The annotation of historical and literary texts in the age of social media
The annotation of historical and literary texts is approached differently by traditional philologists and digital philologists. The former are concentrated on the detailed study of a given text (close reading) while the latter are focused on the study of large quantities of texts (distant reading). A structured and collaborative annotation makes it possible both to add information to particular passages of individual texts, as in a traditional linear comment, and to connect data from entire textual collections through rigorous protocols. However, the standards developed by digital philologists are not highly appreciated by traditional academics, since the effort necessary to apply the proposed technologies allegedly diverts researchers’ attention from the object of study. As opposed to this objection, we intend to highlight that it is indeed possible to maintain the precision requisite for the application of computational tools to digital resources without renouncing the annotation practices established in traditional contexts. In support of the method, we report a number of case studies of digital scientific editions whose goals include both reconstructing respective texts and encouraging the dissemination of contents and public participation in the academic debate. In particular, we will discuss the following projects: a) the stylistic annotation of three different editions of Giacomo Leopardi’s translation of the Batracomiomachia; b) the scientific edition of Bellini’s letters; c) the multi-level annotated edition of Bassani; and d) the comparison of Umberto Eco’s variants of his Il nome della rosa.