One landscape, different paths. Rediscussing digital approaches to premodern geographical knowledge

One landscape, different paths. Rediscussing digital approaches to premodern geographical knowledge
8 February 2022, 4.00pm - 5.15pm
Online- via Zoom

This talk is going to address the problem of digitizing premodern sources about landscape and navigation, particularly but not exclusively in the Mediterranean world. Written and visual sources that deal with travel and navigation are the result of a tension between the materiality of the landscape and man as an embodied presence in it, mediated through culture, language, geographical understanding, and multisensorial experience. These sources are the result of a complex interplay between materiality and immateriality and are never completely disconnected from the environment they are meant to describe. Some, such as rock inscriptions, monumental maps, and milestones, function as extensions of the landscape itself. Further complexity is added by the use of non-cartographic spatial reference systems, and by a fundamentally different understanding of the “ground truth”, where there are different rules of representation than just “what is materially there”. The digital modelling of premodern spatial sources must consider not only the expressive and visual peculiarities of geographical representation, but also their relation to a particular embodied understanding of the material landscape. Digital methods seem to be especially well-equipped for the representation of multi-layered experiences: however, it is also important to consider what may get lost in the process, starting from the material and multisensorial aspect of the landscape, to the tacit knowledge on pragmatic navigation that the sources do not explicitly encode. To what extent can we design digital methods that provide an accurate understanding of premodern spatial knowledge systems, and to what extent are they generalizable? What models, if any, could offer new ways to look at the problem?

SpeakerChiara Palladino (Furman University)

This seminar is co-hosted by the 
Digital Humanities Research Hub, University of London, UK, and Star-UBB Institute of Advanced Studies, University Babeș-Bolyai, Cluj Napoca, Romania.

All welcome, but advanced registration is required.


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