Brussels, 02.09.2022

This summer has been intense in terms of new study experiences.

A first challenging experience was the attendance to the Summer School “Digital Humanities: Genetic editing, from manuscripts to born-digital writing processes”. This study experience took place between the week from the 27th of June to the 1st of July at the University of Antwerp. Over this week I had the chance to familiarise with the digital editorial processes and to gain an exhaustive theoretical knowledge as much as hands-on practice of XML and TEI writing practices. Generally speaking, it was a fruitful study experience that gave me the possibility to comprehend more into detail how digital editions works; it also made me wonder about the possibility of creating a digital edition of my street poetry’s corpus, however for the moment, I will keep this option in mind for future project’s developments.

A second, challenging as much as inspiring experience was the participation at the European Summer University in Digital Humanities “Culture & Technology” at the University of Leipzig. The Summer School in Leipzig took place over the first two weeks of August and it offered ten different workshops, six lectures, two teaser sections, three poster presentations and one poster presentation section. It also included a panel discussion as much as a diversified cultural programme dedicated to the city of Leipzig as much as to DH methodologies. Over these two weeks I attended the workshop “Distant Reading in R: from Text Analysis to Mapping” under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Simone Rebora and Prof. Dr. Giovanni Vitali. I found the concept of distant reading extremely interesting and pertinent for my research. Over the first week I had the chance to take my first steps in R gaining background theories and practicing exercises on the three most common methods used in distant reading applied to Text Analysis: sentiment analysis, top modelling and stylometry. Personally, I was particularly fascinated by the practice and theory of sentiment analysis and I am currently considering the pros and cons of applying such method to my research. The second week was dedicated to data visualisation methods as graphs, networks and mapping. This last week was extremely interesting and inspiring for the further developments of my project; we had the possibility to have hands-on practice on programs as Gephi, QGIS and of course R. I feel that this study experience was the natural continuation of the path started in Poitiers last May and I am looking forward to start practicing more and more these new methods. I also had the chance to present my project over the project presentation section, and I would like to thank again all the fellow students, colleagues and experts who gave me the possibility to illustrate my project and to receive feedbacks.

Lastly, I would like to stress one more time how rich it was this experience and how thankful I am for having the possibility to attend this last edition of the European Summer University in Digital Humanities: it is a rare opportunity to have such a welcoming, warming and high level study environment. Future steps for the month of September are to keep collecting poems through work field and crowdsourcing, organising poems collected and analysed in Brussels, and first and foremost to keep mapping!

Brussels, 8.06.2022

I am very excited to finally share this first post about my PhD research!  

The project “Street poetry and political engagement in contemporary Western Europe” is finally taking its first steps into the real world!  

Before going into detail about what has been the research in these last few months, I would like to thank Livia Ribichini for creating this amazing website. Indeed, the website is the starting point not only for the vulgarisation of my work but also, and most importantly, for collecting new poems, receiving research hints and poetic inspiration. Without this digital platform, a considerable part of the project could not be developed; I sincerely hope to reach more and more curious readers with the time. I would also like to thank all the people who have already started to participate in crowdsourcing; thank you so much for your contributions, I cannot stress enough how your participation can positively affect the course of this project. 

During this last period, the research has been focused on the city of Brussels. More than 70 poems have been collected in the Belgian capital. The analysis of this first portion of the corpus is already stunning for its variety: 

  • Six different languages have been detected: French, Dutch, English, Italian, Arabic and Portuguese. 
  • Different examples of diversified multilingualism: external multilingualism Dutch-French, English-French and one example of internal multilingualism with the blending of Italian and the roman dialect. 
  • Most of the poems have been collected in the neighbourhoods of Ixelles and Bruxelles Ville, followed by Saint-Gilles, Etterbeek, Scharbeek, Saint-Josse-Ten-Noode, Watermael and Molenbeek. I count on finding more street poems in other neighbourhoods for the future, nonetheless these geo-spatial data already offer a lot for the geo-critical analysis, especially concerning the tension between central and peripheral areas. 
  • All the expected street art related techniques have been used: small graffiti is the most used technique followed by sticker, spray stencil, poster and installation, the latter only detected on the VUB campus for the moment. At the present time, I couldn’t find any poetic murales. 
  • Four cases of intertextuality related to the influence of the French poetic tradition have been found: Boris Vian, Louis Aragon, Paul Eluard and Jacques Prevert. 
  • Many authors and collectives have participated in the spreading of street poetry in Brussels: Timoteo Sergoï and Petite Poissonne with one exhibition each (in Sprimont at the ‘Salon du Livre engagé’ and in the ‘Theater La Balsamine’ in Brussels), Accìon Poetica and the students at VUB on the university campus, La rue aux lettres, les 7 pechées du capitalisme, Er Pinto, La Dactylo and many other artists are to be identified! At the present moment, most of the compositions are still anonymous and they may stay so. 

You can find all this information about street poetry in Brussels on the map provided on this site. If you want more details or wish to share some news do not hesitate to get in contact through the email addresses in the contact section. 

The future steps of the research will consist in collecting poems, updating the map, and starting to go through the literary and geo-spatial analysis. In order to progress on the first analytical step, I have listed a thematic structure connected to two macro groups:  

  1. social injustice entailing consumerism, feminism, pandemic, oppression, freedom, and communication as themes 
  1. meta-artistic merging broader themes such as empathy, love, art, and existence. 

Of course, these two categories do not have to be seen as absolute, but they can share contaminations and eventually even overlap.  

For the geo-spatial analysis, a big step forward has been taken after attending the EnExDi Winter School at the University of Poitiers in France. Under the expert guidance of an excellent team of researchers and experts in Digital Humanities I have received an inspiring overview of the DH’s world. The application of these tools would represent an incredible support to my project not only for the geo-spatial study but also for all the other analytical sections of the research. For the moment, I have decided to focus my energies on the field of data visualization and in the process of mapping

Thanks to the amazing tutoring of Prof. Dr. Giovanni Vitali, I have started this adventure in the world of mapping, a critical concept as much as a technique to localise items and ideas. I am positive that I will continue to train myself in this field and I am sure that my research will benefit from this study approach. 

I would like to finish my post by thanking all the participants of the EnExDi Winter School for the inspirational vibes shared this past week. It was a pleasure to get to know all of you and I am looking forward to reading more about your projects! 

There is also some exciting news in the POETRY section! Do not hesitate to have a look!