Online bronnen (1): Italiaanse literatuur

Met de aankomende verhuizing van de bibliotheek Bungehuis (ivm de bouw- en verbouwplannen van de UvA, zie o.a. recent bericht in Folia) – en de daaruit voortvloeiende beperktere ruimte voor de fysieke boekencollectie – wordt het steeds belangrijker om te gaan kijken welke alternatieven zijn beschikbaar op internet als het gaat bijvoorbeeld om literaire werken.

Colonna HypnerotomachiaDe Biblioteca italiana van Università La Sapienza in Roma biedt een gevarieerd aanbod aan digitale primaire teksten:
– de reeks Scrittori d’Italia, gepubliceerd door uitgever Laterza tussen 1910 en 1987, die bevat 179 werken van de Italiaanse literatuur uit de 13e t/m 19e eeuw;
– 1.600 gedigitaliseerde Incunaboli, afkomstig uit 70 Italiaanse en Buitenlandse bibliotheken: ‘klassiekers’ zoals de Hypnerotomachia Poliphili van Francesco Colonna, uitgegeven door Aldo Manuzio in 1499 in Venezia (zie afbeelding hiernaast), horen bij deze collectie.
– de zogenaamde Collezioni speciali, waar de focus ligt op een specifieke auteur of werk, in originele edities: de Cortegiano van Baldassarre Castiglione en de Orlando Furioso van Ludovico Ariosto zijn de eerste titels van deze collectie.

Een ander initiatief, dat het erfgoed van Italiaanse bibliotheken wil helpen conserveren én promoten – met digitalisering van primaire bronnen (historische drukken, briefwisselingen enz.) als vrij gangbaar gevolg – is Memofonte: de nadruk ligt op kunsthistorische teksten, zowel van artiesten (o.a. Michelangelo Buonarroti, zie afbeelding hieronder) als van critici en historici (van Vasari tot Giulio Carlo Argan).

Memofonte Buonarroti

Een collectie teksten is ook die van de Biblioteca della letteratura italiana: hoewel het gaat om een initiatief van de prestigieuze uitgever Einaudi, kan deze website – eerder dan de voorgaande twee (beide opgezet en onderhouden door publieke onderwijs- en onderzoeksinstellingen) – lijden aan problemen van duurzaamheid (=plotseling uit de lucht zijn). Naast enig overlap met de Biblioteca Italiana (13e t/m 19 eeuw), biedt de collectie van Einaudi ook enkele recentere teksten, onder andere van Dino Campana, Ippolito Nievo en Italo Svevo.

Een Italiaanse schrijver die beslist niet verlegen zit aan wetenschappelijke online bronnen is ten slotte Dante Alighieri:
– de pionier Dartmouth Dante Project (ontwikkeld in 1982-88) «is an ongoing effort to put the entire texts of more than 75 commentaries [van de Commedia] into a searchable database that anyone can access»;
– nauw verbonden aan het Dartmouth initiatief is de Princeton Dante Project, die – net zoals de Digital Dante van Columbia University, oorspronkelijk uit 1990 en weer gelanceerd eind 2014 – biedt een combinatie van kritische uitgaven, illustraties uit oude drukken, bio-bibliografische informatie en secundaire literatuur over verschillende werken van Dante.

Afbeelding hieronder, met Dante e la Divina Commedia, van Domenico di Michelino (1465, Firenze, Santa Maria del Fiore) komt uit de website van Columbia College.

Dante College Columbia

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Online collectie Spaanse boeken beschikbaar

Een totaal van 231 titels over Spaanse taal, literatuur en cultuur is sinds kort beschikbaar via de UvA-bibliotheek: de titels zijn te vinden zowel via de bibliotheekcatalogus als via de database Torrossa.

Off-campus toegang alleen mogelijk voor UvA-studenten en -mederwerkers, zie voor meer info hier.

torrossa detail

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Collini’s What are universities for? – Deel 5

RembrandtHet onderwerp van dit laatste post met citaten uit Stefan Collini’s boek is bibliometrie (citaten ‘Meten is weten?’) ofwel «de interpretatie van statistische gegevens betreffende boeken en tijdschriften, bv. betreffende het lokaal, regionaal of landelijk gebruik daarvan» (Dikke Van Dale). Bibliometrie speelt ook een rol in het onderwijs informatievaardigheden die mijn collega’s en ik geven aan de UvA en aan universiteiten over de hele wereld: des te interessanter te kijken naar de rol van bibliometrie in het bredere kader van de universiteitswereld (en haar huidige perikelen).

Meten is weten? (1)
«The premise of the exercise [i.e. ‘bibliometry’] is that categories must be uniform. For the purposes of developing ‘bibliometric methods’ it is no good whingeing that editing early-medieval Latin texts is a touch different from conducting research in particle physics; just make sure we have a number in each box, will you? Even leaving aside for the moment the question of the point of such an exercise and the uses to which the ‘data’ will be put, and even leaving aside the whole question of judgments of quality and significance to be made between publications, it should still be obvious that even for the task of simply recording the publications of those working in universities, a far more variegated and nuanced set of categories would be required. Where are we to place activities, crucial to others’ scholarship, such as compiling dictionaries or editing texts? […] Many more objections of this kind might be made […] But again the Voice of Realism pipes up: ‘Surely it is not unreasonable to ask those employed at public expense to provide some record of their activities?’ […] No one would suggest that we should not collectively keep records of our publications. That we do already. The question is, what difference will the development of ‘bibliometric methods’ make?» (p. 124).

Meten is weten? (2)
«‘Bibliometric methods’ will not provide any ‘objective’ criteria here [i.e. judgment of publications’ quality]; they will simply iron out differences in category appropriate to each discipline. There is, in other words, no point in trying to devise a set of categories of publication appropriate to all disciplines unless you intend to reduce the extent to which decisions rest on judgment by peers and increase the extent to which they rest on measurement by administrators. It is not just that someone still has to discriminate a good piece of work from a mediocre one, or that there might be other considerations altogether to take into account in making the decision. It is that a uniform set of categories will be an obstacle and not an adjunct to making peer-group assessments. Those qualified to make such an assessment will have in effect to ignore the categories the ‘database’ presents and recognize what a review-essay or a letter to Nature or whatever means in their own field. So, the clear implication is that this information will be used to make decisions, primarily about funding, by those who are not qualified to judge (if they are qualified to judge, then casting the information into inappropriate uniform categories will only be a hindrance). ‘Bibliometric methods’ will provide a spurious sense of judging by objective criteria» (pp. 125-126).

Het Zelfportret van Rembrandt kom uit de website Think humanities Amsterdam.

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Collini’s What are universities for? – Deel 4

KafkaDit nieuwe ‘Collini’-post gaat over de relaties tussen hoger onderwijs en samenleving (citaten ‘De buitenwereld’): daarom voortvloeit hij uit de voorgaande aflevering (‘Universiteit géén bedrijf’ en ‘Investeren in de universiteit’) én vormt hij ook een bruggetje naar het volgende (en laatste) post met citaten uit het boek van Stefan Collini (‘Meten is weten?’).

De buitenwereld (1)
«Defensiveness of another kind comes into play when universities are asked to demonstrate that they are actually doing what they say they are doing […] The interest of ‘the public’, it is argued, needs to be enforced by installing mechanisms for properly public scrutiny. And these will tend to be the most mechanical of mechanisms because they must translate complex and elusive human achievements into some kind of measurable ‘data’ that are comprehensible to a non-expert public. But what if the activity being scrutinized is not, beyond a certain minimal level, susceptible to effective regulation of this kind, since its quality is a matter of informed judgement? In such cases, a substitute has to be found, something that can stand proxy for the real activity so that the appearance of public scrutiny can be maintained […] What is asked for now is not any insight into how learning happens or how minds may be enlarged, but a confirmation to third parties that the announced procedures have been followed. It is another example of the fallacy of accountability – that is, the belief that the process of reporting on an activity in the approved form provides some guarantee that something worthwhile has been properly done […] The reliance on publicly scrutinizable procedures as a substitute for reasoned argument involves an endless deferral of judgement, or at the very least its burial under layers of ostensibly value-neutral bureaucratese»
(p. 107-109).

De buitenwereld (2)
«… the ancient Athenians talked of ‘citizens’ rather than ‘tax-payers’, which in itself tended to make for a better class of discussion. But they were also not so likely to make the common contemporary mistake of confusing accountability with judgement. A process of external scrutiny can determine whether the money allocated for research has indeed been spent on research, or whether instead a particular department blew it all on a staff outing to EuroDisney followed by an extravagant meal at a Paris restaurant. That is accountability. But such a process of external scrutiny cannot really determine whether any of the members of that department are thinking valuable thoughts» (p. 139) «… it’s usually at about this point in the argument that an appearance is made by one of the more bizarre and exotic products of the human imagination, namely a wholly fictive place called ‘the real world’. This sumptuously improbable fantasy is quite unlike the actual world you and I live in […] this invented entity called ‘the real world’ is inhabited exclusively by hard-faced robots who devote themselves single-mindedly to the task of making money. They work and then they die […] Personally, I’ve never been able to take this so-called ‘real world’ very seriously. It’s obviously the brainchild of cloistered businessmen, living in their ivory factories and out of touch with the kinds of things that matter to ordinary people like you and me» (p. 144-145).

Het Kafka-plaatje komt uit de website Think humanities Amsterdam.

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Collini’s What are universities for? – Deel 3

Van-GoghHet eerste post van het jaar is wederom in het teken van Stefan Collini’s boek What are universities for? (en is daarom bedoeld ook als commentaar op de huidige situatie bij de Faculteit Geesteswetenschappen van de UvA). Of het bedrijfsmodel geschikt is voor universiteiten (citaat ‘Universiteit géén bedrijf’) en wat dient verstaan te worden onder ‘investering’ in het geval van hoger onderwijs (citaat ‘Investeren in de universiteit’) zijn de onderwerpen die de aandacht krijgen bij deze ‘aflevering’.

Universiteit géén bedrijf
«Commercial businesses, in this respect unlike universities, are almost entirely about instrumental goods. The return on capital is their governing criterion, and quite properly so […] Moreover, because the goal of a business is quantitative, it can be measured […] But because most of the important goals of a university are not quantitative, they can’t be measured; they will need, as I’ve already suggested, to be judged. This can be a difficult notion for people to accept. We tend these days to be highly suspicious of the notion of judgement, fearing that it too easily masks prejudice, snobbery, or even favouritism. By contrast, we trust measurement because it seems to be public, objective, and even democratic. But the trouble is, as I’ve already insisted, that not everything that counts can be counted. Sometimes we can only know if something is a good example of its kind by the view taken of it in the long term by those competent to judge […] Another problem arising out of the analogy I’m discussing is that businesses which make a similar product are necessarily in competition with each other. But this is only true in a metaphorical sense for universities; scholarship is in fact an inherently cooperative enterprise […] universities are not in fact rival firms because they’re not ‘firms’ in the first place». (pp. 138-140)

Investeren in de universiteit
«Reliance on overly individualistic and economistic premises repeatedly drives public discussion of universities up various kinds of blind alleys. Thus, it is sometimes argued that there is no reason why those who do not themselves go to university should contribute, through their taxes, to the costs of those who do. But this is to treat university education and whatever flows from it as a purely private good. I may choose not to have children, but I am happy to contribute to the costs of maternity hospitals, primary schools, and so on because I want to live in a society that makes civilized provisions for these things. […] I am suggesting that we do already, in all kinds of ways, recognize the claims on us of public goods, from defence through health and welfare to education and culture, and so elaborating and extending the logic of these claims is one potentially fruitful way to advance understanding of, and support for, the character of universities» (pp. 97-98). «… the degree to which large elements of research funding are now confined to so-called ‘national priorities’ – topics which the government itself, not the researchers in the relevant fields, deems it ‘worth’ researching – constitutes a level of direct interference that simply would not have been countenanced twenty years ago. Similarly, the imposition of commercial priorities and the requirement that universities serve the needs of business has reflected the growing confidence of those who speak for ‘the economy’ that they have an unchallengeable legitimacy which they believe those who represent culture, intellect, and education simply cannot match» (p. 196).

Het plaatje met het Zelfportret van Vincent van Gogh komt uit de website Think humanities Amsterdam.

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Collini’s What are universities for? – Deel 2

Brain Hieronder weer een paar citaten uit het boek van Stefan Collini:
– wat zijn/doen de Geesteswetenschappen? (citaat ‘Humaniora'; zie ook de post over Hannah Arendt);
– wat is onderzoek? En wat is begrijpen, en een intellectuele uitdaging aangaan (citaten ‘Intellectual endeavour'; zie ook mijn post The legitimacy of an intellectual endeavor op de blog Library 333);

Humaniora
«Going beyond lexicography, it may be helpful to say that the label ‘the humanities’ is now taken to embrace that collection of disciplines which attempt to understand, across barriers of time and culture, the actions and creations of other human beings considered as bearers of meaning, where the emphasis tends to fall on matters to do with individual or cultural distinctiveness and not on matters which are primarily susceptible to characterization in purely statistical or biological terms» (p. 64) «The humanities, it has been well said, ‘explore what it means to be human: the words, ideas, narratives and the art and artefacts that help us make sense of our lives and the world we live in: how we have created it and are created by it’. The forms of enquiry grouped together under this label are ways of encountering the record of human activity in its greatest richness and diversity. To attempt to deepen our understanding of this or that aspect of that activity is an intelligible and purposeful expression of disciplined human curiosity and is – insofar as the phrase makes any sense in this context – an end in itself» (p. 85). «For example, every literary scholar’s awareness of the range of significant writing by women in earlier centuries has been extended in ways never imagined a couple of generations ago, just as there are now whole areas of social and cultural history which barely existed before historians began systematically to quiz the evidence from earlier centuries about the activities of that half of the population which scarcely figured in many public records» (p. 67-68).

Intellectual endeavour (1)
«Intellectual enquiry is in itself ungovernable: there is no predicting where thought and analysis may lead when allowed to play freely over almost any topic, as the history of science abundantly illustrates […] Human understanding, when not chained to a particular instrumental task, is restless, always pushing onwards, though not in a single or fixed or entirely knowable direction, and there is no one moment along that journey where we can say in general or in the abstract that the degree of understanding being sought has passed from the useful to the useless […] all endeavours after systematic understanding of some particular subject-matter are prone to generate further reflections on the limitations or the premises of that understanding which cannot themselves be uniquely corralled or subordinated to present uses. Moreover, present uses soon become outdated, but the forms of enquiry they provoked do not, or at least they get absorbed into continuing larger enquiries» (pp. 55-56). «Understanding does not work like a drop-down ‘dialog box': it involves reflection on the ways the newly encountered material does or doesn’t fit with categories and experiences which the understander already possesses. And reflection is more, or other, than just a ‘skill’» (p. 145). «… skills-talk represents a failure of nerve. It is an attempt to justify an activity not in its own appropriate terms, but in terms derived from another set of categories altogether, categories drawn from the instrumental world of commerce and industry» (p. 144). «One rough and ready distinction between university education and professional training is that education relativizes and constantly calls into question the information which training simply transmits» (p. 56).

Intellectual endeavour (2)
«The default condition of the scholar is one of intellectual dissatisfaction. No matter how exhilarating it may be to discover new evidence or come up with an illuminatingly apt characterization, one can never (and perhaps should never) entirely banish the sense that the current state of one’s work can only ever have the status of an interim report, always vulnerable to being challenged, corrected, or simply bypassed. The mind searches for pattern, for a kind or order, but this is a restless, endless process. […] Someone else can always start from somewhere else – and so, therefore, can we. There can only ever be interim reports». (p. 66)

De illustratie komt uit de website Think humanities Amsterdam.

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What are the humanities for? Hannah Arendt on “human”

HeadDe citaat hieronder komt uit Men in dark times, een essays- en artikelenbundel die Hannah Arendt publiceerde in 1968. Hoewel de aandacht van de Duitse filosofe was toentertijd gericht op veel ergere omstandigheden (in de recente geschiedenis van haar geboorteland en van de hele wereld) dan de huidige omwenteling bij de UvA, past haar bespiegeling over de betekenis van ‘humaan’ juist heel goed, en niet alleen letterlijk, over welke de rol van de humaniora is, en daarom bij de eerder deze week begonnen reeks citaten uit Stefan Collini’s What are universities for?.

«For the world is not humane just because it is made by human beings, and it does not become humane just because the human voice sounds in it, but only when it has become the object of discourse. However much we are affected by the things of the world, however deeply they may stir and stimulate us, they become human for us only when we can discuss them with our fellows. Whatever cannot become the object of discourse – the truly sublime, the truly horrible or the uncanny – may find a human voice through which to sound into the world, but it is not exactly human. We humanize what is going on in the world and in ourselves only by speaking of it, and in the course of speaking of it we learn to be human» (pp. 24-25).

Het plaatje met Spinoza komt uit de website Think humanities Amsterdam.

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