Department of English

Professor Geraldine Heng's GMAP Shares A $250,000 NEH Grant

Tue, October 28, 2008

The Global Middle Ages Project (GMAP), an initiative co-directed by Professor Geraldine Heng at the University of Texas and Professor Susan Noakes at the University of Minnesota, is one of three humanities groups that share a new $250,000 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities grant.  GMAP (pronounced “G-MAP”), a collaboration of scholars, centers, and institutes for the study of the world, 500-1500 c.e., had its beginnings in an experimental seminar taught at the University of Texas in 2004, when seven faculty collaborated to introduce to graduate students an interconnected world spanning 1,000 years (see Medieval Studies website: Of the sixteen students in the seminar, five were from English. English encouraged and supported the initiative, and continues a strong supporter of innovative pedagogy today.

The new 2008 NEH grant is the successful outcome of a multi-institutional effort spearheaded by the Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (iCHASS) in Illinois.  The grant provides seed funding to study how high-performance computing (“supercomputing”)—which has thus far mainly served the sciences and engineering—can meet the needs of complex, multi-level humanities projects. The funds are for needs analysis, mini-residencies, and first-step collaborations involving three supercomputing centers, to see how GMAP can create a cybernetic learning community called Mappamundi (“map of the world”)—intended as an online classroom, virtual museum, archive, knowledge-creation community, and dynamic tour across the world over a timeline of 1,000 years.  Mappamundi is one of a number of digital humanities projects undertaken by English department faculty and graduate students.

Websites for GMAP, Mappamundi, and the Scholarly Community for the Globalization of the Middle Ages (SCGMA), hosted by COLA, can be found here:  For a report on the original teaching experiment and the new multi-university initiatives it generated, see “An Experiment in Collaborative Humanities.” [download]

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