Jeffrey Schnapp on the Phenomenon of Crowds

About Guest:

Professor Jeffrey Schnapp is the Rosina Pierotti chair and professor of French and Italian and comparative literature. His research falls into two main areas: Italian literature in the age of Dante and the emergence and institutional articulation of Fascist culture in Italy. His other interests are the troubadour lyric; Franco-Italian cultural relations from 1850 to 1950; eighteenth- and nineteenth-century travel and transportation literature; and Georges Sorel and French anarcho-syndicalism.
Professor Schnapp received his B.A. from Vassar College and his Ph.D in Comparative Literature from Stanford. He is the author of several books, including The Transfiguration of History at the Center of Dante's Paradise (1986) and Staging Fascism: 18BL and the Theater of Masses for Masses (1996). He is editor of Bernardino Daniello's Commento sopra la Commedia di Dante, as well as The Poetry of Allusion and A Primer of Italian Fascism. His current projects include a cultural history of speed and accident from eighteenth century to the present and a study of mass panoramic photography in Soviet Russia and Fascist Italy. He has been awarded a Guggenheim fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, the second literary historian ever to be granted this honor.
Professor Schnapp is the Director of The Stanford Humanities Laboratory. The SHL offers the opportunity for scholars in the humanities to undertake the sort of mid- to large-scale collaborative research projects that have traditionally been the domain of the natural, formal, and social sciences. The humanities has generally had fewer research funds (thus discouraging resource-intensive scholarship), as well as little incentive to collaborate. These limitations have resulted in research findings — usually in print form — that are both produced and consumed by individual scholars working alone.
SHL exists to change that. By giving grants for humanities research with results that take nontraditional forms, SHL attempts to expand both the scope and scale of humanitas and to supplement traditional disciplinary endeavors with an outreach dimension. Whereas institutional pressures on humanities disciplines since World War II have fostered a narrowing of research agendas (sometimes to the point of hyperspecialization) SHL promotes a model of the humanities that is flexible andcross-disciplinary at the core — Big Humanities, to complement Big Science.

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