Jeffrey Schnapp

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Jeffrey T. Schnapp
Against glarss tile wall sm.jpg
Born New York, USA
Residence Cambridge, MA, USA
Citizenship American
Nationality American

Until joining the Harvard University faculty in 2011, Jeffrey Schnapp was the director of the Stanford Humanities Lab from its foundation in 2000 through 2010. At Stanford University he occupied the Pierotti Chair in Italian Literature and was professor of French & Italian, Comparative Literature, and German Studies. Though primarily based in the field of Italian studies, he has played a pioneering role in several areas of transdisciplinary research and led the development of a new wave of digital humanities work. His research interests extend from antiquity to the present, encompassing the material history of literature, the history of 20th-century architecture and design, and the cultural history of science and engineering. Trained as a Romance linguist, Schnapp is the author or editor of twenty five books and a large corpus of essays on authors such as Virgil, Dante, Hildegard of Bingen, Petrarch, Machiavelli, and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, and on topics such as late antique patchwork poetry, futurist and dadaist visual poetics, the cultural history of coffee consumption, glass architecture, and the iconography of the pipe in modern art. His book Crowds was the recipient of the Modernist Studies Association prize for best book of 2006.

At Harvard, he is Professor of Romance Languages & Literatures, teaches on the faculty of the Department of Architecture at the Graduate School of Design, and serves as faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. He is the founder/faculty director of metaLAB (at) Harvard.

Schnapp was the co-editor of the Johns Hopkins University Press quarterly Modernism/modernity, the official journal of the Modernist Studies Association, up through the end of 2014. He is also a guest curator who has collaborated with several leading museums: among them, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Cantor Arts Center, the Wolfsonian-FIU, the Triennale di Milano, and the Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio. His Trento Tunnels project — a 6000 sq. meter pair of superhighway tunnels at the entrance to the Northern Italian city of Trent, repurposed as an experimental history museum, has undergone two editions since 2008: "I Trentini e la Grande Guerra (Il popolo scomparso/la sua storia ritrovata)" (2008-2009) and "Storicamente ABC" (2010-). The project was included in the Italian pavilion of the 2010 Venice Biennale of Architecture and has also been exhibited at the MAXXI in Rome. He has also undertaken a number of other major museum and design projects with his collaborators Elisabetta Terragni (Terragni Architetti) and Daniele Ledda (XYcom).


In February 2011, Schnapp founded a new laboratory at Harvard under the aegis of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society: metaLAB (at) Harvard with his collaborators James Burns, Daniele Ledda, Kara Oehler, Gerard R. Pietrushko, and Jesse Shapins. It addresses "networked culture." MetaLAB has established a leading position in the field of experimental arts and humanities. Its personnel has evolved over the years and it currently defines itself as "a concept foundry, knowledge-design lab, and process studio proposing new forms for the networked arts, humanities, and sciences." The About page of its website reads: "Digging through dark abundance of media, material, and data collections, metaLAB embraces the processual artifacts buried within the lives of digital and physical objects. As the stories of these objects constellate with a shift from the micro to the macro, they prompt research challenges and opportunities that expose common galaxies for the academy, industry, and the public sphere. To demonstrate and translate unearthed histories and unmapped patterns, metaLAB research inquiries mature as expressive provocations that strive to make invisible connections visible. With a team composed variously of scholars, writers, designers, developers, and filmmakers, metaLAB projects manifest as experiments in publication, pedagogy, and curation showcased in print, on the web, and in exhibited spaces. By combining traditional modes of practice, metaLAB research infuses scholarship with the enterprising spirit of hacking, making, and artistic investigation."

The Library Beyond the Book[edit]

Schnapp's The Library Beyond the Book of 2013 (published in 2014), written with Matthew Battles, surveys elements of libraries potentially relevant to today's transitional digital era. It examines past mainstays such as buildings, shelves, catalogs, access cards, reference desks, carrel desks, and librarians, and wonders how each might find new purpose in the near future. It discusses the importance of databases, digital preservation, mobile libraries, serendipity, cloistering, and meatspaces, and mentions initiatives such as Rio de Janeiro's Manguinhos Library Park, the pop-up Occupy Wall Street Library, Chattanooga Public Library's makerspace, the Digital Public Library of America, and London's Idea Store.[1] In the words of one reviewer, the authors "imagine six plausible scenarios for serving tomorrow’s diverse information consumers, situating libraries as everything from study shelters to civic institutions functioning as mobile libraries, reading rooms promoting social change, and/or event-driven knowledge centers."[2] It is the first in a series of Metalab publications "that will investigate the role of print-based scholarship in the digital age."[3] The work is supported by a website located at

Cold Storage[edit]

Among metaLAB's recent experiments is "Cold Storage": an experimental web documentary (or so-called database documentary) made up of over 500 media objects developed in 2013-2015 as an “animated archive” and extension of the volume "The Library Beyond the Book," published in 2014 in the metaLABprojects series by Harvard University Press. Available at, the work was directed by Cristoforo Magliozzi and produced by Schnapp.

Principal books[edit]

  • The Transfiguration of History at the Center of Dante's Paradise. Princeton & Guildford: Princeton U P, 1986.
  • L'Espositione di Bernardino Daniello da Lucca sopra la Commedia di Dante. Ed. with Robert Hollander; in collaboration with Kevin Brownlee and Nancy J. Vickers. Hanover & London: U P of New England, 1989.
  • The Poetry of Allusion: Virgil and Ovid in Dante's Commedia. Ed. with Rachel Jacoff. Stanford: Stanford U P, 1991.
  • Staging Fascism: 18 BL and The Theater of Masses for Masses. Stanford: Stanford U P, 1996. Expanded edition (in Italian translation), 18 BL. Mussolini e l'opera d'arte di massa. Milan: Garzanti Editore, 1996.
  • A Primer of Italian Fascism. Edition with commentary and introduction. Trans. by Jeffrey T. Schnapp, Olivia E. Sears, and Maria Stampino. European Horizons series. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000.
  • Gaetano Ciocca. Costruttore, inventore, scrittore. Introduction by Giorgio Ciucci. With brief contributions by Massimo Martignoni and Paola Pettenella. Quaderni di Architettura 3. Museo di Arte Moderna, Trento-Rovereto. Milan: Skira, 2000.
  • Vedette fiumane. L'occupazione vista e vissuta da Madeleine Witherspoon Dent Gori-Montanelli, crocerossina americana, e da Francesco Gori-Montanelli, Capo del Genio e del reparto fotografico. Ed. with introduction, notes, and iconographic apparatus. Trans. Valentina Ricci. Venice: Marsilio Editore, 2000.
  • Hugo Ball/Jonathan Hammer, Ball and Hammer (Tenderenda the Fantast). Edited and introduced by Jeffrey T. Schnapp. New Haven: Yale U P, 2002.
  • Anno X. La Mostra della Rivoluzione fascista del 1932: genesi - sviluppo - contesto culturale-storico - ricezione. With an afterword by Claudio Fogu. Piste - Piccola biblioteca di storia 4. Rome-Pisa: Istituti Editoriali e Poligrafici Internazionali, 2003.
  • Building Fascism, Communism, Democracy: Gaetano Ciocca—Builder, Inventor, Farmer, Writer, Engineer. Stanford: Stanford U P, 2003.
  • In cima—Giuseppe Terragni per Margherita Sarfatti (Nuove architetture della memoria), catalogue for exhibition of same name, curated and edited by Jeffrey T. Schnapp, Centro Internazionale Andrea Palladio, Vicenza, June 26, 2004 – January 1, 2005. Venice: Marsilio Editore, June 2004.
  • Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Teatro, edited by Jeffrey T. Schnapp, 2 vols., Oscar Mondadori, (Milan: Mondadori 2004).
  • Revolutionary Tides, catalogue for exhibition of same name, curated and edited by Jeffrey T. Schnapp, Cantor Arts Center / The Wolfsonian-FIU, Hoover Institution, (Milan: Skira and Cantor Arts Center, 2005). Italian, French, and English editions.
  • Crowds, ed. by Jeffrey T. Schnapp and Matthew Tiews, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006).
  • Neoantiqua - Nove ensaios sobre literatura, linguagem e pensamento na Idade Média e no Renascimiento. Introduction by Luiz Costa-Lima. Trans. Erick Felinto de Oliveira, Alessandra Vannucci, and Maria Lucia Daflon. (Collection of essays, some previously published, translated into Portuguese). Rio de Janeiro: Eduerj (Editora da Universidade do Estado de Rio de Janeiro), 2008.
  • Italiamerica I, ed. and introduced by Emanuela Scarpellini and Jeffrey T. Schnapp, vol. 1, Fondazione Mondadori, Milan: Il Saggiatore, 2008.
  • SPEED limits, ed. by Jeffrey T. Schnapp, Wolfsonian-FIU and the Canadian Center for Architecture, Milan: Skira, 2009.
  • The Electric Information Age Book: McLuhan / Agel / Fiore and the Experimental Paperback, with Adam Michaels, introduction by Steven Heller, afterword by Andrew Blauvelt, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2012.
  • Italiamerica II, ed. and introduced by Emanuela Scarpellini and Jeffrey T. Schnapp, vol. 2, Fondazione Mondadori, Milan: Il Saggiatore, 2012.
  • Modernitalia, ed. by Francesca Santovetti, Italian Modernities 13, New York: Peter Lang, 2012.
  • Digital_Humanities, with Anne Burdick, Johanna Drucker, Peter Lunenfeld, and Todd Presner, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012. Open edition available at
  • Jeffrey T. Schnapp; Matthew Battles (2014). The Library Beyond the Book. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-72503-4. 


  1. ^ Jeffrey T. Schnapp; Matthew Battles (2014). The Library Beyond the Book. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-72503-4. 
  2. ^ Jerry P. Miller (June 2014), "Reviews", Library Journal 
  3. ^ Justin Wadland (August 18, 2014), "Library in the Future Tense", Los Angeles Review of Books 

External links[edit]