Figurative Littorals and Wild Fields

with Arianne Urus & Michael Polczynski

hosted by Chris Gratien

If geography is the stage for social activity, how do geographical settings impact the form of the human drama? In this episode, we discuss wide expanses such as seas, plains, and deserts along with their adjacent coasts or "littorals" in an attempt to identify parallels between different types of geographic zones and what they mean for the study of comparative and global history.

Arianne Urus is a doctoral candidate at New York University studying environmental history and international order in early modern Europe and the Atlantic world. (see
Michael Polczynski is a doctoral candidate at Georgetown University researching the history of the Ottoman Empire and Eastern Europe. (see
Chris Gratien is a doctoral candidate at Georgetown University researching the social and environmental history of the Ottoman Empire and the modern Middle East. (see

Note for the listener: Although it is supported by some primary sources and archival research, this podcast is not primarily a work of primary source research. It is a synthesis of publicly available information and draws extensively from the following works below, which are also mentioned during the course of the episode. For the purposes of academic citation, we encourage you to consult these works.


Atlantic World:

David Armitage, The British Atlantic World, 1500-1800 (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.).

Lauren A. Benton, A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400--1900 (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Alison Games, “Atlantic History: Definitions, Challenges, and Opportunities,” The American Historical Review 111, no. 3 (June 1, 2006): 741–57.

Michael Jarvis, In the Eye of All Trade: Bermuda, Bermudians, and the Maritime Atlantic World, 1680-1783 (Chapel Hill: Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia, by the University of North Carolina Press, 2010).

Peter Linebaugh and Rediker, Marcus, The Many-headed Hydra Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (Boston: Beacon Press, 2000).

Renaud Morieux, Une Mer Pour Deux Royaumes: La Manche, Frontière Franco-anglaise XVIIe-XVIIIe Siècles (Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2008).

Philip E. Steinberg, The Social Construction of the Ocean (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001),


David Abulafia, The Great Sea: a Human History of the Mediterranean (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

Bartolomé Bennassar, Les Chrétiens d’Allah : L’histoire Extraordinaire Des Renégats, XVIe et XVIIe Siècles (Paris: Perrin, 1989).

Eric Dursteler, Venetians in Constantinople Nation, Identity, and Coexistence in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006).

Molly Greene, A Shared World : Christians and Muslims in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000).

Pearson, M. N. (Michael Naylor). 2006. "Littoral Society: The Concept and the Problems". Journal of World History. 17, no. 4: 353-373.

Eurasian Steppe:

Davies, Brian. 2007. Warfare, State and Society on the Black Sea Steppe, 1500-1700. Warfare and History. London ;New York: Routledge.

Klein, Denise. 2012. The Crimean Khanate between East and West (15th-18th century). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Kołodziejczyk, Dariusz. 2011. The Crimean Khanate and Poland-Lithuania international diplomacy on the European periphery (15th-18th century) : a study of peace treaties followed by annotated documents. Leiden: Brill.

McNeill, William Hardy. 1964. Europe's steppe frontier, 1500-1800. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Sunderland, Willard. 2004. Taming the Wild Field: colonization and empire on the Russian steppe. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.


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