Spatial Humanities Public Lecture: "Paris Past and Present: Insights from New Technology in the Humanities" by Meredith Cohen

Thursday, February 1, 2018

“Nothing compares to Paris,” enthused Jean de Jandun in his 1323 encomium to the city. While a few extant buildings give us a limited understanding of this once great medieval city, today it is nevertheless difficult to imagine the many magnificent monuments, great castles, and animated streets that drove this author to extol its unparalleled virtues in his Tractatus de Laudibus Parisius. A much richer impression of this urban center is, however, available in the many repositories of lithic, graphic, and written data remaining in Paris. Yet assembling these multimedia fragments into a coherent whole is a task too vast and complex for traditional humanistic practice. My current collaborative, web‑based research project, entitled Paris Past and Present, addresses this problem and aims to revive the medieval city in 4D by resurrecting its lost monuments through digital reconstruction and augmented reality. Working within this rapidly expanding field, my team and I have developed new methodological strategies whose early results have been numerous and unexpected, informing us that the process of this research is at least as valuable as the possibilities offered by the end product. Some of these insights will be detailed as they relate to a case study of the Lady Chapel of Saint-Germain des Prés in an effort to demonstrate how new technology can further discourse in the Humanities in ways not previously thought possible.