The Atmosphere in Spatial History

I am currently preparing a monograph on one of the most extensive projects of atmospheric intervention in European history, combining archival and digital evidence in an effort to develop the study of weather and climate in spatial history. A first article on the subject is forthcoming in Past & Present.

A map produced by a consortium of Italian storm artillerists showing the arrangement of their cannons, juxtaposed with modern-day satellite imagery. To tilt the map, hold down both buttons.

Distant Reading of Dissertations

I am interested in how digital distant reading approaches can support conceptual and intellectual history. Recently, I studied thematic and methodological trends in several tens of thousands of dissertations defended at early modern German universities. A first article offers an overview over legal dissertations of the seventeenth century and another employs a novel visualisation approach to retrace the role of different age cohorts. I am also contributing to developing a large-scale computational study of the language of early capitalism.


More than half of the dissertations catalogued in VD17 were published at only a handful of Protestant universities.
The gradually increasing use of the German vernacular in the dissertation’s titles in the 1660s was driven mostly by scholars in their thirties and forties while older scholars were more reluctant to compromise the linguistic uniformity of this almost entirely Latin genre.

New Maps for the Old Regime

At Stanford, I led the digital mapping project “New Maps for the Old Regime” within the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis, using GIS to create new maps of old-regime Europe. Several of these maps have been published in my first book, in an article on the use of polygons in spatial history, and in a forthcoming study on the visual representation of shared dominion.


Number of foreign subjects enserfed by the Electors Palatine in 1665. The map shows that the spatial extent of the Palatine incursions in the neighboring territories were much more limited than previously assumed (the light grey area).
The elevation profile of the region shows that most of the serfs lived in the Rhine Rift Valley and in Rhenish Hesse, areas with fertile soils and a warm climate. The villages in these areas were easily accessible and more densely populated, offering a larger tax base.

New Work in Digital Humanities

I initiated and co-host a podcast series, New Work in Digital Humanities, that offers a platform for some of the best recent work in the field.

Early Modern Mobility

Supported with over 150,000 $ from the UPS Endowment Fund and Stanford’s Program in History and Philosophy of Science, this collaborative project investigates the history of postal systems, roads, transportation, and communication infrastructure in early modern Europe. With Paula Findlen (Stanford), Katherine McDonough (London), Leo Barleta (Stanford), Rachel Midura (Stanford), Suzanne Sutherland (Murfreesboro), and Iva Lelková (Prague).