Talking Through the Issues: A Podcast Series on the Crusader States

This post is cross-blogged from History at Fordham University

crusaderstA new conversation has started within the History Department at Fordham. Under the direction of Dr. Nicholas Paul, graduate students in his Crusader States class are developing podcasts as a means to initiate discussion. The course, “charts the social, political, and cultural history of the feudal principalities (sometimes called “Crusader States” “the Latin East” or the ‘Frankish Levant”) that were established by Latin Christians in the Eastern Mediterranean in the wake of the First Crusade.” The podcasts, in turn, each focus on a specific theme within the current scholarship, from the background to the First Crusade in the Eastern Mediterranean, to the relationships between Latin Europeans and eastern Christians and Muslims, through the cultural, social, and political development of the Crusader States themselves

What are the advantages of the podcast format? Tom Schellhammer, a student in the course, commented that, “Historical scholarship must also embrace the current trend towards technological interaction,” as “Technology allows us to reach a wide audience, and this idea is a fantastic intro to anyone interested in learning more about the Crusader States. A podcast can build interest by succinctly covering the important discussion points on any one topic, and highlighting the importance of the topic and asking intriguing questions that spark even more debate and scholarship.”

For Tom, and all of the students in The Crusader States, further and broader discussion about the aftermath of the First Crusade is the ultimate goal, and they believe that using podcasts promotes that within and beyond their seminar. Tom says, “I think that as a class we have come up with some thought provoking questions which might benefit a larger community studying the Crusader States.   I find the material challenging and want to hear outside comments upon the work that we are doing, so I appreciate the opportunity to be heard and receive feedback on our discussions. On a topic that has interest in such widespread and diverse communities,  the podcasts truly help reach outside thoughts and opinions and ignite those same thoughts to be shared here at Fordham.”

Check out all the podcasts and listen to Tom address issues faced by the Crusader military and debate whether the creation of new states was inevitable in the aftermath of the First Crusade. History is about so much more than the sources analyzed and papers written– it is about sharing what we learn with others in hopes of creating an atmosphere of inquiry, debate, and ultimately, understanding.

Student Spotlight: CMS Summer Intern Rachel Zeltzer (Bennington College)

Hi, my name is Rachael Zeltzer! I am a senior at Bennington College focusing on Christianity in the early Middle Ages. This summer, I interned for the Center for Medieval Studies with the Digital Humanities (D.H.) team. Before this experience, I honestly did not know very much about Digital Humanities; however, I quickly realized just how much D.H. could transform and alter data, sources, and even just words. When I arrived at Fordham, the D.H. team was in the middle of two major mapping projects, and I was lucky enough to be a contributor to both of these! rachelz

One of the projects (Forthcoming: Exploring Place in the French of Italy) involved taking a corpus of French texts written in Italy during the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries, scanning them into the computer, using programs to strip the text, searching for certain geographical places and how many times they occurred, compiling this data into spread sheets, and then mapping the toponyms onto different maps. Though I was specifically working with the data sheets, this project allowed me, as well as the rest of the team, to think about these texts in entirely new ways. Because it was digitalized, we were also able to manipulate the data differently.

Even though mapping is not necessarily part of my studies, I was so excited to be working with such a driven, intelligent team. This project not only taught me more about the French of Italy and its geographical context/importance, but also about how to, refreshingly, think about the humanities and the Middle Ages. Digital Humanities is something I now want to try to bring to Bennington!

I want to thank Dr. Hafner, Dr. Morreale, and the rest of the team for being a part of such a fruitful, interesting, and rewarding experience!

Graduate Students Participate in “Digital Day”

On August 27th, Fordham’s medievalists invited faculty and students from across the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences to participate in the first annual Digital Day, co-sponsored by the Center for Medieval Studies and GSAS Futures. Alisa Beer (History Ph.D. Program; MVST ’13) and David Smigen-Rothkopf (Medieval Studies M.A. Program) taughtDigital Daystudents how to use Photoshop and WordPress to create their own professionally-oriented websites and visual materials. The workshop was the first of the Center’s professional workshops for the 2015-2016 academic year.

CMS launches the Oxford Outremer Map Project

On June 17, at Saint Louis University’s Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Dr. Nicholas Paul and Dr. Laura Morreale publicly launched a major project sponsored by Fordham’s Center for Medieval Studies, under construction since July of last year. In collaboration with graduate students and other center affiliates, they set out to create a digitally enhanced and interactive version of a map created by Matthew Paris in the thirteenth century, increasing its accessibility for further research. The website also features essays and discussion pages, as well as a methodological report on the technical work flow accompanied by a short video.

We are planning a colloquium to discuss this map on April 9th, 2016 at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus. For more information, contact medievals@fordham.edu.

The Oxford Outremer Map Project

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New Interactive French of Italy TimeMap

This week the Venerable Blog would like to highlight a new feature of the French of Italy project, our TimeMap. This map plots over two hundred witnesses of French-language texts created in Italy from 1250-1500, both chronologically and spatially. Each map point is clickable, and opens an informative text box with links to the full French of Italy entry, and in many cases, directs the user to the manuscript original of that particular witness.french of italy picture

One of the goals of the map project is to provide a visual representation of some of the most cutting-edge scholarship concerning the French of Italy repertoire. Much work has been done recently, particularly by Italian scholars, to provide a more precise localization of these textual witnesses within the Italian peninsula. Particular attention, for example, has been paid to the corpus of texts created in and around Genoa at the end of the thirteenth century, and the growing number of texts attributed to this locale is easily visible. This map aims to provide a visual narrative of these new findings and to challenge users to think about how and by whom French was used in Italy during this period.

The site’s director, Laura Morreale,  rolled out the new initiative in mid-October at a conference held at the Università Ca’Foscari in Venice, sponsored by the journal Medievo Romanzo. The conference, entitled “Il Franco-Italiano,” featured well-known philologists and literary scholars working on this corpus, and closed with a panel highlighting digital projects which address this repertoire. Fordham’s French of Italy site was among a number of web sites discussed at the conference, along with the Università Degli Studi di Padova’s Rialfri, the Mirabile of Università e della Ricerca, and the MFLCOF site (Medieval Francophone Literary Culture outside France) based at King’s College London but has yet to be released for public consumption.

Depending on the feedback from TimeMap users, scholars at Fordham are also interesed in plotting the repertoires of our sister sites, the French of England and the French of Outremer. Please check out the map and send feedback via this blog or the site’s email, frenchofitaly@fordham.edu.