Sabbatical II: The Year of the Digital

Sabbatical. What academics look forward to for years – the ability to take time off from teaching and service to recharge and focus on me-time. On my last sabbatical seven years ago, I attended a few conferences, wrote a few papers, scanned in a ton of book chapters/journal articles, and even started a blog.

And now it’s back. This time around, it means further expanding my digital history toolkit, and reading and writing.

So once I get those final grades in (due Wednesday), I’ll be free! Free to travel to Spain for two weeks, where we’ll take in the sights of Madrid and Barcelona, which might even include a visit to the Sant Ferran citadel (c. 1750s), just outside of Figueres in Catalonia. In case we want to see what a real hornwork (or two) looks like. We’ve already seen the French side of the contested Pyrenean border (Perpignan and the little yellow train up to Mont-Louis), so now we’ll get to see it from the Spanish side.

Screenshot 2018-05-13 12.24.43

Sant Ferran castell from the Google Maps satellite web tile service in QGIS

After that, I’ll be free to finish the long-awaited big book of Marlborough’s battles. And to refresh my rudimentary Python skills, learn R, and expand my knowledge of GIS. The latter tasks will allow me to embark on my next journey, a GIS-informed analysis of military operations during the War of the Spanish Succession and beyond. In the process, I’ll be developing my early modern European military history database, and try to get you faithful skulkers to crowdsource some basic data on these EME wars.

Hopefully that’s not too ambitious for a year-long sabbatical, but I’ve earned it.


3 responses to “Sabbatical II: The Year of the Digital”

  1. Andrew Tumath says :

    As long as the results are made available for public consumption, you can count me in for some EMEMH database populating.

    • jostwald says :

      Great. And yes, definitely for public consumption. My model is the Correlates of War project, though hopefully a bit more database-y, and GIS friendly.
      Ideally I’ll set up a GitHub account, so I can also post up some Devonthink Applescripts and Python code, once I get that far.

  2. mikhailkoshkin says :

    I am envious of you tramping round the Pyrennes – I have a great fondness for Mont Louis and would like to visit again one day.

    Sounds like an interesting project and I an looking forward to seeing your database setup and how it all connects together. Still keen on assembling data on the tempo of operations for the EMEMH and anything else that might be of use and of course anything siege related.

    How about a theme tune to encourage us along, in which case I would suggest Rameau “Rondeau des Indes Galantes” (

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