“Greek Myth, Mapped” Workshop at the CHS in Washington DC

Guest post by R. Scott Smith

Our workshop is called “Greek Myth, Mapped,” and its main goal is to think through the process of collecting and organizing data from the world of Greek (and Roman) mythology. This data would then be mounted in a powerful digital database and platform that will allow both scholars and interested non-specialists to investigate the ancient mythical traditions from a number of perspectives: genealogical, spatial, motifs, etc.. Many challenges to such a database remain: disambiguation of mythical names, how to deal with a mythical (instead of a real) landscape, challenges in identifying ancient places, and so on. Currently, we have a large grant application in with the Australian Research Council. The title of that is Mapping Ancient Narratives, Territories, Objects, or MANTO for short.

The origin of the project goes back several years at the University of New Hampshire, where I simply wanted to map Greek myth geographically. This got off the ground a bit, but Greta Hawes envisioned a grander and more ambitious idea of creating a massive database of Greek myth. Last August, she convened a preliminary week-long workshop at Australian National University in Canberra for four members of the team that will be at the CHS workshop (starred in the list below):

*Greta Hawes (Australian National University)
*Elizabeth Minchin (Australian National University)
*James O’Maley (Trinity [Melbourne])
*Scott Smith (University of New Hampshire)

Ryan Horne (Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital History at U. of Pittsburgh) will join us at the CHS as a specialist in Digital Humanities, specifically geospatial and social network analysis.

Elton Barker (The Open University), who is a Partner Investigator on the grant, will be joining us via Zoom concerning his digital projects (Hestia and the Pelagios Commons, as will Susanna de Beer (Leiden), who is working on mapping Rome in a digital fashion.

One point of pride for us is our commitment to including the next generation of scholars in this project. We have five undergraduate and graduate students joining us. Many of these students have been instrumental in the initial gathering of data.

The program will run Monday–Friday, July 15–19, and some sample presentations (titles may change) include:

1) Disambiguation of Greek mythical names: Which Lycus are we talking about?
2) Real, mythical, and fuzzy space in Greek myth
3) Longitudinal study of places and place-names: a comparative perspective

Afternoons and evenings will be dedicated to reviewing our data collection models. All in all, a good time to be had by all.

R. Scott Smith

R. Scott Smith is Professor of Classics and Director of the J-Term in Rome of the University of New Hampshire.