By Maria Alessia Rossi and Alice Isabella Sullivan
One of the challenges of historians of the Middle Ages is to learn what research is being done across Eastern Europe. We have set up a new digital resource to help scholars connect with each other and their projects, and students and the wider public learn about current research.
Mapping Eastern Europe is a new interactive website that makes accessible the history, art, and culture of Eastern Europe between the 13th and 17th centuries. This project stimulates study, teaching, research, and outreach focused on the networked regions of the Balkan Peninsula, the Carpathian Mountains, and further north into Russia. These territories developed at the crossroads of the Latin, Greek, Slavic, and Islamic traditions during the late medieval and early modern periods yet remain marginal and understudied.
Eastern Europe is often discussed within narrow geographical and chronological limits, or treated within nationalistic frameworks, or excluded altogether from conversations. Our aim is to challenge the ways in which the history and artistic production of Eastern Europe is included, excluded, defined, and considered by offering contributions in English written by researchers and intended for both specialist and wider audiences. By looking at the margins of the medieval world – at the culturally rich yet still enigmatic spheres of Eastern Europe – this online project aims to broaden the geographical, temporal, methodological, and theoretical parameters of the study of medieval, Byzantine, post-Byzantine, and early modern art, while contributing to the recent global efforts in Medieval Studies and Art History.
On the Mapping Eastern Europe website, you will find:
- historical overviews that offer concise accounts of key regions of Eastern Europe during the period in question, offering historical details related to political, economic, military, social, and religious matters.
- case studies that focus on the visual and material culture of the regions set against the backdrop of the historical context, and also introduce methodological and theoretical questions that could be pursued further in classes, teaching, and research.
- ongoing projects that allow scholars to disseminate in brief their ideas and work.
- reviews of recent books and exhibitions that enable readers to learn more about current scholarship and exhibitions that may not be easily accessible otherwise.
On the homepage, users who are searching for specific content and details are able to access individual pages and can navigate a map of Eastern Europe, delving into and discovering the variety of sources and materials within the site. Users can even filter the results to focus on a particular region or time period.
Scholars, researchers, teachers, and wider audiences will thus be able to access content and include it in their work and teaching. For example, the individual case studies can offer comparative material for objects and monuments already included in the more traditional curricula, offering perspectives that could enhance or challenge existing interpretations. Teachers could also assign their students projects on the site that could focus on a theme, a medium, a location, etc., or a historiographic issue to which the book reviews page could be beneficial. The short notices about ongoing research projects spotlights interdisciplinary work that could both spark interest and further endeavors, as well as identify the outcomes of these projects and their relevant contacts.
This platform is rooted in our desire to connect students, teachers, and scholars at all levels around the study and appreciation of the history, art, and culture of Eastern Europe, as well as remedy the limited access to libraries, conference networking opportunities, and published research. The initial phases of the project – from July to December 2020 – have been made possible by the “Rapid Response Magic Project of the Princeton University Humanities Council.”
This project builds on the efforts of the North of Byzantium initiative, which probes the history, art, and culture of the northern frontiers of the Byzantine Empire in Eastern Europe between the 13th and 17th centuries.
Maria Alessia Rossi and Alice Isabella Sullivan are the Co-Founders and Editors of Mapping Eastern Europe