Mapping the Republic of Letters

The Mapping the Republic of Letters project showcases the scholarly networks of the Early Modern era.

Before email, faculty meetings, international colloquia, and professional associations, the world of scholarship relied on its own networks: networks of correspondence that stretched across countries and continents; the social networks created by scientific academies; and the physical networks brought about by travel. These networks were the lifelines of learning, from the age of Erasmus to the age of Franklin. They facilitated the dissemination&emdash;and the criticism&emdash;of ideas, the spread of political news, as well as the circulation of people and objects.

But what did these networks actually look like? Were they as extensive as we are led to believe? How did they evolve over time? Mapping the Republic of Letters, in collaboration with international partners, seeks to answer these and other questions through the development of sophisticated, interactive visualization tools. It also aims to create a repository for metadata on early-modern scholarship, and guidelines for future data capture.

This foundational digital humanities project, featured in the New York Times in 2011, is currently undergoing a digital preservation and archiving effort, while also revamping its web presence and online presentation and publication style, and preparing to host and/or connect with offshoot projects that have developed since 2016.

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Mapping the Republic of Letters is a project of Humanities + Design.