15.350 For Giuseppe

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: Fri Nov 02 2001 - 01:54:41 EST

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 350.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Fri, 02 Nov 2001 06:36:07 +0000
             From: "Domenico Fiormonte" <mc9809@mclink.it>
             Subject: For Giuseppe

    Dear all,

    I am sending a memory of Giuseppe Gigliozzi written by one of his
    friend and colleague. Although written by one person, I think this
    remarkable text expresses the feelings and represents the views of
    everyone who knew Giuseppe and his story both as a scholar and a
    man. The letter is dedicated to all the 'italianisti' who had the fortune
    to meet, at least once, Giuseppe's unforgettable smile.

    Domenico Fiormonte

    Long live the ghost in our machines

    Giuseppe Gigliozzi died after a short illness on Sunday,
    28th October. One month ago, he was appointed associate professor of Italian
    Literature at Rome "La Sapienza" University.

    Giuseppe was a pathologically modest man whose
    reputation rests on his considerable pioneering achievements. In a
    system where tradition is power, he took on vested interests,
    persuaded the deciders, created a school based on true
    Socratic principles, leading by example alone, without flaunting any of the
    trappings of authority. His pupils, or rather spiritual colleagues,
    received not just
    theoretical and practical instruction in a new and exciting intellectual
    domain, they also absorbed a permanent lesson about devotion,
    human devotion. Long after local conflicts about TEI Lite and such
    like have subsided, victims of a quickening pace of change both in
    techniques and (more importantly) aims, the primary teaching of
    Giuseppe will be still operative
    offering us a model of why we should engage in the discipline, and
    what its fundamental stance is towards intellectual enquiry.

    Giuseppes early career was as a standard literary critic and
    historian, specialising in twentieth century Italian literature (Alvaro,
    Jovine. Malaparte, Silone, Pirandello). I say standard only in that
    there is, in that field, a tradition and a recognised cursus honorum.
    But Giuseppe wasnt really standard at all. Even then, there was a
    quizzical tone (as far from conventional professorese as could
    be imagined) and desire to challenge commonplaces, which set
    him apart form his contemporaries. This independence, innate, and
    possibly (as I suspect) wryly cultivated, did wonders in securing a
    consistent lack of support for the advancement of his career as a
    conventional critic.

    Luckily, he had other ideas, and they were powerful ones. Like the
    pioneers Padre Busa and Tito Orlandi, Giuseppe became
    precociously aware, even when, as in the early days the technical
    material itself was very crude, that informatics solutions were an
    extremely promising avenue not just for linguistics but for the
    much more demanding applications of literary and philological
    study. With little in the way of institutional or financial support, but
    with a gift for inspiring intellectually committed students, and
    wheedling assistance from outside bodies not normally associated
    with university activity, he set up pilot computing
    projects which have become models imitated elsewhere. Anybody
    who has entered his office (the mythical number 10 in the Faculty of
    Letters) will have seen, improbably compressed into all the
    available space, a history of hardware from the beginnings of
    desktop technology to the present day. But the real museum is
    virtual. It is what he, and particularly the young teams he had a gift
    for inspiring, were able to do intellectually with the meagre
    equipment at their disposal. It was this sense of teamwork that put
    the Rome Faculty of Letters Computing Centre (CISADU), at the forefront of
    philologically sound, as opposed to technomegalomanic
    developments. The hallmark was always an economy of
    means to service academically ambitious enquiry.

    One of the most characteristic aspects of Giuseppes work has
    been the perception (earlier than most) that the partners in digital
    humanities are not necessarily all housed in universities. His own
    outreach was considerable, in journalism (newspapers, radio and
    TV), in the exciting environment of software houses, in library
    science and lexicography, and even in surprisingly responsive
    government departments. As a result of this outreach, his pupils,
    unusually for a mandarinesque education system like Italys, had a
    firm grasp of commercial and public realities, and moved
    seamlessly between worlds which apparently had little
    in common. Perhaps the greatest contribution, however, has been
    his influence in getting the subject (and I hesitate to use the
    singular) legally recognised as a university discipline.

    Characteristically, this apparently prosaic, administrative
    target became, in Giuseppes hands, an exciting and overarching
    debate about the intellectual construction, or rather de-construction
    and re-construction of university education in general, combining
    the historical rigour of the past with the need to equip students as
    for the real world outside.

    Those who want a detailed, English language impression of
    Giuseppes tireless activity, his wide interests, his outreach and
    curiosity, would do well to consult his entry in CISADU biographies
    http://rmcisadu.let.uniroma1.it/crilet/personal/gigliozzi/gigliozzi.htm .
       For those of you who have the good fortune to read Italian,
    Giuseppes unique style of communication, unaffected, humorous
    but always to the point, presenting new angles as a matter of
    principle, can be savoured in an interview about digital
    archives transcribed for

    His is a ghost which inhabits my machine, and needs no upgrade.

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