Professor of Spanish | Dey 334

At UNC since 1990


1986-90 PhD in Renaissance Spanish Linguistic Thought

University of California, Santa Barbara
Department of Spanish and Portuguese June 1990

1984-85 M.A. in Spanish Philology, cum laude

Università degli Studi di Pisa
Dipartimento di Lingue e Letterature Romanze June 1985

1980-84 B.A. in Romance Philology, cum laude

Università degli Studi di Pisa
Dipartimento di Lingue e Letterature Romanze June 1984

Other Appointments

Director, Honors Study Abroad in Rome


My research focuses on the links between the Spanish and Italian languages in the Renaissance. Two major publications and about 27 articles on my CV are devoted to describing, analyzing and assessing the cultural mechanisms that led Spain to selectively import and imitate the values of the Italian Renaissance. This aspect of historical linguistics is grounded in cultural history. My monography The Theory Known as “primitive Castilian: “Nationalism and Linguistic Reflections in the Spanish Renaissance (Munster: Nodus Publikationen, 1995) examines the cultural context of the origins of Spanish linguistic consciousness. The book has been lauded by the way it illustrates how the political and religious beliefs of the time affect Renaissance linguistic history. Cultural Capital, Language and National Identity in Early Modern Spain (London: Tamesis, 2012) continues to develop the topic of the Renaissance theories about the origins and value of language, and how it was transformed by Spain’s involvement with the construction of imperial and colonial ideology. The book eases the reader through thorny issue of historiography and occupies an important place on the study of culture and its creations.

Digital Innovations — Transdisciplinary, Experiental, Broad Impact, Sustainable Scholarship

In the late 2000’s my scholarship took “the digital turn,” as we say, and in 2011 I was the recipient of an NEH Digital Humanities Start Up Grant for the project Gnovis: Flowing Through The Galaxy of Knowledge. Gnovis is as a data harvesting and visualization tool designed specifically to enable visualization of data relevant to the humanities. In 2010, it was one of the first known Digital Humanities solutions to visualize linked data, at a time in which the application of Big Data research to the Humanities was unheard of.

In 2013 and 2014, I designed a customized digital toolkit for my Rome Study abroad program that geolocates and visualizes thematic itineraries while enabling the organization and management of traditional content and allowing students to collaborate online. In 2015, Gnovis’s theoretical scope and the concrete usability of the Rome tool merged into larger DH scholarly project The Walkable Classroom (TWC). TWC leverages a set of intuitive digital tools that allow for the threading of humanistic content in a multimedia narrative layered over space, thus opening immense possibilities for the re-organization and re-interpretation of established textual content, and offering a useful operational lens to all those who are currently interested in the intersection of conventional humanistic studies with the study of place, people and environment. In terms of design and scope, TWC aligns theoretically with the principles expounded by Michael Shank and Jeffrey Schnapp in the foundational manifesto (2011) that buttresses the inception of the Stanford Design Lab. As a prototype, TWC is a strong illustration of the arguments proposed by Alan Galey, Stan Ruecker and the INKE Team in “How a prototype argues,” (2010) where they explore the theoretical affinities shared by recent design and book history scholarship to demonstrate how, just as an edition of a book can be a means of reifying a theory about how books should be edited, so can the creation of an experimental digital prototype be understood as conveying an argument about designing interfaces.

As of 2016, I have authored several sub-projects stemming from the thinking context promoted by TWC technology: an Itinerant Introduction to Renaissance Culture; an Itinerant Introduction to Renaissance Art History; a digital revision of the survey course Intro to Medieval and Early Modern Spanish Literature. Currently, I am working on a theoretical framework within which to further explore TWC’s possibilities of loosening the traditional boundaries that constrain national and period definitions of cultures and literatures, by inviting use-based, transactional and transnational scholarly approaches to the spatial, environmental and mobile humanities.

Digital Innovation — Transdisciplinary, Experiental, Broad Impact, Sustainable, and Engaged Scholarship

It has become customary to equate the Digital Humanities with Engaged Scholarship. The digital humanist’s potential as a public influencer makes it possible and thrilling to think of the many socially embedded ways our expertise can make a difference. In my case, I really wanted to find ways in which sociolinguistic awareness can alleviate some of the difficulties experienced by people in challenging intercultural situations, especially those where the language barrier is an added stressor. Thus, during the fall of 2014 I embarked on How Do You Say It?, a community engaged project that crowd sources, layers, maps and visualizes information about the Spanish language varieties used to address Latino/a audiences in the prevention of IPV (InterPersonal Violence). This proof of concept website gave way to the project’s second phase, Entiendelo. An App Helping Latin@s and their Advocates Navigate Stressful Linguistic and Cultural Situations. The app contains three essential parts, all of them connected: 1) a glossary that aims to collect all Hispanic-American and US Latino variants of keywords associated with violence and healing, along with an urban dictionary that contains literary excerpts and authentic street sentences; 2) an interactive bilingual collection of inspirational quotes; 3) an interactive bilingual game, based on the model of Spent, where players are faced with the dilemmas of being a monolingual Spanish speaker in situations where their lack of English dominance becomes a hindrance. These three components of Entiendelo are culturally oriented to empower US Spanish speaking populations, as well as the communities that serve them, to better understand their situation and to provide resources that help them take control of their own lives. Entiendelo was born as an interdisciplinary project that stems from the partnership of four fundamentally different disciplinary practices, Linguistics, Social Work, Computer Sciences, and Literary Studies. The project profits from the synthesis of these four disciplines’ distinct methodologies to reinforce the public impact of use-based collaborative research. It shows that the hybridization of approaches and communal use of resources coming from disparate fields of inquiry, even when each one separately engages mainly in the analysis of symbolic or abstract systems, promotes consideration of important cultural and historical concepts of self and community and becomes a powerful yet practical tool to engage people in social action.

Typical Courses

  • SPAN 738
  • SPAN 721
  • SPAN 682
  • SPAN 621
  • SPAN 377
  • SPAN 371
  • SPAN 260
  • HNRS 089

Professor Binotti is currently accepting any ROMS students interested in the Digital Humanities and/or Early Modern Renaissance, regardless of their main language disciplinary focus.