mappamundi gmap    

Susan Noakes is Professor of French and Italian, former editor of Medieval Encounters and former Director of Medieval Studies at the University of Minnesota. She has written widely on the history and theory of interpretation, including the history of books, the development of humanist teaching, and the relation of interpretation and ideology.  She teaches and writes about the transformations of literary ideas and form in the period 1250-1550, and is the author of Timely Reading: Between Exegesis and Interpretation (Cornell University Press, 1988).

Geraldine Heng is Director of Medieval Studies, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, and Perceval Fellow at the University of Texas. Her work focuses on webs of exchange and negotiation between communities and cultures, particularly when transacted through issues of gender, race, sexuality, and religion. She is the author of Empire of Magic: Medieval Romance and the Politics of Cultural Fantasy (Columbia University Press, 2003, 533 pp), which traces the genealogy of European romance in Europe's encounters with the East and crusading history.

Lynn Ramey is associate professor of French and chair of the department of French and Italian at Vanderbilt University. Her work explores verbal representations of moments of cultural contact, particularly the Crusades and travel to the New World. Her focus has shifted lately to include an examination of the modern preoccupation with and uses of the middles ages in film. She is the author of Christian, Saracen and Genre in Medieval French Literature (Routledge 2001).
Ana Boa-Ventura is a digital media researcher with a focus on crosscultural design of the user experience, and social media. She holds a master's degree in Sciences of Education from the Universities of Mons (Belgium), Valenciennes (France) and Aveiro (Portugal). She is currently a doctoral candidate at the College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin, after having done an Advanced Studies program at MIT. You can find out more about her here.
Kevin Franklin is Executive Director of the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science, and Senior Research Scientist for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois. He was formerly Executive Director of the University of California Humanities Research Institute, and Deputy Director of the University of California San Diego Supercomputer Center. He leads a number of international research activities, including the Advanced Research and Technology Collaborative for the Americas which he founded in 2007.
Jay Boisseau is Director of the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas, and former Associate Director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center.  A scientist specializing in astronomy and physics, he led several major projects at the SDSC, creating their Scientific Computing Department, and founding the IBM Scientific Computing User Group. Today, he serves on the Executive Steering Committee of TeraGrid and leads the University of Texas' involvement in the High Performance Computing Across Texas consortium.


MappaMundi is...

a multi-dimensional cybernetic initiative for the study of a global middle ages.

mappamundi is a digital and web entity. in its fully mature form, mappamundi will take an avatar—a 21st century ibn battuta or marco polo—for a walk around the world on a medieval world map. 


stopping at a global city like istanbul-constantinople, rome, hangchow, or timbuktu, the traveler can view architecture and city layout, listen to local music, watch the performance of drama or shadow puppetry, read manuscripts and literary texts, examine coins and fabrics, look at artwork, study how technology and scientific instruments work through virtual simulations and demonstration models, and watch videos of 21st century state-of-the-art classroom teaching of a global middle ages.

at present, numerous websites and digital projects offer information on countries and cultures in scattered contexts. the international dunhuang project is creating a walk-through virtual museum of paintings, sculpture, carvings and manuscripts from a magnificent oasis-city on the silk road, dun huang.

the timbuktu project is a portal to a million manuscripts in west africa, from the 12th to 18th centuries, scattered around people's homes and libraries, that together contain the untold history of africa's relations to the world across deep time.

scores of digitizing projects in north america and europe have been placing collections of european medieval manuscripts, music, and artwork online.

aims to gather and coordinate the best of these scattered online/digital projects, to see how they might together weave networks of human stories and culture, follow the lives of cities, and narrate civilizational encounters in a global web across time.

is being built in stages and pieces in partnership with supercomputing centers.

 Photo album from 2007

GMAP workshop

Play Arun Saldanha, Susan Noakes, Geraldine Heng

Play Ray Kea leading a small-group discussion

Play Kevin Franklin, Roger Hart, Xinru Li

Play Susan Noakes, Roger Hart, Denise Spellberg, Gabriela Ilnitchi


the 'discoveries' of america project 

the 'discoveries' of america project, designed by Lynn Ramey, showcases the navigational techniques, maps, scientific instruments, and state of knowledge that formed the background to christopher columbus' journey in 1492. 

visualized as a working model for mappamundi, the america project depicts varieties of geographic imagination around the premodern world—in islamic civilization, china, and scandinavian europe—as medieval societies imagined, or traveled to america before columbus.

one focus is how maps flow and circulate within networks of cultural exchange, raising questions of timelines and knowledge. 

this working model transforms themes articulated by fuat sezgin—the renowned historian of islamic science—in his "pre-columbian discovery of the american continent by muslim seafarers" into an interactive platform for collaborative knowledge-creation.

the global middle ages public media project 


our public media project, conceptualized by ana boa-ventura, proposes to take advantage of public media already available to support the study of a global middle ages.

all over the world, individuals are grouping digital content in ways that are efficient and meaningful for them at the personal level.  as every university teacher knows, students often farm these online materials for research support.  a plethora of public digital material on medieval subjects exists, configuring a multitude of medieval worlds.

using high-performance-computing tools at the texas advanced computing center to access folksonomies in blogs, wikis, image and video sharing sites such as FlickR and YouTube, and other media, this project takes advantage of the rich crowdsourcing available today.

the project will identify, aggregate, index, and analyze public media for building mappamundi and teaching, studying, and researching a global middle ages.