Mapping Gothic France

Mapping Gothic Francewas a five-year web-based project undertaken with Stephen Murray at Columbia University. The project was funded through the generosity of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and developed within the framework of collaboration between theDepartment of Artat Vassar College, theMedia Center for Art Historyin the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University and the Columbia University Libraries.

Whereas pictures can be satisfactorily represented in two dimensions in a book or on a computer screen, space—especially Gothic space—demands a different approach, one which embraces not only the architectonic volume but also time and narrative. Mapping Gothic France builds upon a theoretical framework derived from the work of Henri Lefbvre (The Production of Space) that seeks to establish linkages between the architectural space of individual buildings, geo-political space, and the social space resulting from the interaction (collaboration and conflict) between multiple agents—builders and users.

Our intention has been not just to develop a more appropriate way of representing the spaciousness of individual monuments, but to provide the user of the site with new ways to understand the relationship of hundreds of buildings conventionally described as “Gothic”—in terms of sameness and difference, found in the forms of multiple buildings within a defined period of time and space that corresponds to the advent of the nation of France.