Discovering Tools and Training Skills at the Brepols ReIReS DH Course – an Interview with Federico Alpi

In its training programme, ReIReS makes young scholars acquainted with quite a number of tools and skills required for historical-religious studies. Federico Alpi (a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia and a member of Fscire) followed the recent Digital Humanities course organized by Brepols.

We asked him about his experiences: what tools were important to him? What skills did he practice?

Federico, tell us about yourself and your research.

I am an Armenologist, and I therefore deal with “all things Armenian”. My focus, however, is on Armenian history in the 8th-14th centuries and interaction with the Byzantine Empire, the Latin West and the Iranian world. For Fscire I coordinate the Armenian section of the Conciliorum Oecumenicorum Generaliumque Decreta, which includes critical editions of the decrees emanated by the general councils of the Armenian Church.

Which of the presented tools by Brepols are important for your research, and why?

I can hardly think of a tool that is not useful. The Index Religiosus, with its comprehensive collection of articles in different languages, was already a major instrument for me. Along with the Année Philologique (for Classical and Late Antiquity) it is the backbone of any research in the periods and areas that I cover. The same can be said of the Sources Chrétiennes Online. Even Latin databases, however, such as the Library of Latin Texts and the Database of Latin Dictionaries proved to be useful: their wide scope includes also the 12th-14th centuries, a period of extensive interactions between Armenians and Latins.

What skills did you train during the course?

The training in the extended search features of the Library of Latin Texts was new to me. I am used to figure out myself how to use tools, and if they are well designed it usually works. However, a full training unveiled features that would have taken time and effort for me to discover. The presentation of tools for linguistic annotation and stylistic analysis of texts, also, can be considered as a skill in which I was trained. It built upon previous expertise I gained from ReIReS courses and  it really helped me understanding and communicating to others the potential and dynamics behind those tools.

Since you have attended several ReIReS trainings, what do you think is the importance of these training for young researchers?

Each time I participate in a training, I am surprised by how many new skills and tools I discover. I thought that after a couple of trainings, the novelty would subside. On the contrary, there is always something new I can relate to. Interaction with trainers and fellow participants is also helpful in that.

When it will be possible to travel freely again, it will be even better!


Thank you very much for this interview, Federico!