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Analysing the Meta-Archive Arianna—‘Shakespeariana’: Research and Teaching Opportunities with the Iconographical Database

Department of Literature and Philosophy, University of Trento, 38122 Trento, Italy
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Humanities 2019, 8(2), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8020110
Received: 15 February 2019 / Revised: 8 April 2019 / Accepted: 23 May 2019 / Published: 3 June 2019
The application of digital technologies to Shakespeare has advanced considerably over the last decade. The spread of online archives offers new opportunities for researchers and teachers, facilitating the collection of materials. Since 2011, we have seized upon the opportunity afforded by digital archives with a project, Arianna, whose main goal is the creation of the meta-archive Shakespeariana, a database that includes iconographical items inspired by Shakespearean plays from the 16th century to the present day. As this article demonstrates, Arianna allows the user to make simple or combined searches in different fields, containing more than 13,000 iconographical items. Managing, sustaining, and refining the project brings new challenges. It poses the need to refine the strategies and methods of data acquisition, to conceive new tools of investigation, and to introduce some possible interactions with the end user. To this extent, two important problems are raised. The first concerns the function of Shakespeariana as a research and teaching tool. Since its content is constantly updated by researchers and collaborators, the digital archive is actually a collective and open-access work, but the filling of all the fields requires relevant levels of skills, critical perspectives, and knowledge about the single topics. Therefore, it is necessary to continually reflect on the proper, specific training to fill its content, to make researchers provide new information, and to mold them according to the existing standard. The second problem is the application of Shakespeariana to research. We argue that iconography provides some interpretative suggestions or helps to reveal the meaning and the dynamics of many otherwise obscure scenes. The relationship between text (and its adaptations) and figurative imagery has an osmotic character, with reciprocal influences and striking interactions. This article is arranged in two sections. The first explores the methodological questions and didactic purposes of Shakespeariana. The second offers an example of research application of the digital archive through the study of Salvador Dalí’s illustrated edition of Much Ado About Shakespeare (1968, 1971). View Full-Text
Keywords: Digital Humanities; Illustrated editions; meta-archives; Shakespearean iconography; reception of Shakespeare; Salvador Dalí Digital Humanities; Illustrated editions; meta-archives; Shakespearean iconography; reception of Shakespeare; Salvador Dalí
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Pietrini, S.; Piergiacomi, E. Analysing the Meta-Archive Arianna—‘Shakespeariana’: Research and Teaching Opportunities with the Iconographical Database. Humanities 2019, 8, 110.

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