Rachel Midura, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Digital History at Virginia Tech

DH2020: Early Modern Digital Itineraries: Modeling European Place and Space, 1545-1747 Presentation

20 Jul 2020 » presentation

DH2020: Early Modern Digital Itineraries: Modeling European Place and Space, 1545-1747 Presentation

The following presentation was initially accepted for DH2020, the annual conference of the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations, to be hosted in Ottawa from 7/22/2020-7/24/2020. Due to COVID-19, the conference was converted into a virtual format hosted on Humanities Commons. My short-form presentation video (10 minutes/10 slides) has been deposited in the Humanities Commons Repository, and is available at the link below. The presentation features an introduction to the EmDigIt data, as well as a short summary of a forthcoming article
EmDigIt Presentation


Before the advent of formal cartography and its emphasis on observation, accuracy, and reliance on global standards, the itinerary was the height of geographic knowledge. Lists of cities and their relative distances, represented by many national “miles” or eventually the location of postal waystations, opened European travel to a broad readership. By the mid seventeenth-century, private and public individuals had access to, and knowledge of, a wide network of mounted couriers and staging posts, connecting trade, travel, and epistolary exchange from the hubs of Milan, Venice, and Innsbruck to Constantinople, Madrid, and the New World. European route networks were complex carrefours, bringing together merchants, pilgrims, tourists, and diplomats in both real and imagined space. Digital spatial approaches often rely upon modern mapmaking and its assumptions of a decentered viewpoint, direct distances, and national boundaries. The application of Social Network Analysis (SNA) to a corpus of 70 published itinerary books models the organizing logic of the itinerary genre and hierarchies of regions, cities and routes. While the pilgrimage path of St. James and trans-alpine commercial routes were widely republished, dynamic networks based on the dates of first and last publication indicate the influence of new postal hubs, sea travel, and cartography on early modern conceptions of a connected Europe. I develop dynamic cartograms, while adding new emphasis to their documentation of a contemporary mental map. A combination of spatial representation with Social Network Analysis (SNA) better recreates the early modern experience of space. Utilizing the SNA, TSNA, and networkDynamic packages in R, I construct and measure dynamic network models for comparison with spatial maps.


HCommons Deposit