This course will explore the character of travel and communication networks, patterns, technologies, and ideas in Europe in the medieval and early modern periods. Students will therefore learn the concept of travel and mobility, whether commercial, cultural, or bureaucratic, and the concept of notable reconfigurations and acceleration of exchange in this period. Beyond ideas, the networks they linked to will be prominent. These include technologies such as the bridge, road, and wayfinding, as well as cybernetic creations like the riding horse (with iron shoes and complex needs); the development of institutions of hospitality, like the monastery, the hostel and the inn; and the adaptation of writing to facilitate motion and communication. Due attention will be paid to exotic travel such as crusading, pilgrimage and warfare; however, routine business travel will be key, such as the trips required by law, by trade, by the search for money, and the desire to see family.
Methodologically, the course will focus on the idea of networks and the techniques of the digital humanities. Thus, text mining for information; mapping in GIS (Geographic Information Systems); and analyzing network relations will be important additions to the usual historical skills of reading and writing essays.