4 May 2021

Call for Short Research Articles: Digital Methodologies for Research on Early Modern Privacy (1500-1800)

 A peer-reviewed collection edited by Sanne Maekelberg and Natália da Silva Perez


A visualization of a social network using metadata of thousands of archive documents.
Martin Grandjean (2014). "La connaissance est un réseau". Les Cahiers du Numérique 10 (3): 37-54.
Imaged licensed CC BY-SA 3.0. Source: Wikimedia Commons.


One of the tenets of the Centre for Privacy Studies research method is that, in order to examine early modern privacy, researchers might profit from a systematic-yet-multifaceted approach. Mette Birkedal Bruun, the centre director, proposes that the analysis of historical privacy can be strategically subdivided in three complementary approaches to primary sources. The first approach focuses on terminologies of privacy, and seeks to unveil the different discursive inflections used throughout history to express experiences and norms around privacy. The second approach focuses on zones of privacy, and proposes a heuristic strategy to examine the social and spatial organization of practices related to privacy. The third approach focuses on mapping the semantics of privacy, zooming in, for instance, on its opposites in order to uncover what can be learned by analyzing contrasting terms. Close-reading of sources is at the heart of these complementary methodological approaches: they privilege intimate contact and close analysis of the historical material.

The present call for short research articles invites researchers to engage computational and digital methods to expand the scope of the PRIVACY method mentioned above. We welcome contributions that honor the historian’s attention to primary sources, but also enable a birds-eye view of topics related of historical privacy. We are particularly interested in case-studies that exercise their methods in a critical way, taking care to unite the potential of computational tools with a reflection of how digital and computational humanities might: 1) enhance research into historical privacy, 2) open up new avenues of analysis, 3) drive historical arguments, and 4) raise new research questions.

We welcome submission of short research articles (3000 words) that analyze historical privacy through the use of tools such as:

  • Digital mapping and Geographical Information System (GIS)
  • Natural language processing (topic modeling, sentiment analysis, sense disambiguation, etc.)
  • 3D reconstruction and Building Information Modeling (BIM)
  • Network analysis and visualization


Selected short articles will be part of a peer-reviewed, open access edited collection focused on early modern privacy (1500-1800). The collection will appear as a special issue of a digital humanities journal. We seek to feature case-studies stemming from European contexts or that employ a transnational or comparative perspective between Europe and other parts of the world. The language of publication is English, but authors are welcome to engage with primary sources in other languages. Please use the Chicago Manual of Style with shortened notes and bibliography format. The short length of the texts allows for submission of ongoing research and early findings. We encourage early career researchers and PhD candidates to submit their contributions.


Submissions will be considered on a rolling basis until Friday 15 October 2021. You will be notified of whether your text was selected to enter the peer-review process no later than Friday 3rd December 2021. The volume editors, Sanne Maekelberg and Natália da Silva Perez, will provide editorial guidance to the authors of selected articles in order to improve the chances of success during the peer-review process.


Please upload your short research article (3000 words) together with your CV using this form 


Suggested readings on privacy:


Allen, Anita L. 1988. Uneasy Access : Privacy for Women in a Free Society. Totowa, N.J. : Rowman & Littlefield. http://archive.org/details/uneasyaccesspriv00alle.

Altman, Irwin. 1975. The Environment and Social Behavior: Privacy, Personal Space, Territory, Crowding. Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.

Altman, Irwin. 1977. ‘Privacy Regulation: Culturally Universal or Culturally Specific?’. Journal of Social Issues 33 (3): 66–84. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1977.tb01883.x.

Ariès, Philippe, Roger Chartier, and Georges Duby. 1989. A History of Private Life. Vol. 3: Passions of the Renaissance. Harvard: Belknap Press.

Crane, Mary Thomas. 2009. ‘Illicit Privacy and Outdoor Spaces in Early Modern England on JSTOR’. Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 9 (1): 4–22.

Goodman, Dena. 1992. ‘Public Sphere and Private Life: Toward a Synthesis of Current Historiographical Approaches to the Old Regime’. History and Theory 31 (1): 1. https://doi.org/10.2307/2505605.

Margulis, Stephen T. 2003. ‘Privacy as a Social Issue and Behavioral Concept’. Journal of Social Issues 59 (2): 243–61. https://doi.org/10.1111/1540-4560.00063.

McKeon, Michael. 2005. The Secret History of Domesticity: Public, Private, and the Division of Knowledge. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Orlin, Lena Cowen. 2008. Locating Privacy in Tudor London. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Roessler, Beate. 2014. The Value of Privacy. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Sloot, Bart van der, and Aviva de Groot. 2018. The Handbook of Privacy Studies: An Interdisciplinary Introduction. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. https://www-jstor-org.ep.fjernadgang.kb.dk/stable/j.ctvcmxpmp.

Vincent, David. 2016. Privacy: A Short History. Oxford, UNITED KINGDOM: Polity Press. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/kbdk/detail.action?docID=4432249.

Weintraub, Jeff, and Krishan Kumar, eds. 1997. Public and Private in Thought and Practice: Perspectives on a Grand