Monique  OConnell

  • Title / Position: Associate Professor
  • Organization: Wake Forest University

I trained as a medieval/early modern historian with a focus on Renaissance Venice, and I teach medieval/early modern history at Wake Forest. One thread of my research interests lies with political history- I've written a book on the administration of Venice's overseas empire, and I'm currently working on a project about how Venetian ideologies of empire intersect with Renaissance republicanism. Another thread of research interest for me is social mobility in Venice and, to a lesser extent, in Florence and Genoa. It is this latter interest that brings me to the digital humanities, as one of the neat things about Renaissance Venice and Florence are their rich medieval archives. I've worked with putting this archival data on individuals into databases for Venice, a project that underpinned the research for my book as well as turning into the Rulers of Venice online database. Over time, I've become more and more interested in the possibilities of technology not only to facilitate my own research, but to put fairly difficult to interpret data into a more public realm. To be specific, as a graduate student I had to learn Italian, Latin, and French and live in Venice for 3 years to get a grasp on the archival data that now, people can increasingly access remotely and with handy English explanations attached. I'm curious about what that shift does to the field of Renaissance history in general, and I'm also interested in the pedagogical implications. Many of my Americanist colleagues send their students off to do primary source research in newspaper archives or diplomatic documents, but until recently I always assumed the language barrier precluded that possibility for my own field. I don't have a great deal of experience with the nuts and bolts technological aspects of things- I don't have a website, I don't tweet, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I have no idea who Nicholas Carr or Slavoj Žižek are or what game Galaga might be. I will confess to a soft spot for Nicola Tesla as a disruptive technological innovator and to at least 400 hours logged playing Civilization.

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