Digital History (undergraduate course)

Draft syllabus


Assignment 1 (in several parts): MicroHistory Assignment Description

  • Draft research question and bibliography due in week 5 (Feb 10)
  • Annotated bibliography due in week 7 (Feb 24)
  • Bullet-point rough draft due in week 8 (March 3)
  • Prose rough draft due in week 9 (March 10)
  • Final draft due in week 10 with in-class peer review (March 23)

Assignment 2 (in several parts): Group digital-history context and project for each of your MicroHistories.

  • Group-project concepts in class during week 10 (March 23)
  • Draft presentation in week 14

Weeks 1-3: How do “digital” and “history” fit together?

Week 1: What is digital history?

Reading (due Th 1/11): Nigel Raab, Who is the Historian, Introduction and pp 1-45.

In-class digital encounter: An introduction to the three technologies we’ll use this semester: text mining, network analysis, and neogeography.

Week 2: What about technology


Tuesday: Alex Roland, “Once More into the Stirrups: Lynn White Jr., ‘Medieval Technology and Social Change’ (Technology and Culture, Vol. 44, No. 3, Jul., 2003), pp. 574-585) Online in IUCAT. Find it by searching for the journal title at, and then searching in the journal itself; spend 15 minutes doing this. Then if you still can't find the PDF, cheat and use this link:

Thursday: Skim the blog post topics at and choose two posts to read in their entirety.

In-class digital encounter: Pen, paper and complex systems: the emergent properties of history and of the Internet as two separate (and more recently intertwined) systems. 

Week 3: What do archives do for historians?

CLASS ON THURSDAY JAN 26 WILL BE AT THE IUB ARCHIVES, NOT IN OUR STANDARD CLASSROOM. Wells E460 (East tower - take the elevators up to the 4th floor and the archives will be to your right).

Reading: Nigel Raab, Who is the Historian, pp 46-119.

In-class digital encounter: The differences between physical and digital archives, including a trip to the IUB archives.

Weeks 4-6: How can we use digital history to understand IUB?

Week 4: What does it mean to be a Hoosier

Reading: James Madison, Hoosiers, 2-53, 96-117, 190-212

In-class digital encounter: Excel and data cleanup for historians

Assignment due (Feb 3): Narrow selection of object from IUB archives to 3 artifacts.

Week 5: Where does IUB fit in that Hoosier world?

Read: James Madison, Hoosiers, 254-274, 332-338


In-class digital encounter: text mining with word clouds and frequency analysis. For Thursday: Download a text editor ( for Mac or for either Mac or Windows)

Assignment due (Feb 10): Draft research question and bibliography

Week 6: What does the digital turn do for historians? What should we worry about?

Reading: William J. Turkel, Shezan Muhammedi, and Mary Beth Start, “Grounding Digital History in the History of Computing“ in IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, Volume 36, Number 2, April-June 2014, pp. 72-75; Sherman Dorn, “Is (Digital) History More Than an Argument about the Past?,” in Jack Dougherty and Kristen Nawrotzki, eds., Writing History in the Digital Age,  (University of Michigan, final 2013 publisher version; accessed May 22, 2015).

In-class digital tool encounter: Neogeography and maps as malleable objects

Weeks 7-16: How can we present our findings using digital tools?

Week 7: Topic modeling, corpus linguistics and historical documents

Reading and tool workshop: Ben Schmidt, “When you have a MALLET, everything looks like a nail” in Sapping Attention (Nov 2, 2012; accessed May 28, 2015); Michelle Moravec, “Corpus Linguistics for Historians” in History in the City (Dec 2013; accessed May 28, 2015)

Assignment due (Feb 24): Annotated bibliography

Week 8: Centrality and network analysis in historical networks

Reading and tool workshop: Scott B. Weingart, “Demystifying Networks, Parts I & II” in Journal of Digital Humanities, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter 2011, accessed May 20, 2015).

Assignment due (March 3): Bullet-point rough draft

Week 9: hGIS and the Resurgence of Spatial History

Reading and tool workshop: Anne Kelly Knowles, “Has Historical GIS Arrived?: A Review of Toward Spatial Humanities” in Southern Spaces, Oct 2014 (Accessed June 12, 2016)

Assignment due (March 10): Prose rough draft

Week 10: What should we worry about as digital historians?

CLASS ON TUESDAY MARCH 21 WILL BE IN M.I.L.L., the School of Education's makerspace (Wright 2260):

Reading: Your own sources

Assignment due (March 23): Final draft due, with in-class peer review

Week 11: Workshop

Data collection: Reminder to take photos of the buildings and commemorative plaques you pass as you walk through campus.

Reading: In-group peer-reading assignment from a peer’s draft bibliography. Consider how this supports the central thesis of the group's page and how it might provide support for, or counter-argument to, your specific thesis.

March 30:

Student Engagement/Enrollment:

Campus Development: ,

Global Impact: , H301 Source for 3/23

Week 12: Workshop

Reading: In-group peer-reading assignment from a peer’s draft bibliography. Consider how this supports the central thesis of the group's page and how it might provide support for, or counter-argument to, your specific thesis.

April 4:

Data collection: Photos of student buildings

Student Engagement/Enrollment: Owen,

Campus Development: Rachel,

Global Impact: Lindsay,

April 6:

Data collection: Baseball in Japan (John)

Student Engagement/Enrollment: (with video)

Campus Development: Revisit

Global Impact:  Vincent, Louise; Stevenson, Sasha Rethinking rugby and the rainbow nation Journal ofAfrican Media Studies, Volume 2, Number 3, 1 November 2010

Week 13: Who Writes Our History?

April 11:

Data collection: Post WWII enrollment growth and the GI bill

Student Engagement/Enrollment: 

Campus Development: 

Global Impact: 

April 13:  Harry Klinkhamer, “Where are the citizen historians?”, in Public History Commons (November, 2014; accessed May 31, 2015). Data collection: TBA. Claim this spot!

In-class digital tool encounter: A consideration of crowd-sourcing.

Week 14: You Write Our History, That’s Who.

Assignment due: In-class presentations of in-progress group projects. Students will act as consultants on three axes for their peers: historical analysis of content, technical analysis of tools/digital methods chosen, audience analysis for clarity of presentation and communication.

Week 15: Workshop

Week 16 (finals week): Final presentation

Assignment due: In-class presentations of final group projects, with formal peer review comments. 1 hour of finals time slot will be allotted for revisions in response to formal peer review comments after the presentation.