The project of a digital research platform for Giacomo Leopardi’s Zibaldone explores its hypertextual dimensions of cross-references between related passages and of their allocation to thematic indexes, which Leopardi wrote with the intention to fashion his fragmentary notes into scholarly and memoir works. The project’s premise is that a significant hurdle to this authorial intent was the inadequacy of the paper medium to convey the materially and semantically interlaced textuality of the Zibaldone. The primary objective of the project is to actualize and further develop the author’s conceptualization of the text’s semantic organization by building a research platform, which would enable users to navigate more swiftly its hypertextual paths and to mine its structural complexity more comprehensively than is possible with a print edition or with a digital transcription. A secondary objective is to provide an editorial apparatus that would allow to study the Zibaldone strategically and to reconstruct its contextual network of external bibliographic references.

The XML encoding of the text and its indexes in TEI P5 gives the possibility to access the Zibaldone modularly, in custom-selected layers of its encoded elements, to bring together and explore their interrelations through statistical charts, histograms, and network graph visualizations. The settings devised for navigating the research platform provide the option to view versions of the text that display or hide all or individual cases of authorial and editorial markup, thus giving users the choice to engage with a variety of modes of textual display, as delimited by their research objectives. In its future development, the research platform aspires to create a collaborative space, where users could add and share their own annotations to the text and contribute to the site’s editorial apparatus, such as a database of its critical bibliography and expanding the author’s analytical index.

The Zibaldone project makes use of a suite of XML technologies. The eXist XML server allows for Xquery processing and XSLT transformations of the files and offers Lucene full-text searching and a built-in web server. While the eXist XML database provides a full application framework, Drupal was used for the website interface. With the addition of a few plug-in modules, the versatile Drupal content management system simplifies the addition of existing and future features, such as authentication, authorization, commenting, tagging, caching, and theming to the website. Custom PHP programming in Drupal pulls content from the eXist database and does any necessary processing on that content before displaying that content to the user.

The Zibaldone project development has received support from Princeton University, the Trier Center for Digital Humanities, the University of Macerata, and volunteer work.


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Remediating Giacomo Leopardi’s Zibaldone: Hypertextual Semantic Networks in the Scholarly Archive. Proceedings of AIUCD ‘14, September 18-19 2014, Bologna, Italy, ACM (08/2015). Ed. Francesca Tomasi et al.

"The Zibaldone Hypertext Research Platform". In Authoring Software (07/2014), Ed. Judy Malloy

"Fragmentary Narrative and the Formation of Pre-Digital Scholarly Hypertextuality: G. Leopardi’s Zibaldone and its hypertext rendition". In Proceedings of Hypertext 2013, ACM (05/2013)

“Lo Zibaldone di pensieri di Leopardi: progetto di una piattaforma di ricerca ipertestuale”. (“Leopardi’s Zibaldone of thoughts: a project for a hypertext research platform”) in Lo «Zibaldone» di Leopardi come ipertesto, Atti del Convegno internazionale (Barcellona, 26-27 ottobre 2012). Ed. María de las Nieves Muñiz Muñiz, Florence, Leo Olschki, 2013, pp.333-342.