Digital Humanities projects increasingly offer a range of advantage and utility to the academic community. They can provide useful tools for analysis and visualization of data, giving historians and others new avenues for research. They are a means by which scholars can make their work accessible to broader audiences. Consequently, they also act as a venue for collaboration with an expanding range of professional and amateur scholars from across the globe. This section of my profile highlights two of my ongoing digital projects, both of which are housed at my Historia Cartarum website.
Each listing has a synopsis of the project. To read further, click the inverted caret ( ) to expand the section.
Around the World in Thirty Goats
Synopsis: An original multimedia web series with Anna Waymack exploring and teaching about the Ebstorf mappamundi. The original map was destroyed in World War II, but we have secured funding to print a full-sized (12’x12′) reproduction and produce a 30-part series, with each show examining one of the map’s original 30 goatskin pieces. This is a public teaching project, and has external funding from Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps. We are currently in the planning stages of this project, with a projected publication date of Autumn 2020.
Matthew Paris’s Clickable Map: An Interactive Claudius Map
Synopsis: A fully annotated and interactive version of Matthew Paris’s c. 1250 map of Britain (BL Cotton MS Claudius D VI). Clicking on any element of the map highlights it and provides: a transcription of the medieval text; a modern translation; and a picture of the location that links to the relevant Wikipedia page. This goal of this small project is to introduce wide audiences to medieval mapping by making a fairly famous map legible and accessible.
Medieval Maps and Mapping Resources
Synopsis: An online bibliography and resource center for work on medieval maps and mapping. This is a joint project undertaken with Helen Davies, Tobias Hrynick, and Chris Rouse, with contributions from the Gough Map Project.
The Mapping Mandeville Project
Synopsis: A website combing an image of the Hereford map and text from The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, and offering a tool for teaching the world of the text.
This project is listed with the peer-reviewed Medieval Academy of America’s Medieval Digital Resources database, and won The Academy’s 2019 Digital Humanities and Multimedia Scholarship Prize.
This pedagogical project helps students gain a better appreciation of the 14th century travelogue, The Travels of Sir John Mandeville. Mandeville’s book is often difficult for undergraduate students to work with, in part because the geography that the text describes seems so foreign. Students attempting to place the book in a GIS framework fail, and then lose interest in the text. I argue, though, that Mandeville’s book articulates a coherent set of geographic principals that it holds in common with a genre of graphic maps — the medieval mappaemundi. That, in short, we need to treat Mandeville as a map, and to teach it as such. This project layers excerpts from Mandeville’s book onto a 1989 reproduction of the Hereford map, with the goal of demonstrating to students the viability of the book’s internal world. This approach to teaching the text requires additional work in terms of teaching some basic principals of medieval maps to students, but I believe that it offers students the chance for better engagement with the text.
The English Eel-Rents Project
Synopsis: A set of maps and data detailing my research into the details and meanings of medieval English eel-rents.
This project sprang out of my dissertation work trying to establish the place of eels in the English cultural landscape. I became interested in the question of eel-rents, a specific type of in-kind tax of eels that became increasingly less common over the course of the medieval period. My work suggests that eel-rents were more common than has generally been thought, with a broader geographic distribution. Moreover, I argue that eel-rents continued as a part of English cultural and economic life later than scholars have assumed. The Eel-Rents Project began as an effort to map the eel-rents by century, with the goal of better understanding how far these rents traveled, in what state the eels were when landlords accepted them as a de facto currency, and what role they played in the broader economy. This is currently the only publicly available single-site source covering questions related to the role of eels in medieval England.
The Eels of History: Dead Fish Stories
Synopsis: A website housing short articles discussing different aspects of eels’ role in human cultural and social history. The focus of the accounts is largely European and pre-modern. The site is intended as a space that can help engage readers in the the ways that the fish are interwoven with much of human history. I hope that this type of outreach can serve to spark interest in the existential plight that modern eels face from climate change, pollution, and illegal trafficking.
Recapturing Breydenbach’s Peregrinatio
Synopsis: An online project juxtaposing the maps and city-view woodcuts in Breydenbach’s 15th Century pilgrim itinerary with modern photographic images of the same sites and cities. A joint project with Dr. Anthony Bale and Anna Fore Waymack, hosted by Birkbeck, University of London. This project is currently under construction.