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Early Modern Digital Itineraries

Data-Driven Approaches to Premodern Travel

The Journey Begins: EmDigIt Receives NEH Digital Humanities Advancement Grant

The historical experience of travel fascinates a wide audience. Scholars, authors of historical fiction, tabletop game designers, and curious readers or players pose similar questions, such as how far could I go? How much would it cost me? How would I know where to journey next? At the heart of these questions sits a foundational inquiry for the humanities: what does it mean to navigate space without scientific cartography, never mind GPS? Answers remain elusive even to advanced scholars, often further stymied by the lack of analysis-ready spatial data for the premodern world.

The Early Modern Digital Itineraries (EmDigIt) Project advances new collaborative and data-driven approaches to premodern travel. We will be hosting three virtual workshops over the course of October 2023-June 2024 as well as an in-person conference in the Washington D.C. Area in August 2024. These events will bring together the expert advisory board and diverse cohort of participants working at the crossroads of premodern travel and digital, spatial humanities. Workshop participants and board members will collaborate on original research, culminating in a conference and white paper providing a state-of-the-field of digital, premodern spatial history. Participant feedback and research contributions will lay the groundwork for the future development of an EmDigIt Project web platform.

In short, project goals will be the following:

  • Establish a network among researchers, data specialists, and digital humanists at various career stages and institutions researching premodern digital, spatial history.
  • Familiarize participants with the EmDigIt database and use participant feedback to iteratively improve the project workflow, data, and eventual web platform development.
  • Troubleshoot linking digital, spatial data across existing resources such as the World Historical Gazetteer as well as the many other DH projects with which participants and advisory board members are affiliated.
  • Pursue early test cases of how EmDigIt data and future web platform could best support exploration, visualization, and analysis in original research.

The call for applications has closed, but watch this site for future opportunities!