SKENÈ Digital Archives



Shakespeares Narrative Sources: Italian novellas and their European dissemination.

Although Shakespeare’s sources have long been identified and extensively studied, their early modern editions have not been thoroughly examined yet, nor has their European dissemination, translation, and adaptation been entirely explored. Study of their textual and paratextual variants, additions, and omissions is still needed. Research in this filed would greatly profit from free online access. While we tend to take for granted the textual stability of sources, compared to the radical instability of Shakespeare’s plays, a closer exploration of the actual editions that may have been available at the time shows relevant textual differences bearing upon their possible reception. What did Shakespeare and his contemporaries actually read? To what extent do cultural national differences emerge from the comparison of these texts? This digital project aims at providing a flexible and freely accessible research tool allowing for the easy comparison of Shakespeare’s Italian sources and their European mediation.

Britton and Walter (2018) have recently underlined that “databases and digital tools are making more texts available; technology is allowing us to access many more and potentially not-yet-recognized sources to find new connections among texts and to think anew about our methodologies and practices”. However, while new digital output has been provided, work on simultaneously searchable texts is lagging behind. Furthermore, a convincing theoretical approach to textual comparison based on advanced segmentation and intermodal criteria has not yet been produced. Much effort has been put into establishing the name of Shakespeare as a supranational patrimony, providing online archives focused on editions of his works and theatrical performances, including additional scholarly material. Most of these archives are open access and non-profit. But they are entirely devoted to Shakespeare’s works, not to their sources. What is needed for source studies are new relational databases allowing for multilingual and multimodal research. This will favour a broader and more accurate understanding of the idea of ‘source’ with regard to Shakespeare, as well as of the intertextual, interdiscursive, performative and cultural processes involving Italy and the classical heritage in the early modern period.


SENS wants:

  • to achieve a better understanding of the Italian narrative sources of Shakespeare’s works and make them easily and freely accessible to researchers worldwide;
  • to provide two user-friendly open-access research instruments for school and university students as well as for Shakespeare and theatre and drama scholars globally;
  • to offer textual and visual material to favour a broad interpretation of intertextual transmission;
  • to develop and test a new theoretical approach to textual comparison, including textual segmentation and intermodal analysis;
  • to build a digital tool that may be implemented over time.

See S. Bigliazzi, “Romeo before Romeo: Notes on Shakespeare Source Study”, Memoria di Shakespeare 5 (2018), 13-39.

The Team

Prof. Silvia Bigliazzi, Verona (leader)

Dr Francesco Dall’Olio, Verona

Prof. Maria Serena Marchesi, Messina

Prof. Eric Nicholson, New York University, Florence

Dr Lucia Nigri, Salford, Manchester (UK)

Prof. Susan Payne, Florence

Dr Emanuel Stelzer, Verona

Dr Savina Stevanato, Venezia Ca’ Foscari

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