Student Spotlight: John Wyatt Greenlee

Headshot of graduate student John Wyatt Greenlee

March 18, 2019

John Wyatt Greenlee is a doctoral student in medieval studies from Salt Lake City, Utah. After attending Hamilton College as an undergraduate and East Tennessee State University for his masters, he chose to attend Cornell to study cartographic and spatial history.

What is your area of research and why is it important? Describe your research in non-expert language.

I work primarily on cartographic and spatial history. Studying the way that people in the past have thought about and mapped their surroundings tells us a great deal about how they understood themselves in relationship to the world, the cosmos, and other peoples. My dissertation, which describes the role of eels in English history during the medieval and early modern periods, began with observations I made about maps of London in the 17th century. Close study of maps opens a lot of doorways for discovery.

What inspired you to choose this field of study?

I have always loved maps, and I took a class on critical cartography and spatial history during my M.A. program at East Tennessee State University. I hadn’t previously considered that cartographic history might be something that one could aspire to, but the material in that course offered me a new set of tools and methodologies for investigating the past that just made sense to me.

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