Massimo Lollini

Romance Languages | 541-346-0957

Courses: RL 407/507 Re-reading Petrarch in the Digital Age and Digital Cultures

In my courses you will:

  • Develop a significant project that will challenge you and make you proud.
  • Understand what it means to be at a research university with the chance to gain new knowledge.

I was invited into the Teaching Academy because:

  • I am a Herman Award Recipient.

In what ways are you working to make your teaching inclusive?

In my teaching I promote the idea of the class as a collective intelligence in which learning is the result of everyone's activities and contributions. I implement this idea by alternating individual tasks and group activities that are then shared and re-elaborated by the class as a whole.

What do you do in terms of professional engagement with the teaching and learning culture on campus or nationally?

From the early stages of my career I have deepened my knowledge of teaching with technology. I do not consider technology as something separate from the activities of writing, reading, teaching and learning: in each of them is embodied a technological level that the teacher and the student become aware of together.

In my classes students engage in new ways of reading, writing, translating and interpreting literary texts in a hypertext and digital environment. At the same time, they appreciate the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of knowledge in Digital Humanities. I enrich my lessons with contributions from colleagues working on our campus and, taking advantage of the latest developments in digital technology, I invite colleagues who have a national and international reputation to offer video conferences to my classes to present fresh and updated contributions and perspectives on the various subjects we study.

In what ways was your teaching in this course research-led—informed by research on how students learn and inflected by UO's research mission?

In my seminar on Re-reading Petrarch in the Digital Era and my more general Digital Cultures course, I address the question of how to read literary masterpieces in the digital world. In most Western societies the single textbook and traditional reading process are not at the center of the learning experience anymore thanks to the resources available on the Internet. In this way, my courses are research-led: I do not rely on the existence of a textbook to buy and study but I analyze the different instantiations of the text in different formats, from manuscript to printed and digital culture, and I invite students to create new textual configurations based on their research. My students challenge well-established horizons of expectations and a solidified universe of meaning and interpretation.

Deeply integrated with the Oregon Petrarch Open Book Project (OPOB), the hypertext I have been developing since 2003, these courses are oriented towards the encoding of Petrarca’s masterpiece based on a network of different themes. The various occurrences and data obtained from the encoding and close reading are collected into an online database. The results of this qualitative data collection are also compared with a quantitative computer-based research of selected keywords extracted from the various themes.

The study of the visual interpretation of Petrarch’s poems complements the close and distant reading and helps students to develop original re-writings of the poems and a pointed and creative interpretation of Petrarca’s masterpiece in different media. During the courses the students use both manuscripts and printed books and learn the persisting value of these old media in the new context of digital remediation and hypermediation. Without manuscripts and books the digital hypertext would not exist.

Who or what led you to this discipline?

Since I was a teenager, I have been attracted by literature and the great classics of the past when I sought meaning in my life and in my relationships with others and with the natural landscape. Starting from this original youthful impulse, I have developed my career as a teacher, researcher and writer. My youthful questions and the search for meaning in my life have never abandoned me and have constituted the deepest nourishment of my long years of work. Even today I continue on this path and I try to learn by reformulating those questions in the new context in which I live.

Indeed, the emergence of a reality organized around the Internet is provoking a profound crisis of identity in which the older principles of self-orientation and communitarian identification lose their effectiveness. What concepts, what methods do we need to understand the “knowledge space” in which we live an increasing part of our life? How can we orient our individual and professional identity within it? These are some of the questions that nurture my life and I keep in mind for myself and my students.