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BIFLOW Report Summary

Project ID: 637533
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BIFLOW (Bilingualism in Florentine and Tuscan Works (ca. 1260 - ca. 1416))

Reporting period: 2015-10-01 to 2017-03-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The scientific community has often raised the issue of the linguistic expression of cultural systems and recent research has demonstrated that knowledge is closely bound to the language in which it is expressed.
It has been demonstrated that multilingual competencies entail important cognitive benefits and linguists have shown that bilingualism strongly reinforces the cognitive and learning abilities, literacy and the aptitude for cultural exchange.
Proposing a multilingual approach to medieval culture, the BIFLOW project seeks to make a contribution to a very active field of research in Europe.

Bilingualism, defined as the simultaneous presence of more than one language in a specified setting, has made a substantial contribution to an extensive body of literature on linguistic education and political planning for minorities. In addition, on the basis of this mixed socio-political approach, bilingualism plays an instrumental role in the debate on the construction of European identity in terms of both its cultural expressions and institutional frameworks.

The project BIFLOW aims 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. During that period, Florence was both a prominent literary centre in the vernacular, and home to a renewal of classical Latin eloquence. While both fields are well studied, their interaction remains largely unexplored. This research is at the convergence of several disciplines (literature, philology, linguistics and medieval history) and has a strong pioneering character.
The project shall provide researchers with an innovative inventory that will bring into full light a large group of texts and manuscript codices containing literary documents and collections that have so far been ignored. It shall produce critical editions of a number of bilingual texts, chosen in order to illuminate the most specific cases of bilingual phenomena. A collective volume will take the form of a Cartography of bilingual culture in Fourteenth-Century’s Tuscany. The results of this interdisciplinary research, that will tie closely together many different approaches (philology, linguistics, literature and history) should have an important impact on the instruments and methodology of cultural and intellectual history of medieval Italy. The enquiry into the comparative reception of bilingual documents offers a very promising way to study literacy in Italy in an age of bilingualism through a comparison of multilingual readers and readers who only had access to vernacular texts. Finally, a ground-breaking study of the multilingual diffusion of knowledge in medieval Italy will contribute to a more general reflection on the limits of monolingual standardization.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

"During the first reporting period (18 months), the team has worked, mainly, on the first two main stages of the project:
1. Completion of the list of texts with bilingual circulation and update of the list of extant manuscripts for all the texts. Through a number of research travels to the most important Libraries of Paris, Rome, Florence, Milan and Turin, starting from a corpus of about 30 texts and 300 manuscripts, the team has enriched the list of texts and manuscripts, that actually amounts to about 50 and 1800 respectively. These texts refer, in particular, to Dossiers A (Bilingualism from Latin to Italian, which is subdivided in two sections, religious and non religious literature and Bilingualism from French to Tuscan) and C (Bilingualism from Italian to Latin) of the corpus. The second part of the year 2017 will be devoted to the completion and update of the other Dossiers.The annual BIFLOW seminars cycles (one in Paris at EHESS and one in Venice at Ca’ Foscari), together with the collective workshop (Venice, October 2016), have represented the platform for the discussion between the PI and some external experts to evaluate the representativeness of the “growing” corpus and the interdisciplinarity approach of the research, through the contribution of historians, palaeographers and specialists in Italian and Latin Studies.
2. Study of the first core case study, the Epistles of Dante. The editing of the Epistles will be completed in 2018 and it will include not only the team’s contribution, but also the outcomes of two collective workshops: one held during the first reporting period (October 2016) with the scientific contribution of the external experts from many National and International Research Institutions, the second scheduled in the second reporting period (June 2017).
With regards to the database of texts and manuscripts, one of the main deliverables of BIFLOW, a series of meetings with experts (during some research travels and during the first collective workshop) have led to the definition of the metadata sheet, which is currently used by the research team to describe the manuscripts’ corpus.
Under the supervision of the PI, one Ph.D. student and one collaborator (subcontract) are working to the critical edition of two relevant texts (Bartolomeo di San Concordio’s ""Gli Ammaestramenti degli antichi"" by the PhD student 1 and Francesco da Barberino's ""Documenti d'Amore"" by the The second case represents a pilot study on the application of digital technologies to the comparative and interdisciplinary study of multilingual medieval texts. This issue is discussed in Annex 1 as advantageous development of the project.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

"The research carried out at the Libraries, where medieval multilingual manuscripts are preserved (almost 10 in France and Italy), led to the enlargement of the corpus up to 50 texts and 1800 manuscripts and this is a symptom that the phenomenon of medieval multilingualism was more extended than expected.
This circumstance comes from a secondary literature focused on the Vernacular translation of classics texts, that is additional with respect to the corpus of texts studied by the BIFLOW project. This means that the database will be a fundamental tool to study medieval bilingualism of the texts belonging to the corpus, through the innovative approach of social history. The PI is taking into consideration to convert the ""Cartography of Medieval Bilingualism” into one book of ""Social history of medieval translation in Tuscany"", with particular regard to the social role of the translator.
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