Serena Pezzini, Paolo Gervasi

Web of Meanings. Perspectives on Humanities and the Semantic Web

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Digital Humanities; Semantic Web; Literary Criticism; Visual Studies; Orlando Furioso.

The great shift from the web of documents to the web of data challenges humanities researchers towards a conception of digital tools as having a critical and interpretative value, grounded in the great range of possibilities enabled by the semantic web. The semantic web, in fact, is not just about representing meanings, it is about creating them and linking them to shared definitions; additionally, these meanings are connected to each other in a network that continuously produces knowledge. Based on the work we are developing at the CTL Lab of the Scuola Normale Superiore, within the ERC project Looking at Words Through Images, in this intervention we aim at discussing how research tools embodying this knowledge architecture can affect theoretical and methodological approaches to Humanities. Indeed, several crucial issues of the critical inquiry on literature and the arts can be deeply reshaped by the application of semantic tools: the semantic annotation of textual and visual elements could enhance the analysis of stylistic phenomena, and a wide-ranging map of different texts and images could reveal unexpected relationships between heterogeneous corpora. Moreover, in a broader perspective that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries, the attribution of stable meanings to single pieces of information, and the discovering of the recurrence of the same meanings in apparently unconnected objects (literary texts, essays, images, music, belonging to different periods and places) can allow the construction of networks that reproduce the spreading, interconnection and distribution in Time and Space of concepts and shapes, thus representing the structure itself of cultural systems.

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