The students in Robert Policelli’s Spring 2013 World Travelers Before 1500 course put together annotated Google maps in the hopes that they would prove useful internet research aides for others. They read the major primary sources for each traveler and then read selective secondary source readings. After completing their readings, the students decided what locations were most important–and why. Then they explained their decisions in the map annotations. So, rather than comprehensive overviews, these maps are interpretive surveys reflective of the students’ readings of the source materials. They will be most useful to researchers with some background on each traveler. The maps cover some well-known pre-modern travelers such as Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus and also some lesser known ones, including Rabban Bar Sauma and John of Plano Carpini.
This Spring 2013 course began by studying foundational concepts of history, memory, and space. The figure of the palimpsest—a text whose multiple layers of writing are legible, despite efforts to erase past inscriptions—was a guiding trope as we progressed through the term, exploring notions of official and unofficial memory, power and violence, the urban flâneur, universalism, and foreignness in the Parisian context. Each topic allowed us to examine in detail a specific event or movement in French history (the Algerian War, 19th-century Hausmannization, the French Revolution, 17th-century Absolutism, Renaissance Humanism, and 20th- and 21st-century tourism), as well as specific sites of central importance to the cultural text of Paris (the Eiffel Tower, Père Lachaise cemetery, Montmartre, the Louvre, the Bastille, the Latin Quarter, etc.). Throughout the term, the course invited students to think about how their own practices—of walking, consuming, reading, and writing about the city—participate in the Parisian “text.” The project for this course, Paris 2013, includes mapping and timeline functionalities. This course was co-taught by Professor Sarah Horowitz of the Department of History and Professor Katie Chenoweth of the Department of Romance Languages.