CFP: Digital Mapping and Art History

    Cool! Middlebury made a Summer Institute for Itinera!

    Middlebury, Vermont, August 3 - 15, 2014
    Deadline: Mar 3, 2014

    Summer Institute on Digital Mapping and Art History
    Call for Applicants

    Middlebury College, Middlebury VT
    August 3-15, 2014

    Middlebury College is pleased to invite applications for Fellows to
    participate in the first Summer Institute on Digital Mapping and Art
    History (August 3-15, 2014), generously sponsored by the Samuel H.
    Kress Foundation. Co-directed by Paul B. Jaskot (DePaul University) and
    Anne Kelly Knowles (Middlebury College), the Summer Institute will
    emphasize how digital mapping of art historical evidence can open up
    new veins of research in art history as a whole. All art historians of
    any rank (including graduate students, curators, or independent
    scholars) with a scholarly problem related to spatial evidence or
    questions are encouraged to apply.

    Whether talking about the spreading influence of Rembrandt’s workshop,
    Haussmann’s Plan of Paris, the Roman Forum, the caves of Dunhuang, the
    views of Edo, the market for Impressionist painting, the looting of
    assets by Napoleon, the movement of craftsmen over the medieval
    pilgrimage road, or the current proliferation of art expos globally,
    art history is peppered with spaces, both real and imagined. As such,
    spatial questions are central to many art historical problems, and
    visualizing spatial questions of different physical and temporal scales
    is an intellectual and technical problem amenable to the digital
    environment. Building the capacity to think spatially in geographic
    terms will carry an art historian a long way towards developing
    sophisticated questions and answers by exploiting the digital

    At the end of the two-week period, Fellows will have a grounding in the
    intellectual and historiographic issues central to digital humanities,
    basic understanding of the conceptual nature of data and the use of a
    database, an exposure to important examples of digital art history in
    the field, and a more in-depth study of one particular digital approach
    (GIS and the visualization of space). Graduating Fellows will have the
    vocabulary and intellectual foundation to participate in on-going
    digital humanities debates or other specialized digital humanities
    workshops while also gaining important practical and conceptual
    knowledge in mapping that they can begin to apply to as scholars and

    Given this focus, our Institute will be ideal for those art historians
    who already have identified a spatial problem in their work. Note,
    though, that no prior knowledge or experience in digital humanities
    will be necessary or assumed for the application process. Naturally,
    general  awareness of the scholarly potential of the digital
    environment or mapping will be a plus. All geographies, time periods,
    and subareas of art history will be considered.

    For questions, please contact at any time the co-directors
    Paul B. Jaskot,; Anne Kelly Knowles,

    • Itinera
    • Mobility/Exchange

    The Lessons of Nicholas Revett

    When I set off researching Nicholas Revett, I started with the biological information, which turned out to be fairly easy.  Despite the fact that the site I was using did not have a death location, everything else was easily attainable and accessible.  However, once I started working on the tour stops, it began to be much clearer to me how complex this data is.  In regards to Revett, there is a lot of uncertainty, which I didn't think twice about at first.  In fact, I kind of expected it.  Older records aren't that great so it did not come to a surprise for me that Revett's birth date was not certain.  However, I was surprised that he had two different birth years 1720 or 1721, and between the two sources I was looking at, it appeared to me that each source thought their respective date was the only date.  This obstacle, though it seemed big at the time, was very small in the big picture of mapping Revett's travels.

    Revett's travels left a lot of uncertainty.  We know when he left England, but we have no idea when he arrived in Livorno.  We know he was in Rome by 1745, but we do not know when he actually arrived.  We know he travelled to Pola for three months somewhere in between June of 1750 and January of 1751, but we do not know which three months.  This took a lot of time to write down and to analzye.

    As a science major, a lot of my friends are involved in scientific research.  When they are doing research or for example, when I am in lab, if a run of an experiment results in uncertain results, another run is performed to determine what happened.  However, the Grand Tour is history, and we cannot just run another trial.  There is no way to redo or rerecord history some 300 years later. We cannot change what was recorded, and we can only work with what the sources have to offer.  This uncertainty that humanities researchers have no way around makes humanities research insanely interesting and complex. 

    • Itinera
    • Undergraduate Work
    • VMW

    Today I was Sherlock

         I thought that the activity we did today was the most fun so far of what we've done here at the Lab. Taking information and figuring how the information fits together like a puzzle piece is so very fascinating. You can't just take the information given to you and write it out. You have to think about it, and understand it first, because historical data is not always one hundred percent sure. People are not infallible and so their reports will not be perfect. Some of the data from separate data bases could be conflicted based on a different interpretation of primary sources. If they are you have to be able to decipher the information and figure out the most accurate data. Unless you have a primary source specifying the exact date, you are most likely going to have to make conjectures about its validity. So today, I got to be Sherlock. I got to make those conjectures about data, and figure out not just the broader picture of the puzzle, but how to put them together in a way that made sense to me, the computer, and other people who will look at the data. 

         It was actually sooooo much fun! I reallly enjoyed it. The time flew, and I am hoping to be able to do this more often. It was very interesting and challenging. It was kind of like playing history sudoku.

    • Itinera
    • Undergraduate Work
    • VMW


    Last Friday we learned about Metadata. If you googled metadata you would find that metadata is data about data. But that's the very simplified, almost incorrect definition. Metadata is the data on how we choose to categorize the data that we collect. That includes where the data comes from, how the data was collected, who the data was collected from, what kind of data it is (primary source or secondary source etc) and how we classify them based on all these factors. 

    • Itinera
    • Undergraduate Work
    • VMW


    On Friday we learned about metadata, a topic I had never heard of previously, but was nonetheless interesting.  I never really thought about what happened when I searched something on Google, or why websites were always asking me to complete random surveys, but now I understand that they fall under the category of collecting data.  Metadata, I learned, is not only a large part of research and academia, but it is also very relevant to everyday life.

    Creating or recording metadata, I am not sure what the correct term is, seemed simple at first.  My categories of analysis for paintings and buildings were in the ball park.  For example, for the Cathedral, I had the category of builder, which is part of a larger offical section called agent.  Regardless, I was still able to pinpoint what topics metadata attempts to capture.  

    However, when it came to trying to define metadata for a person, I struggled.  I think my major issue was that I was trying to come up with categories that a picture would be tagged under if someone was searching for a name attached to a picture.  Essentially, I was doing it as if the searcher had a picture of a person and was searching for their name.  Assigning metadata to an actual physical person, not just a picture of a person, did not even come across my mind.  My topics like gender, appearance, hair color, and eye color, are completely different than what is offically used to assign metadata to a person.  I had never thought of categorizing a person in that way, but I guess it makes sense.  

    Overall, learning about metadata taught me a lot about how things are organized, and the structure behind that.  It also showed me that metadata is a wide cateogory that can be applied to unexpected things, like people. 


    • Itinera
    • Undergraduate Work
    • VMW