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Student Spotlight: Piper Thomas & TXTDS Minor Capstone

This guest post is written by Linguistics, French, and TXTDS student Piper Thomas, who recently completed the Textual Studies and Digital Humanities (TXTDS) minor Capstone project. This story has also been posted to the French & Italian Studies website. Photos by Assistant Book Arts Librarian Kat Lewis.

About Me

I am majoring in Linguistics, and minoring in French Language, Literature, and Culture as well as Textual Studies and Digital Humanities. I have always been interested in how people choose to present and preserve information, and seeing evidence of people in the past simply being people never fails to make me smile. When presented with the opportunity to explore the vast collection of handmade records of individual experiences housed in the Special Collections, I knew I had to take it. I adore seeing how the technology of writing has developed throughout human history, and how people during every era used the existing technology in creative ways.

Piper Thomas working at computer in Special Collections

Capstone Project

For my capstone project in Textual Studies, I began with an annotated bibliography. It served to give me some background for who William Morris was and what he did – since that was to be the focus of my project. In addition, it was very helpful to me as an undergraduate student, because it was a chance to learn how to do research. It was very nice to go through the process of research while having a guiding hand there to provide feedback, and without the pressure of having to get it right on the first try.

After doing the annotated bibliography, we decided that it would be good for me to create an online exhibit about some of the things I had noticed. Unlike the annotated bibliography, the subject of the exhibit was largely left to my discretion so long as it was at least somewhat related to William Morris. I felt that it would be cool to compare some Morris books to books by modern book artists. After doing some further exploration, I decided to compare the usage of white space in three different books, one of which was by Morris.

It was honestly a wonderful experience. I was given freedom to follow whatever route piqued my interest, with a huge amount of resources available to me, and great support available when I ran into hurdles. I learned a lot about how to navigate the library and interact with delicate books, how to find resources for research, and how to create an online paper.

Online Exhibit: Whitespace in Illustrations and Book Arts

Piper Thomas working at computer in Special Collections

Are you a Textual Studies student and have a project you’d like to share? We would love to highlight your work! Email us at

Interested in the minor? See our page for more information.

Announcements Courses

Planned Courses for 2022/2023

The Textual Studies Program and partner departments project the following courses to be offered during the 2022/2023 academic year. Please note that these offerings are subject to change.

Autumn 2022

Digital Editing and Text Processing for Publication / Texts, Publics, and Publication — TXTDS 414 / FRENCH 420 / TXTDS 504 (VLPA, I&S, SLN: 22912; TXTDS core course)

Data Science and the Humanities — TXTDS 267 / ENGL 267 (VLPA, SLN: 23137; TXTDS minor elective)

Winter 2023

Texts, Data, and Computation — TXTDS 413 / ENGL 413 (VLPA, QSR; minor core course)

Text Technologies: Medieval Manuscript Cultures — TXTDS 401 / HONORS 211 / TXTDS 501 (VLPA, QSR; TXTDS core course)

Text Technologies: History of the Book in South Asia — TXTDS 501 / ASIAN 541 (TXTDS graduate certificate core course)

Art History and Criticism: Haiti and Print Culture in the Age of Revolution — ART H 400 (VLPA; TXTDS minor elective)

Love and Empire: Cultural History of the Ottoman Empire through Literature — NEAR E 371 (VLPA, I&S; TXTDS minor elective)

Spring 2023

Texts, Data, and Computation: Introduction to Cultural Analytics — TXTDS 413 / INFO 498 (VLPA, QSR; TXTDS core course)

Archives, Data, and Databases: 20th Century Book History and Digital Humanities — TXTDS 503 / ENGL 504 (TXTDS graduate certificate core course)

Announcements Courses Faculty & Staff Research

Recent Italian and Textual Studies Scholarship by Professor Beatrice Arduini

In Autumn 2021, Associate Professor of Italian Studies Beatrice Arduini published several new works in Italian and Textual Studies, including scholarship that connects with her work supported by the Simpson Center’s Digital Humanities Summer Fellowships earlier that year.

In collaboration with Jelena Todorović, Professor Arduini co-wrote “Biscioni’s Dante,” published in Textual Cultures, vol. 14, no. 1. This essay focuses on the 1723 edition of two of Dante Alighieri’s “minor texts,” the Vita Nova and the Convivio, both of which had troubled editorial histories, within the volume Prose di Dante Alighieri e di Messer Gio. Boccacci prepared for the Tartini press in Florence by Anton Maria Biscioni. In intervening in the texts of both works in unique ways, this edition sought to return to Dante’s original intentions when writing them. This essay argues that Anton Maria Biscioni’s work offers modern readers a unique glimpse into the workshop of an editor of this eighteenth-century edition of Dante’s texts, an editor who details all the facets of the editorial process, from the collation of manuscripts to the hard choices determined by that collation and by the current practices of the editorial trade. The authors argue that main achievements of this 1723 edition can be seen in its editor’s promotion of bibliographical studies.

Also with Jelena Todorović (Associate Professor of Italian, University of Wisconsin Madison), along with Isabella Magni (Postdoctoral Fellow at the HathiTrust Research Center, HTRC, and Indiana University Luddy School of Informatics), Arduini co-edited as well as contributed an article to the volume, Interpretation and Visual Poetics in Medieval and Early Modern Texts: Essays in Honor of H. Wayne Storey, published by Brill in October.

Arduini explained, “I wanted to edit (and contribute) to this festchrift to honor the work and the career of our advisor and mentor, H. Wayne Storey. This is a tradition that lives very much in the Italian academic world, and many of Wayne’s friends, colleagues and former students were delighted to participate. Therefore, the project is intended for an academic audience interested in medieval and early modern Italian and French studies, textual studies and material culture. We wanted to delineate new research directions and opportunities in our fields of medieval studies, textual studies and digital humanities, based on and inspired by Wayne’s work, hence the word ‘new’ in the title of the volume. Accordingly, many contributions in the volume offer new paths of scholarly exploration that stem from his research. In line with this aim, we divided the essays into two parts, ‘Materiality and Visual Poetics’ and ‘Hermeneutics and Literary Criticism,’ reflecting a range of source texts and approaches that have common roots in two distinct but inseparable strains of Wayne’s scholarly legacy, which are also central to our own research, material studies and hermeneutics.”

Arduini’s article in the volume, ” ‘Dolente me/ son morto ed ag[g]io vita!’ The sonnet corona of ‘disaventura’ by Monte Andrea da Firenze,” examines how Monte presents himself as an emblematic example of misfortune and a poet of bad luck, illustrating with bitterness and tragic realism the precarious economic situation that condemned him to a marginal role in society after his bankruptcy. It is an uncommon characterization of poverty for the Italian 13th century: it moves away from its view as shame and disgrace to hint to a larger social problem, but also refuses the Christian ideal of poverty, which dictates to devalue worldly (i.e., economic and political) success to glorify a more transcendent vision, as presented in the Franciscan tradition and in Dante. The article includes translation of six sonnets, and is part of a larger book project on representation of poverty and suffering, tentatively entitled Suffering Sonnets: The Physicality of Love and Poverty in Monte Andrea (Florence, second half of the 13th century). Arduini started working on a virtual database and digital companion to her book project in summer 2021 thanks to the generous support of one of the Simpson Center DH Summer Fellowships.

Professor Arduini will be examining these themes of poverty as well as incarceration and slavery in her upcoming Spring 2022 class, ITAL 354 A: Travels, Migrations, and Exile: Encounters with the Other in Textual and Digital Archives (offered jointly with C LIT 361 A). Taught in English, the five-credit course has no prerequisites and satisfies both the Diversity (DIV) and Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA) GE requirements.