Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 82.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
I am asking again for help.
Last night I got the ministerial decree saying that Italian
Studies at Duisburg University will be closed definitively.
This is not only a drama for the presence of Italian Lan-
guage, Literature and Culture in accademic education in
general, for the more than 150 students already enroled
and the school leavers who had wanted to take up these
studies (Italian Studies this semester is the fastest growing
department inside Romance Studies with up to 16% of incre-
ment in student enrollment), but also for humanities compu-
In fact, it is precisely the Italian department which since the
beginnings of the 90s has tried to introduce the new media
in its studies (corpus linguistics, textual analysis, Markup,
the study of authentic materials on the Internet ecc.).
Furthermore, the Italian department last year has organised the
very successful international congress SILFI2000, where un-
der the motto "Tradition & Innovation. Italian linguistics and
philology at the start of a new Millennium" for the first time
the wealth of knowledge gained by using traditional resour-
ces and methodolgy was brought together with projects which
try to exploit the possibilities offered by the electronic media
for research and teaching. It has, thus, successfully combined
approaches up to then separated from each other and mostly
present in congresses devoted either exclusively to the traditio-
nal perspective or exclusively to media and tecnology
The Italian department is, furthermore, organising CLiP2001 to
take place from the 06-09.12.2001 at Duisburg University where
under the motto "Philologies and Informationtechnologies. Theo-
ries, modells, methods of a new discipline" eminent European and
US-scholars will come together, discuss the state of the art and
work towards a European multilingual BA/MA-Programme PHIL*IT.
Some information can already be found at
www.uni-duisburg.de/FB3/CLiP2001. Invitations will go out as soon
as possible and there will be more information, soon.
We are only too aware that traditional Italian Studies are having a
hard time when money and student numbers are the only criteria
for judging the value of a subject and the work which has been done
in the past, we cannot accept, however, that the innovative path we
have taken in order to qualify our students for a professional life in
a multilingual and multicultural Information society are nullified and
we are not given the chance to create new programms which allow
us and our students to teach and study languages, literature and cul-
ture from a perspective which gives them the possibility to gain exac-
tly these qualifications which in Germany and in Europe are so very
much requested. In fact, technologically qualified content workers
and knowledge managers which are proficient in more than one lan-
guage and culture are more than rare.
I hope I can bank on your help again as about 2 years ago when lots
and lots of messages from all over the world reached our Rector. Even
if he hadn't then the time to read them all and reply to them as he had
wanted, the idea he had of the Italian department has changed very much,
in the meantime.
Now, however, the situation is not any longer in his hands. It is the mi-
nistry who decreets the shut downs. Therefore, I ask you to send a mail
of protest to
Ministerin fuer Schule, Wissenschaft und Forschung des Landes Nord-
rhein-Westfalen, Frau Behler email@example.com
Please, make clear to her that Italian Studies at Duisburg and the work it is
doing is internationally known, that some of its members belong to the most
important organisations of Humanities Computing/with Computing (ACH,
ALLC, ACO*HUM) and ask her to give us a chance to develop the new pro-
gramme PHIL*IT, which absolutely needs Italian language, literature and cul-
ture to be part of it if it wants to be a real European programme. What is
woth if its great languages and cultures are not respected.
I would be happy if you sent me a copy of your mail. Please do not expect me
to respond, however, I just won't be able to respond.
Prof'in Dr. Elisabeth Burr
FB10/Romanistik / Universitaet Bremen
firstname.lastname@example.org / Elisabeth.Burr@uni-duisburg.de
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