… is now available online. Meets next April in Montgomery, Alabama.
Of note for EMEMHians, I counted two medieval panels (I consider them honorary members of EMEMH, but perhaps it should be reversed), a couple of papers on the American Revolution, three panels on the Age of Revolutions with emphasis on the Napoleonic (‘natch), and a couple of panels on publishing military history.
Personally, I’ll be teaching and preparing for a research jaunt in the summer, but any attendees are welcome to share their thoughts post-conference.
New article in Social Science Computer Review using GIS to analyze the 1714 siege of Barcelona.
I also have the number of daily workers, so a casualty rate over the length of the siege could easily be calculated.
And, finally, a colorful map that emphasizes the importance of musketry for the defense:
Now I remember why it took me so long to finish my dissertation – because I wrote 1.5 of them instead of just one.
As academics on a semester system know, Thanksgiving break offers the false hope of a brief interlude before the final dash to the end of the semester. Thus I surfaced for air long enough to waste some time playing around with a few new-ish digital toys that might be of interest to others.
First, for those who use Pocket Informant’s calendar/task-management program, their recent update includes a macro-view (all the cool kids are doing Big Data these days) of your schedule, a heat map indicating how busy your days are over months. As you can tell from the screenshot, I follow the stereotypical academic’s schedule of attempting to keep my summers for my research.
More productively, I decided to waste some more time on mind mapping software. Devonthink is great for storing all my documents and notes, but I still find the need for meta-notes (or organizational cues, or trains of thought) that are extremely hierarchical, and which have to come in a very specific order even if I don’t know where exactly they should go in the overall argument – often these are a series of successive questions that I need to follow up on. You could put them in a group in DT, but that tends to lose the specific train of thought. So instead of pulling out my big sketchpad and writing out a mindmap of my battle book, as I did with my diss, I got a copy of Xmind software. This way I can have my mindmaps everywhere I am, and I can move things from one node to another without having to erase and rewrite. The resulting map for a smaller project (my honor in sieges book chapter) looks like this:
The map is fully searchable, you can add various ‘markers’ and icons, modify the formatting of each point, add images, create floating points (when you’re not yet sure where exactly they should go), and it automatically makes an outline that you can export (upper right in screenshot). I find it useful to see the big picture on a single page (scrolling and zooming in and out as necessary), and to quickly see the ‘shape’ of the argument and the relative amount of detail in each section, rather than flip between a dozen pages of outline and try to imagine how a subpoint would fit in a different spot.
Finally, my frequent reliance on timelines in my courses led me to take the plunge and explore timeline software. My über-efficient timecharts have their uses, but I don’t want to put that amount of effort into all sorts of chronologies in the dozen different courses I teach. Sorry, but the 20th century isn’t worth that much effort. And for my own research purposes, the more info in a given timeline, the greater the need to have the info quickly searchable.
Enter Aeon Timeline. Items are generally divided between Entities (people, institutions, technologies…) and time-defined Events. You can use different levels of precision for different Events, and you can place Events on various arcs, e.g. an operational timeline might include separate arcs for each theater of operations. Befitting the digital data, all entries and metadata are searchable, and the timelines are zoomable in both directions. You can add notes to each Entity and Event, and there are a few limited formatting options (with possibly more to come in future versions). So in the operational arcs I indicate the Allied sieges with a red font and the Bourbon sieges with a blue font; in the English politics arcs I use buff to indicate the Whigs and blue to indicate the Tories. You can import images, for example peoples’ portraits or even simplified maps of battles and sieges. You can also filter your results to show only a subset of the events and entities, based off of the metadata. You can also import in massive quantities of data in csv or tab-delimited, rather than use the individual event creation dialog box.
Further, you can define a Relationship between each Entity and each Event – e.g. an Entity might have one Event that was its birth, another its death, while another Event of that Entity (say, a person) might be that individual’s participation in a particular siege. This view is a bit messy in the Event (top) half of the window – you should primarily just look at the bottom half, in the Relationship view, which allows you to see all the events that each entity was involved with – and even how old the given Entity was, if you want. The developer promises to make this view more intuitive in future versions. And, if I were ever to make my own WordPress blog site (i.e. not use wordpress.com), I could export the timelines in simile format and post interactive versions online.
So that’s how I spent my Thanksgiving week, when not eating turkey, that is.
New article on the psyche of mid/late-18C soldiers:
Recent issue of the journal Small Wars & Insurgencies includes two articles on early modern partisan sniping, as well as several more on the Revolutionary and Napoleonic period.
Abstract: In the late seventeenth century during the Dutch War (1672–1678) and the Nine Years War (1688–1697), French armies relied on small war for the accomplishment of essential tasks and as part of an overall strategy of exhausting their opponents in the Low Countries. The purposes of small war included the imposition of contributions on enemy populations, the destruction of the enemy base of operations, blockades of fortresses, and the general support of campaign armies. The expression ‘small war’ in the French language appeared with growing frequency in the 1690s. Small war can be viewed as both a cause and consequence of the characteristics of these wars. The limited policy goals of Louis XIV the king of France required a strategy that minimised risk and accomplished the goal of reducing if not eliminating the Spanish presence in the Low Countries that bordered the north of France. As French armies increased in size during this period, the demand for specialists at small increased in order to provide security and ensure supply. Small war in the late seventeenth century was thus not ideologically motivated insurgency, but in the minds of French commanders an essential component of strategy and the nature of war.
A new book has been published on that age-old question of whether Italians were lovers or fighters.