Early Modern Patterns: Tracking Cultural Forms in a Digital Age

Elizabeth Honig
Art History
UC Berkeley

Almerindo Ojeda
UC Davis

This research group investigated new, digital and web-based interactive and collaborative approaches to study pattern networks in the Early Modern Atlantic world. The generation, reuse, circulation and dispersal of patterns – visual, musical, and textual – was a particularly widespread phenomenon in this period, which saw the rise of new media, such as printing, but also the refinement of older workshop methods of replication to serve growing markets in cultural goods. Growing out of a single workshop or publishing house, models traveled and became reformed and reinterpreted by very different users over many generations and in new cultural settings. The humanities in particular stand to benefit from web-based and digital study. The group comprised of two established collaborative websites, janbrueghel.org and colonialart.org, which study these questions in the visual arts of Northern Europe and the Spanish New World. Working with them was a group of six scholars at four campuses whose research also involved digital projects in this period raising similar issues of collaborative scholarship and historical patterning. A key goal was not only to help grow a group of innovative websites in this area, but to explore together issues of collaboration and crowdsourcing, fair use of historical materials, long-term financing and maintenance of open-access research websites, and how collaborative web-based work can be evaluated as part of our scholarly activity.