Scholars, Teachers and Students in Early Medieval Europe: Towards a Total Network

October 10th, 2013 | Posted by amandastarling in Uncategorized

Network_Ecologies Symposium Teaser

Duke’s own Dr. Clare Woods and her collaborator research scientist – and visualization genius – Eric Monson will be presenting Woods’s project mapping intellectual networks in early medieval Europe in our Saturday morning session. It will be filled with images and maps and charts and graphs!

“Scholars, Teachers and Students in Early Medieval Europe: Towards a Total Network”

In the age of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other global social networking tools, networks and ways in which we can (re)construct and analyze them have become an important focus of research across the disciplines. This is no less true for those of us studying the premodern world, where networks (whether social, political, familial or intellectual) were both the fabric and the driving force of societies. This talk, part of a larger project, is concerned with intellectuals (scholars, teachers and their students) active in the late eighth through ninth centuries, a period usually referred to as the Carolingian Renaissance. By interrogating recent scholarship on early medieval intellectuals and their networks, I demonstrate the limits of text-based network studies, and argue that we cannot gain a fully nuanced and accurate understanding of early medieval intellectual networks unless we use new digital tools to visualize our data. The very process of visualization enables–even requires–us to ask different and larger questions of our sources. Visual models handle complex data more effectively than text-based narratives: layering different sorts of network — correspondence, travel itineraries, manuscript distribution data — leads to new discoveries, and new avenues for research.

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