Premodern Digital Ecologies: Special Issue of Digital Philology

deadline for submissions: 
December 1, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Andrew Richmond & Aylin Malcolm (guest editors)
contact email: 

The intersection of the digital and environmental humanities speaks to our current moment: we live in a world in flux, experiencing a changing climate we seek to explain by digital models. As we use new technology to interact with and understand the “natural” world, scholars and activists also use digital platforms to communicate about ecological issues with new and diverse audiences. Medieval studies has long been at the forefront of the digital humanities, while ecocriticism and environmental history have significantly advanced our understanding of how people in the Middle Ages conceived of the nonhuman world. Recently, these threads have come together in adapting modern digital tools for the study of premodern experiences of local and evolving environments, leading to a productive proliferation of energetic and insightful approaches to archival and archaeological materials. Digital investigations of medieval environments in turn invite inquiry into the role that affect plays in shaping contemporary conceptions of premodern places and times.

This special issue highlights the exciting spectrum of critical work in premodern digital ecologies, and examines how modern tools and approaches can help us to model and explore environments from across the medieval world. What changes about our experiences of medieval materials and ecosystems when we interact with them through a digital medium, or as virtual objects? How can digital tools make academic study of medieval environments accessible to a range of audiences, or enable work in the public humanities? How do we avoid imposing modern identities onto premodern people and environments when studying or modeling them through a digital lens? What do digital models reveal about the relationship between local, regional, and global environments in medieval conceptions of the world? How do we draw critical connections between diverse digital approaches? How can we build on the lessons of premodern digital ecology to understand our contemporary ecological moment? And how do we account for the inherent environmental costs of digital methods? 

Articles might consider topics such as: digital modeling or exhibitions of medieval landscapes; the implications of biocodicological analyses of medieval manuscripts and materials; the environmental impact of digital tools; pedagogical applications of these technologies in courses dealing with medieval environments; the potential for digital tools to enable an interconnected view of the global Middle Ages; and the need for both digital and ecological fields to reckon with their participation in systems of oppression while engaging with justice for marginalized and racialized peoples.

Please send abstracts of approximately 300 words to Andrew ( and Aylin ( by December 1, 2023. Acceptance notices for abstracts will be issued by the end of December 2023 and full drafts will be due in September 2024. All articles will be peer reviewed; acceptance of an abstract does not guarantee publication.