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Juan Latino in the Digital Age

Mathias Hanses, Stephen Wheeler

This project aims to make readily available and accessible through digital media the works of Juan Latino (1518-1594/96), who was a Black African professor of Classics in Granada. Juan Latino wrote several volumes worth of Latin poetry, including most importantly the epic, the Austriad, celebrating a naval victory of allied Catholic forces over an Ottoman armada at Lepanto (Greek port of Naupactus) in 1571. Juan Latino’s works were not reprinted after their first publication in the late sixteenth century. Research questions include: to what extent does Juan Latino model his poetry on classical sources? How do cultural traditions of Africa and the African diaspora impact his writings? What influence does Juan Latino’s status as a freed slave play in his self-representation as a poet? Why has Juan Latino’s poetry been neglected? Our immediate goal is to produce a machine-actionable edition from transcription of original text (including paratexts) either manually or with OCR software. Further, we plan to create a hypertext that links individual words and phrases to dictionary entries, translations, commentary, and contextual information, both visual and literary. We would also hope to design and implement algorithms for a search engine that locates and identifies words and verbal parallels between Juan Latino and other texts.