Categories
Academia

In Praise of Ephemeral Astrological Literature

The Economist recently printed an interesting article comparing today’s social media and the Arab Spring to the success of the Lutheran Reformation (Note, there is an interesting symmetry in their article: social media seems to be one the winning side in both cases, or at least the laudable side. In both cases revolutionaries opposing repressive […]

Categories
Research

Nikephoros Gregoras and Byzantine Science

In March I am talking on the Byzantine polymath Nikephoros Gregoras and his efforts to establish his scientific authority. In “Empiricism, Prediction, and Instruments: The Creation of Expertise in 14th-Century Constantinople” I will examine the ways that Gregoras tried to distinguish his own expertise by grounding it in precise, empirical predictions and his command of […]

Categories
Teaching

Some Final Thoughts on Maps

After thinking about and studying their maps for the entire semester, students produced some really interesting “Biography of a Map” projects. What started as a short assignment intended to introduce students to the advantages and limits of scientific claims, see “Biography of a Map—Further Experiments in Pedagogy,” quickly grew into a term-long research project. Their […]

Categories
Academia

Blogs as Intellectual Conversation

Blogs continue to occupy an increasingly important place in intellectual and academic life. One of the many roles blogs play is in creating extended conversations, allowing scholars affiliated with institutions as well as independent scholars to enter into meaningful discourse. Unlike the face-to-face conversations that occur at academic conferences, which are both fleeting and costly, […]

Categories
Teaching

Mapping Our Way Forward

Having read the “Biography of a Map” papers, I now see where the project worked, where it approached my goals set out in the first post, “Biography of a Map—Further Experiments in Pedagogy,” and where it didn’t quite reach those goals. Some of the work has been really good—previously I pointed to student efforts to […]

Categories
Exhibitions

“You are Here”—A Special Exhibition on Maps

Haverford College’s Special Collections is about to open a new exhibition titled “You Are Here: Exploring the Contours of Our Academic Community Through Maps” (more information is here). I was asked to write a caption for James C. Prichard’s ethnographic maps that accompanied his Natural History of Man (1843). Here is the draft of my […]

Categories
Teaching

Marketing a Colony—William Penn’s Maps of Pennsylvania

For the “Biography of a Map” assignment a number of students selected various maps of Pennsylvania. Happily, at least for my pedagogical experiment, they all strove to understand how these maps functioned for William Penn and Thomas Holme, Penn’s surveyor and cartographer. Students placed the maps into the context of Penn’s religious, political, and economic […]

Categories
Teaching

Biography of a Map—Further Experiments in Pedagogy

Last fall while teaching a course on the history of the scientific revolution I chronicled my efforts to teach students to be curious. I tried modeling curiosity, showing them how to formulate questions, and explaining good questions (at some point in the near future I will polish off the posts that conclude that particular experiment […]