This exploratory project is intended to put a historian in the footsteps of medieval travelers on the old trade routes and pilgrim paths that converged on the Mediterranean. This is not, however, meant to be a historical study. While the writings of medieval travelers are the starting point for this project, they are not the primary source for the research. Rather, the overland routes themselves and the people who still travel them today will inform the project. In terms of the "newness" of the direction, the goal is to develop a form of travel writing that begins with the models of such medieval authors as Marco Polo, John Mandeville, and Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Wazzan, but shifts the focus to the stories shared by resolute overland travelers in the twenty-first century. Through experimental writings and photographic essays, a medieval historian will seek to give narrative form to the cultural exchanges encountered by overland travelers today.
With the exploratory grant I will visit the headquarters of the society that protects the pilgrims' route to Santiago di Compostella and interview a traveler who has walked the route from Paris to Santiago. I hope to walk the first day or two of that route. Then I will sample pilgrim routes from Northern Italy to Rome. Finally, in Rome I will visit some of the destinations where pilgrims still converge.
The budget is intended to cover accommodations in Paris, Siena and Rome. Any remaining funds would be used to purchase maps from the Societe de Saint-Jacques. If the exploratory project is successful, I will seek a full NDI grant as well as Luce Funds from my home institution for the future project.