I am a digital historian with a focus on analyzing, visualizing, and questioning data in historical and humanistic inquiry. Methodologically, I am particularly interested in mapping, data visualization, and distant reading. Thematically, my work focuses on the history of mobility, legal history, and environmental history.
My first book, Borders and Freedom of Movement in the Holy Roman Empire (Oxford University Press, 2020), is a history of free movement in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, one of the most politically fractured landscapes in European history. Across the Empire, mobile populations—from emperors to peasants—defied attempts to channel their mobility with actions ranging from mockery to bloodshed. My book charts this contentious ordering of movement through the lens of safe conduct, an institution that was common throughout the early modern world but became a key framework for negotiating freedom of movement and its restriction in the Old Reich.
I am interested in how scholars use digital data and methods to craft novel, meaningful, and ambitious arguments that contribute to broader conversations within history, the humanities, and the social sciences. Within the digital humanities, my primary expertise lies in spatial history. At Stanford, I led the digital mapping project “New Maps for the Old Regime” within the Spatial History Project, using GIS to create new maps of old-regime Europe. Several of these maps have been published in my first book, in a recent study on the use of polygons in spatial history, and a forthcoming study on the visual representation of geopolitical complexity. More recently, I have developed interests in verticality as well as critical and imaginative approaches to data visualization. In my largest current project, I explore how geospatial technology allows us to engage meaningfully with depth and volume and combine atmospheric data with archival evidence in an effort to expand the graphical repertoire of environmental history.
Another strand of my research concerns the application of digital distant reading approaches to conceptual and intellectual history. I currently study thematic and methodological trends in several tens of thousands of dissertations defended at early modern German universities. A first article on legal dissertations of the seventeenth century has now been published and a second which employs a novel visualization approach is forthcoming. I am also contributing to developing a large-scale computational study of the language of early capitalism. Together with colleagues at Stanford and other institutions, I also won a substantial grant for a collaborative digital history project on mobility in the early modern world. Moreover, 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.
I have designed and taught numerous lecture and seminar classes for undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students at Manchester, Stanford, Berlin, and Florence, on a range of topics in history, the digital humanities, and data visualization. I also acted as co-director of Stanford’s Digital Humanities Graduate Fellowship Program and currently direct the Digital Humanities program at Manchester.
I am a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Digital Humanities at the University of Manchester. I earned a PhD in History at the European University Institute in Florence, an MA in History at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris and the University of Heidelberg, as well as a BA in Economics at the latter university. Before moving to England, I held a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Stanford University from 2016 to 2019. I have also taught at the Free University of Berlin and have been a visiting scholar at the University of Saint Andrews and at Columbia University.