This laboratory is intended for the students enrolled in Dr. Andrea Baldi’s Italian 368 course, Walking in the Metropolis. We’re going to work through three research questions as a way to familiarize ourselves with the resources of the Rutgers University Libraries, as well as a few other major digital libraries and catalogs. Along the way, we’ll also take a look at how citation managers can simplify bibliographies and footnotes. My hope is that we’ll all learn a few useful things that will make research paper writing a little less burdensome and more fun and interesting!
I’ve been developing an Italian Research Guide that I hope will be of assistance to you as you do your research. You can also look there to find my contact information and my availability for research assistance.
Research Question no. 1
You’ve decided to research the critical reception of Roberto Rossellini’s 1945 film Open City (in Italian: Roma, città aperta ). Your professor expects to see in your bibliography:  monographs,  scholarly articles, and  one or two trade or news media publications.
Some questions to consider
- Can you find books and articles in Italian as well as in English? Is there a way to restrict search results to be in either or both of those languages?
- How many results do you get in each index? How many look relevant to your topic?
- Is there a way to compare the contemporaneous (i.e. post-war) media perceptions of the film to more modern perceptions?
Indexes to use for this question
- The library catalog (for books, media, and serial titles only)
- Articles+, the discovery interface on the home page of the Rutgers University Libraries.
- The Film & Television Literature Index (FTLI)
- The MLA International Bibliography
- Google Scholar
- ProQuest Historical Newspapers for the contemporaneous reception; Factiva and FTLI for the more current media reception.
As we work through this question, I will demonstrate how to save bibliographic records of selected books and articles to Zotero, a citation manager that I use for my own research. Some of my RUL colleagues prefer RefWorks, but I personally find Zotero to be more user friendly. Zotero works as a Firefox and Chrome plugin (note: the Firefox plugin works best, in my opinion). There are also Microsoft Word and LibreOffice plugins to format footnotes in whatever citation style you require. Zotero is free and open source, so you can keep using it even after you graduate from Rutgers. There are also social features that I enjoy, like crowdsourced bibliographies. You can find out more about the citation management tools that the Rutgers University Libraries support here.
Research Question no. 2
You’ve chosen the Scapigliatura artistic movement of the mid- to late-nineteenth century as your research topic. To get started, you consult some print reference sources (1-3) and do a Google search and find one Italian website (4). Explain what you find in these sources. How reliable is this information? Would you use these sources for your research paper? Why, or why not? Some factors to consider:
- Consider the extent of the entry (e.g., length and depth)
- Is there a bibliography? Are the sources reputable? How helpful could the bibliography be for your research?
- Is an author named? What is the author’s expertise? (Hint: try a web search for the author)
- For the website, you may not find all of your answers on the provided web page. You may have to look at other pages on the site (e.g. About or Home) or search the web for more information about the person or organization that created the site.
Sources for this question
- Caesar, Ann. “Scapigliatura.” The Oxford Companion to Italian Literature. Eds. Peter Hainsworth and David Robey. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print.
- Dombroski, Robert S. “Scapigliatura.” Dictionary of Italian Literature. Eds. Peter Bondanella and Julia Conaway Bondanella. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996. Print.
- Marcazzan, Mario. “Scapigliatura.” Enciclopedia Italiana di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti. Vol. 30. 1936. Print.
- Liceo San Sepolcro. “Scapigliatura.” Rapporto padri e figli nell’eta del Risorgimento, nell’Italia post-unitaria, nel primo novecento. Web. 13 February 2015 http://www.sansepolcroliceo.it/padri/generale/schede-opere/scapigliatura.htm.
Research Question no. 3
You are looking for a still frame and a promotional image or film (for example, a poster, a publicity still, or a trailer) of Vittorio De Sica’s Ladri di Bicciclette that you can use in your final digital project. Generally speaking, for digital projects, you want to find still images or audiovisual material that is licensed for reuse, so that you don’t have to worry about infringing on the rights of a third party. Copyright infringement is less of a concern with still frames (considered a small portion of a larger work), but becomes more of an issue with publicity stills and trailers. In this case, we won’t worry about it much, since you are creating the digital project for a class, and can mostly likely argue that your use is fair.
Search engines and digital libraries to use
- Google Advanced Image Search – https://www.google.com/advanced_image_search
- You can make sure that the images you select from are licensed for reuse by scrolling down to the last field, usage rights, and selecting “free to use and share.” Occasionally this will result in too few choices. As long as you are using the visual material for the purposes of critique and analysis, you should be okay.1
- Europeana – http://europeana.eu/
- The Europeana digital portal has facets for rights that appear on the left once you launch a search. You can choose to limit your search to objects that are in the public domain or free to use with attribution.
- Creative Commons Search – http://search.creativecommons.org/
- Make sure that “use for commercial purposes” is unchecked, since you are not attempting to make money from your digital project.
- Search using: Flickr (but you can feel free to try other sources as well).
- Experiment with leaving “modify, adapt, or build upon” checked and unchecked. What differences do you note?
- Internet Culturale – http://www.internetculturale.it/opencms/opencms/it/index.html
- Make sure the Biblioteca digitale radio button is selected. The default selection is cataloghi (which is useful in its own right when you’re trying to discover Italian language books on a given subject).
- You will find it productive to limit your search results by formato digitale: jpeg or formato digitale: tiff.
- You may also find it productive to search instead on keywords: Vittorio De Sica, and perhaps limiting by soggetto: fotografia di set cinematografico, or soggetto: cinema. But the results will no longer be about Ladri.
Although I’ve asked you to evaluate four sources, you only need to select two (2) digital objects for this question. Try to cite them using the MLA citation style, for which you will need at the very least a creator, a title, a date (n.d. is acceptable in case there isn’t one), a medium, and a source (more on the MLA citation style here). If ever you find an image online for which this information is in scant supply, you can try a reverse image search to see if another website has cataloged the object more thoroughly. I suggest TinEye or Google Search By Image.
What differences did you note between these four sources? How easy was it to collect information like the name of the creator or the date of creation? Where you able to find a video trailer that was licensed for reuse? Why, or why not?
The Douglass Media Library owns many of the major Italian films of the post-war period. As Rutgers undergraduates, you can check most of them out for a 7-day loan period, or you can view them in groups in one of the viewing rooms in Douglass. See Douglass Media Center Services for more information.
1. For more context on fair use of images and audiovisual material in an online environment, see Center for Media and Social Impact report entitled Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for OpenCourseWare. Available at http://www.cmsimpact.org/ocw.