Visualizing a network of Italian writers through ArcGIS

Who was Elio Pagliarani?

Elio Pagliarani was a renowned poet of the late Sixties in Italy. He was born on May 25, 1927 in Viserba, Italy.  He studied at the University of Padua in 1945 but moved to Milan soon after to pursue writing poetry.  Pagliarani was a part of “Gruppo 63,” an Italian avant-garde literary movement where monumental poetry was written.  After this time, Pagliarani spent much of his life in Rome.  Some of his most notable works include “La Ragazza Carla” and “La Ballata di Rudi.” He passed away on March 8, 2012 in Rome.

What is the Elio Pagliarani Library?

The Elio Pagliarani Library houses about 14,000 books, ranging from the 1950’s to 2012.  These books come from a variety of genres, including contemporary and modern Italian literature with regard to poetry and non-fiction, a collection of fiction books from Strega finalists, modern editions of important Italian and foreign authors, dramatic literature, and magazines.

Goals of the Library

The Library was created with the goal of sharing Italian poetic and literary culture with the world, a goal inspired by the poetic works of Elio Pagliarani and Gruppo 63.  The Library promotes these values by hosting conferences, events, and an annual ceremony to award the “Premio Nazionale Elio Pagliarani” to a deserving poet who upholds these same values.  The library has a close knit relationship with the magazine Rossocorpolingua.

Goals and Methodology of Our Project: 

In the realm of digital humanities, maps can be an extremely useful tool for visualizing connections across time and space in a new and engaging way.  Interactive layers with multiple variables from data sets on the same map create a powerful way to focus on the big picture and the small details.

For this project, we have made an interactive, multi-layered map depicting a network of Italian literary intellectuals. To create this network, we are using dedications that various authors wrote to Italian poet, Elio Pagliarani, which we digitally scanned at the Elio Pagliarani Library in Rome.  There are two layers on the map; on the first, each point corresponds to the location in which a dedication was written, and on the second, each point corresponds to the location in which the author of the book lived. By clicking on any given point, a viewer can find more information about the book, the author, when the dedication was written, and even the author’s relationship to Elio Pagliarani. In creating this map of Italian intellectual connections, we hope to highlight the exchanges and contributions of these authors, as well as draw attention to “hotspots” of intellectual activity in Italy. This is a way of organizing and displaying a captivating but elusive data set– namely, digital images of dedications and authors’ connections to each other.