Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Bay of Naples, 1560s, Rome, Galleria Doria Pamphilij

Department Michalsky

Cities and Spaces in Premodernity

This research revolves around questions concerning historical concepts of space and their transformation in Premodernity. One geographical area of special interest in this context is Southern Italy, specifically Naples and the Mediterranean region.

  • How were urban spaces structured?
  • What was the role of diachronic neighbourhoods in their formation?
  • How did political, religious and social functions shape urban spaces?
  • How can a constantly changing space be described at all in images, texts and maps?
  • How are social spaces constructed in films?

Answers to these questions can be found in classic case studies on churches, palaces and their décor in an urban context. These are followed up with studies on the stratification of symbolic sites and on artistic engagement with history. The text-critical annotation of historical maps of cities and countries and the digital reconstruction of liturgical spaces – both techniques are used in this research – are new methodological tools in this field.

Research Projects

Naples is the largest metropolis in southern Italy, a place where the ancient coexists with the medieval and modern creating a palimpsest that eludes, more so than elsewhere, the logic of stratification. The city is the focus of research and activities by the Bibliotheca Hertziana intended to explore the city's complexity, call into question standard historical approaches and re-format scholarly discourses. more
Mapping Sacred Spaces
By investigating, within a broader European and Mediterranean context how forms and concepts of sacred space were created in medieval South Italy, the project aims to enrich the knowledge of pre-modern societies while experimenting with a range of new epistemological tools shared among the humanities and digital technologies. more
Editing Naples
In the Editing Naples project, historical maps and views of Naples are digitized and digitally annotated with information from respective legends. The topographical information in the printed legend can be called up directly by touching the object with the cursor. more
Historical Spaces in Flavio Biondo's Italia illustrata
Texts and maps don't just describe or illustrate places – they create them. With a mid-fifteenth-century text, Flavio Biondo's Italia illustrata, as its focus, this project is an investigation into the spaces a literary account of Italy conceptualises by creating a specific syntax that conflates topographical and historical facts dating back to antiquity. more
Conques in the Global World. Transferring Knowledge: From Material to Immaterial Heritage
Conques is a unique site of cultural heritage, preserving outstanding visual, material, and ritual cultures from the 9th to the 21st century. The aim of this interdisciplinary project funded by the European Union, in which the Bibliotheca Hertziana is participating, is to make this wealth accessible in its entire geographical and temporal scope. more
Images of Europe Beyond Europe
Against the backdrop of global exchanges in so many areas, this project explores external images of Europe – the multifarious images produced outside of Europe that existed in the past and still exist today. more
Social Reality in Italian Films
Films can (re)construct social spaces with great accuracy. Particularly in Italian films – from postwar neorealism to later auteur cinema – artistic strategies were developed for the purpose of analyzing the way that certain social constellations are tied to a city or region. more
Summer Residences and Retreats of the Rulers around Mount Vulture
The architectural dimension of residence formation in High Middle Ages and the historico-cultural and geographical links it reveals have not been fully investigated. For Southern Italy there are in-depth studies only on the Norman and late Hohenstaufen residence areas around Palermo and Foggia. more
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