensively in the field of Italian textual scholarship, as may be also seen by the limited space usually allocated to these issues in university textbooks.

Direct contacts and exchange between the Italian and the American scholarly editing traditions are limited, as may be clearly seen by the scarce examples of translation of Anglo-American philological theory into Italian or vice versa. With its scholarly tradition in both Classical and Romance philology, however, Italy has greatly influenced the maturing of modern theories and practices of scholarly editing, pioneering the philological study of authorial drafts in the 1920s (Moroncini 1927 on Leopardi’s poetry): usually associated to other philological traditions (French, German) and to more recent — especially nineteenth-century — literature, this kind of Italian critique génétique was soon to be applied to Renaissance authors such as Ludovico Ariosto (Debenedetti 1937). It is surely not an isolated case: in this volume, Diego Perotti’s essay outlines the complex editorial problem of Torquato Tasso’s lyric poetry (Rime), witnessed by a number of holograph manuscripts and printed copies annotated by the author.

Even from a theoretical standpoint, Italian scholars may be credited with the anticipation of key concepts such as “social text”. For instance, Pasquali (1934; a must-read in Classical studies, which has not yet been translated into English) started to draw scholarly editors’ attention on the reception history of texts (storia della tradizione), describing the latter as “spring water” that absorbs the taste of both the rocks surrounding its source and the...


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