SSHA in Montreal: November 5

The Traveler’s Lab hosted its own panel — “Mapping Communication in Late Medieval Europe” — as part of the Historical Geography and GIS strand at the annual meeting of the Social Science History Association conference (held this year in Montreal).

Our papers (below) featured (and credited!) student work done in the Traveler’s Lab over the last several years by student researchers Logan Davis (Marlboro ’17), Stephanie Ling (Wes ’16), Connor Cobb (Wes ’18), Elliott Williams (Wes ’18), Elizaveta Kravchenko (Wes ’19), Rachel Chung (Wes ’18), Rebecca Greenberg (Wes ’19), Ilana Newman (’18), and Maia Reumann-Moore (Wes ’19). We are also all indebted to the ongoing collaborative help from our colleague Prof. Pavel Oleinikov.

In her formalĀ  response to the papers, Ann McCants (MIT, history) expressed the significance of the fact that our model for pursuing rigorous and innovative historical research with undergraduates needs to be pursued and expanded as a model for the field.
Commentators urged us to use our methods to bore down into questions that medieval history has traditionally had a very hard time pursuing, such as non-elite travelers and quantifying the impact of the seasons on movement.
Prof. Shaw’s paper even elicited a live-tweet from Prof. Leo Lucassen, director of the International Institute of Social History at Leiden University.

Above: The Traveler’s Lab team (l-r: Jesse W. Torgerson, Helen Birkett, Gary Shaw, Adam Franklin-Lyons) responds to questions from the audience.

(left) Adam Franklin-Lyons walks through how he has been able to use the data from the 14/15th-century Datini Archive to establish expected travel times between cities.
(right) Helen Birkett shows how paying careful attention to the transmission of stories in Caesarius of Heisterbach’s 13th-century Dialogue of Miracles is beginning to allow her to see a real social network start to emerge from this collection of narratives.






Photo credit: John Clark (Lafayette College) & J.W. Torgerson