Caesarius of Heisterbach and Network Analysis

Caesarius of Heisterbach (c.1180-c.1240) was a monk at the Cistercian house of Heisterbach in Germany. He is best known for the Dialogue of Miracles, a collection of over 800 miracles stories. These stories tell us a lot about life and thought in early thirteenth-century Germany, but, since Caesarius recorded the sources of many of his stories, they also provide insights into his network of friends and contacts. This project uses this information to examine the extent and character of his social network. It investigates basic aspects such as the status and gender of its members, but it also asks more complex questions. How did geography shape the network and the frequency of communications within it? How did the internal hierarchy of the Cistercian Order influence the flow of information? And to what extent does the literary nature of the source affect our evidence?

This project is run by Helen Birkett from the University of Exeter as part of her research on Cistercian networks and storytelling. Helen is based in Wesleyan this semester and is working with a small group of students to create an extended database of interactions for further network analysis.

Student members of the Caesarius Lab:

  • Rachel Chung
  • Rebecca Greenberg
  • Elizaveta Kravchenko
  • Sara Kim