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INFO: Journal of Historical Network Research (JHNR)

JHNR publishes outstanding and original contributions which apply the theories and methodologies of social network analysis to historical research whilst respecting best practices in historical research. Articles in this issue cover the following topics:


Trimalchio's last will: shifting interactions between seeming and being (KOÌSTNER, ELENA)

During the cena Trimalchionis – maybe the most prominent stage of Petronius Satyrica – we come to know of different testamentary dispositions whereby the focus is set on Trimalchio as legatee, heir, and especially as testator. To analyze and visualize these different roles here, I used an approach derived from historical network research: the ego-alter-dyad enables a systematic analysis of interpersonal interactions which can be regarded as the basis of most Roman last wills. The testament in Rome, in the sense of a last will and testament, implied a unilateral disposal by which an heir was appointed, or a person intended by law to be an heir was excluded from inheritance. Apart from the legal context a testament was also regarded as ultimate as well as financial confirmation of amicitia and family ties. Using the approach derived from historical network research the ties connecting Trimalchio with his former patronus, friends, family members, and slaves are visualized in different graphs. It is the aim of this paper bringing both sources and graphs into dialog and interpret them together. By doing so, Trimalchio’s mimus which he performed when reading out his last will gets obvious. He did not reply any of his mutual friendship or family ties in his testament, but he makes his friends and family members believe he would do so. Thereby, Trimalchio offended against a societal norm which was of paramount importance in Roman society. In his cena Trimalchionis Petronius creates a bizarre mimus where the dramatis personae, especially Trimalchio, were shifting between authenticity and illusion, between seeming and being.

Network Analysis of Medieval Manuscript Transmission. Basic Principles and Methods (FERNAÌNDEZ RIVA, GUSTAVO)

Manuscripts are the main source for the study of medieval history and culture. Their features, production, circulation and transmission have been the subject of research from different disciplines and perspectives. This presentation will introduce an innovative way to investigate medieval manuscript transmission using network analysis. The computational study of networks has recently shown some great advancement, both as a visualization strategy and as a mathematical model to study complex phenomena, and can be very productively applied to medieval book history. This presentation will focus on the theoretical and technical foundations to create a network of shared manuscript transmission. These networks allow researchers to apply innovative exploratory visualization techniques and statistical methods. As a test sample, a network created to examine the shared manuscript transmission of texts written in German will be presented. The data for this research has been compiled from the online database Handschriftencensus and it has been processed and analyzed using Python and Gephi. The focus of the article are the theories, methods and strategies to create a network of shared manuscript transmission, why they are a valuable research method and how to evaluate and analyze their features.


The present work investigates the process of emergence of new epistemic communities. The research is based on semantic, content-related data extracted from a corpus of 359 printed editions, mainly of textbooks used to teach cosmology at European universities between 1472 and 1650. Epistemic communities are identified as families of editions, grouped according to their content, that eventually came to shape knowledge within and by way of the European educational framework. First, a method of classifying the textual content of the books is introduced. Second, a directed, multiplex network is constructed in five layers whose structures are defined specifically for the research question at hand. Then the network is analyzed, first by making use of the aggregated graph—which accounts for the connectivity between books when any of the potential semantic relations are indistinctly considered—and second by showing the contribution of each layer to the emergence of new families of editions. Finally, we interpret the results within a historical framework and identify an epistemic community that represents continuity with the medieval tradition, plus two new scientific and diverging communities that originated in the cultural context of the Reformed countries, which appear in the 1530s. The characteristics of the identified epistemic communities are further analyzed in order to draw general inferences concerning mechanisms of emergence of epistemic communities and their identification in corpora of historical sources. The work concludes by describing future research endeavors related to the corpus, also based on new series of data.

Reconstructing science networks from the past. Eponyms between malacological authors in the mid- 19th century (BREURE, ABRAHAM S.H.; HEIBERGER, RAPHAEL H.)

Reconstructing scientific networks from the past can be a difficult process. In this paper, we argue that eponyms are a promising way to explore historic relationships between natural scientists using taxonomy. Our empirical case is the emerging community of malacologists in the 19th century. Along the lines of pivotal concepts of social network analysis we interpret eponyms as immaterial goods that resemble the proporties of regular social contacts. Utilising Exponential Random Graph Models reveals that the social exchange underlying eponyms follows similar rules as other social relationships such as friendships or collaborations. It is generally characterized by network endogenous structures and homophily. Interestingly, the productivity of authors seems to be well recognised among contemporary researchers and increases the probability of a tie within the network significantly. In addition, we observe an epistemological divide in the malacological research community. Thus even in the 19th century, at a time when science was just emerging as a differentiated social system, epistemological distinctions have been a defining concept for scientific contacts.


Eine relationale Perspektive auf den Umsturzversuch gegen Hitler vom 20. Juli 1944. Rezension zu Linda von Keyserlingk-Rehbein: Nur eine »ganz kleine Clique«? Die NS-Ermittlungen über das Netzwerk vom 20. Juli 1944. Lukas Verlag 2018 (Jörg Raab)

Lemercier, Claire and Claire Zalc. Quantitative Methods in the Humanities. An Introduction (BIXLER, MATTHIAS)