Digging through the Archives Together: Collaborative Research in Medieval Gender and Jewish History

Saturday, January 6, 2018: 8:50 AM
Congressional Room B (Omni Shoreham)
Dana Wessell Lightfoot, University of Northern British Columbia
Alexandra Guerson, University of Toronto
Several years ago, we applied together to present a paper at a large academic conference. After crafting our abstract, we were stymied when trying to submit our proposal because the platform used for submission did not allow for multiple authors. Many history conferences are not initially set up to deal with the presentation of work by multiple authors, a result of characteristically individual nature of historical research and writing. In our paper, we will explore the benefits of collaborative research in relation to our SSHRC-funded project on Jewish women and conversas in late medieval Catalonia. By blending our individual backgrounds in medieval Iberian gender history and medieval Iberian Jewish history, our project benefits from scholars trained in using medieval Iberian archival sources and languages but approaching these documents from different theoretical and conceptual frameworks. As well, each of us has worked with different types of archival sources, therefore working collaboratively allows us to consider a much broader range of documentation than we could individually, maximizing our time in the archives. Collaboration has also allowed us to undertake a project that would have been too daunting for a single scholar. One of the main reasons the fifteenth-century Crown of Aragon remains relatively understudied is the sheer volume of documentation available in archives such as the ones we use. Working as a team has allowed us not only to cover a wider range of documentation but also make our research available to the public faster. All archival research, writing of articles, conference papers and the historical monograph are shared equally between us. We input materials into the same database, we discuss our findings with each other, and we co-write everything in a shared google document. This level of collaboration has proven extremely fruitful and productive.