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Bilingualism in Florentine and Tuscan Works (ca. 1260 - ca. 1416)

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - BIFLOW (Bilingualism in Florentine and Tuscan Works (ca. 1260 - ca. 1416))

Reporting period: 2020-04-01 to 2021-06-30

The BIFLOW Project aimed ambitiously at changing the perception of medieval Italian culture and interpretation of the break between medieval Culture and Humanism through the first systematic investigation of the various literary documents that circulated simultaneously in more than one language in Tuscany, and especially Florence, between the mid-13th Century and the beginning of 15th Century. In general, the results of the project, the collective working method developed by the team, the scientific methodology used to analyze the phenomenon of translation in a precise context, have been recognized by the scientific community as relevant and capable of influencing the vision of medieval culture in different domains: literature in Latin and in European vernaculars, the study of the manuscript tradition, the history of culture in the urban contexts of the late Middle Ages, the relationship between power and writing and between translation and literacy.
Studying literacy in Italy and Tuscany in an age of bilingualism through a comparison of multilingual readers and readers who only had access to vernacular texts, the BIFLOW project has defined a new map of Medieval Italian Culture adopting the tools of Social History. For the first time, Medieval Tuscan Translation is considered under this point of view. The research of BIFLOW team has demonstrated that the explanation for the oceanic diffusion of volgarizzamenti in medieval Tuscany is socio-cultural by its very nature. All these results allows to transcend the disciplinary barriers in order to understand and study this multilingual culture, taking as a starting point the competences and knowledge of the learned and different groups or types of readers.
A large discussion among the specialists of Digital Humanities including the BIFLOW team has allowed to instigate discussion about how to digitally represent Bilingualism and Medieval Translation. The discussion has been solidly enrooted in new digital practices linked to the principal outcome of the project (that is to say the BIFLOW Catalogue), which is structured in an innovative way thanks to the elaboration of an ontology linked to the technology of Semantic Web. The digital architecture of this infrastructure consists of a web platform containing a digital archive of bibliographical and content information from the manuscript tradition (the inventory) and from the texts organized in Dossiers.
We can analyze the work performed during the project in a thematic way, in order to make explicit the impact on the scientific community.

Theme A: Social history of medieval translation and its digital representation.

With the BIFLOW catalogue the scholarly community finally has at its disposal an open access research tool that brings together in the same infrastructure:
a. all texts translated in Medieval Tuscany before Humanism;
b. all the manuscripts of the various texts, in the different language versions;
c. a graphic representation of the translation process;
d. a complete bibliography.

The tool is realized with the structuring of an ontology that will allow it to be long-lasting, sustainable, and interoperable with other catalographic tools.
The data made available are entirely the fruit of research carried out or instigated by the team. The innovations that make this tool already a foundation for future research are at least the following:
1. complete information on Latin and vernacular texts, which is combined for the first time;
2. information is provided according to degrees of depth, addressing both those seeking basic information and those wishing to pursue specialist research.
Alongside the catalogue, the volume Toscana Bilingue (1260 ca.-1430 ca.). Per una storia sociale del tradurre medievale provides a complete and totally new interpretative framework. Based on the research that is photographed in the catalogue, the book is a critical companion to the phenomenon of translation, and answers the questions of social history: why do we translate? How? Who translates? For what purpose? It has been recognized by scholars as overcoming the linguistic approach to the phenomenon of translation in the Middle Ages.

Theme B: Editions and case studies: The project has been pursued following a twofold strategy: to study the phenomenon of translation in a general way, providing an overall interpretation of the phenomenon, and in parallel to provide a detailed study of a series of case study dossiers that are significant. Two books are particularly representative of this 'in-depth approach': the volume Le lettere di Dante, and the monumental edition of the Meditationes Vitae Christi. This is a central case of translation in our project, because the edition made it possible to solve problems that had never been solved by scholars (what is the original version? How is the author identified?), for a text that was a European best-seller.

There were several unexpected but important achievements. One of these is summarised in the book: Ad consolationem legentium. This volume revolutionised our knowledge of Marco Polo and the Devisement du Monde, one of the most important travel books in the history of mankind, starting from the in-depth study of the Dominican Order's vision and practice of the translation.
Through the collection of texts and manuscripts for the inventory, editing a corpus of bilingual texts and studying a selected series of textual dossiers, the BIFLOW project has developed a comprehensive and interdisciplinary methodology that is combining the factual precision of classical erudition both with innovative methods recently developed in codicological studies and the new techniques of digital humanities.

In order to provide a complete inventory of bilingual texts of Medieval Tuscany, the team has devoted its efforts to a full contextualization of each handwork, highlighting in particular the choice of documents it contents, the possible presence of marginal notes and the identification of copyists, commissioners and early owners. A complete list of manuscripts in all the linguistic versions (included the Latin version) has been furnished, together with a summary of the relation between these different versions: https://catalogobiflow.vedph.it.

Working on a quite innovative and interdisciplinary field, the BIFLOW project has instigated and reinforced successfully the discussion among the specialists about the issues of Medieval Bilingualism from a socio-cultural point of view; in addition, a concrete and important training activity has been foreseen and realized, to instigate research and create a new domain of specialization in a group of scholars and students. Consequently, along the duration of the project, the PI has run a research seminar at the Host Institution and another seminar in the Additional Beneficiary (EHESS) together with Sylvain Piron. In addition, the Final International Conference and the collaboration with the Medieval Translator Group has allowed to present the results in the most important framework of study and discussion dealing with the Medieval Translation.
Fourth BIFLOW Seminar - Venice, year 2019
BIFLOW Catalogue Presentation - Venice 29 Jube 2021
Third BIFLOW Seminar - Venice, year 2017-2018
Fourth BIFLOW Seminar - Venice, year 2019
Second BIFLOW Workshop - Venice, 15-17 June 2017
Toscana Bilingue presentation - 15 June 2021
Fifth BIFLOW Seminar - Venice, year 2019-2020
First BIFLOW Seminar - Venice, year 2016
Second BIFLOW Seminar - Venice, year 2017
Fourth BIFLOW Seminar - Venice, year 2019
Fifth BIFLOW Seminar - 19 December 2019
First BIFLOW Workshop - Venice, 19-21 October 2016
International Conference - Venice 8-10 November 2018
Fourth BIFLOW Workshop - Bologna 22-25 June 2021