How are history and computing related? How does computing support or change the goals of historians, in terms of theory, methodology, pedagogy and publication? How does history inform computing practices? This class is designed as a graduate-level introduction to some of the debates, historiographic challenges, and practical undertakings that arise when these two worlds combine.
NB: This draft syllabus was dramatically revised for use in Spring of 2016.
Course structure and goals
Because digital history is theoretical in nature as well as being an applied methodological approach with a heavy emphasis on collaboration, the structure of each session will reflect that. Each session is divided into a theoretical or historiographical discussion and a practical collaborative workshop. Each week we will use these different readings to explore a specific set of digital tools, and use the practical experience as a way of understanding how tools can help to advance and inform the historiographic debates that have been introduced. By the end of the semester, we will have:
- Surveyed the promises, limitations, and boundaries of the digital as they apply to scholarly communications and production in history and the humanities at large
- Developed a working familiarity with the goals and concerns of the community of scholars engaged in digital history projects of all kinds
- Developed individual/tool-based and collaborative/project-development expertise that contributes to your scholarly footprint in the digital history community
Assignments and Assessments
Three types of assessments provide coverage for the three course goals.
- In-class discussion and 6 short responses (40%): Short 500-word public responses (e.g. blog, Tumblr, etc.), with attendant shorter social-media posts (Twitter, Instagram), to 6 of the 10 weeks with broad-topic coverage and pre-assigned reading. Everyone will respond to week 2, Definitions and Challenges. These short responses are designed to help you define the boundaries of digital history as you see it, as well as to help you find and participate in the digital history and humanities communities. These responses will require you to find, vet and briefly discuss an additional 2 long-form sources and 4-5 social-media posts on that topic. Responses–plus your participation in class as you discuss your responses, your colleagues’ responses, and the sources in and beyond our syllabus–are worth 40% of your grade.
- Tool expertise (10%): In addition to the weekly high-level overviews of particular types of tools, you’ll also be asked to develop tool expertise in a single tool that will further your interests as a historian. Some of this tool building will happen during our course sessions, but the bulk of it will be done in consult with the professor and will take advantage of the many training opportunities and workshops that exist both at the university level and on a wider national scale. To support your learning, you’ll be divided into groups with peers who are developing similar skill sets. Your skill-set development will account for 10% of your grade and will be assessed on your discussion of your learning process and how you chose to integrate your tool into your final project.
A final project with 3 components (50%)
- An in-class presentation (10%) of your project’s background, potential, and road map in weeks 9 or 10. This requires three things: assigning 1 reading for your colleagues a minimum of 1 week in advance; doing a 10-minute overview that explains your project’s theoretical and historiographic underpinnings and provides a technical roadmap; leading a 20-minute peer-review discussion that integrates the reading with your project and its roadmap.
- A poster (printed or interactive) (10%) presented in draft form during a practice jury in week 13 and in final form at a juried poster session during finals week. The jury of 3 will be announced during week 8 of the semester but will include scholars with digital expertise, public-history expertise and scholars with traditional history research projects. This also includes bragging rights for the jury winner.
- A final project submission (30%) that presents a more detailed account of the process and results of the presentation and poster in some sort of permanently accessible form (e.g. blog, . This will include a discussion of your choice of tool, your skill acquisition process and the role your specific tool played in the project’s final form. For ease of assessment, the final project submission will be the time-investment equivalent of a 25-30-page paper. We’ll negotiate the workload of this kind of project on an individual basis. Substantial portions of both the poster and the mid-semester presentation can and should be incorporated into this component of the final project. **Nota bene: In an ideal world, you should base this project on a well-received paper written for another graduate course in history, or on a chapter from your dissertation, in order to take advantage of the historiographic foundation you have already developed in that topic.
Late Assignments: If an assignment is due the same day that we have class, it is should be posted anytime prior to the beginning of class. If it is due on a non-class-session day, it is due by midnight. The assignments are an important part of class interaction and will therefore be penalized by 10% a day for each day that they are late, starting with one minute past the beginning of class or one minute past midnight as appropriate. You will be responsible for posting the URL or other finding aid for your assignment to Canvas, and I will use that to assess late penalties.
Please let me know if you have conflicts or difficulties. I am happy to make alternate arrangements or accommodations, but I can only do so if you take responsibility for communicating your needs to me directly and as far in advance as possible.
Nota bene: These readings will change, in part because digital history moves quickly, and in part because the interests you express will affect what we read as the semester progresses. Please make sure you check reading weekly.
Week 1: Intro: Humanities and computing? Computing in the humanities? Digital humanities? A brief history, plus the beginnings of a digital scholarly footprint
- Stephen Robertson, “The Differences between Digital History and Digital Humanities”, http://drstephenrobertson.com/blog-post/the-differences-between-digital-history-and-digital-humanities/ (accessed May 24, 2015)
- Exploring the difference between digital history and digital humanities using the table of contents and contributor list for Advancing Digital Humanities: Research, Methods, Theories, Paul Longley Arthur, and Katherine Bode, eds. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).
- #Twitterstorians and digital footprints
- Under the hood of a Web site.
Week 2: Definitions and Challenges: What has digital history been? How is it defined differently from “regular” history? How is it part of or different from DH at large? What kinds of things does it do well/not do well? How are these grounded in perception? Reality? Credentials? Collaborations? This week’s reading is particularly heavy, but the perspectives here will ground the remainder of the semester; weekly readings will be lower during weeks with a heavy technical component.
- Susan Hockney, [A History of Humanities Computing] (http://www.digitalhumanities.org/companion/view?docId=blackwell/9781405103213/9781405103213.xml&chunk.id=ss1-2-1&toc.depth=1&toc.id=ss1-2-1&brand=9781405103213_brand), in A Companion to Digital Humanities, ed. Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004. http://www.digitalhumanities.org/companion/
- “Interchange: The Promise of Digital History” in Journal of American History 95:2, September 2008, p. 452-491.
- Douglas Seefeldt and William G. Thomas, “What Is Digital History?”, Intersections: History and New Media in Perspectives on History (May 2009, accessed May 20, 2015).
- 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, http://WritingHistory.trincoll.edu). See also the 2012 web edition of the same scholarship](http://quod.lib.umich.edu/d/dh/12230987.0001.001/1:4/–writing-history-in-the-digital-age?g=dculture;rgn=div1;view=fulltext;xc=1#4.1).
- Joshua Sternfeld, Historical Understanding in the Quantum Age in Journal of Digital Humanities, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer 2014, accessed May 20, 2015).
- 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.
- Jo Guldi and David Armitage, “Introduction: The bonfire of the humanities” in The History Manifesto (Cambridge University Press, 2014; linked version updated Feb 2015; accessed May 31, 2015)
- http://historyonics.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/big-data-small-data-and-meaning_9.html and http://digitalriffs.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/big-data-some-historical-perspectives.html
Week 3: Pedagogy and Public History: What are the tools that make up a digital historian’s arsenal and how does that affect how we present and interact with digital history? How do we bring the digital into a public and scholarly world in ways that move outside of print, outside of the monograph, outside of the classroom? Does that change history as a profession? Does that change who we think of as a historian?
- Sharon Leon, User-Centered Digital History: Doing Public History on the Web, 6floors.org/bracket (March 3, 2015; accessed May 22, 2015)
- Robert Stephens and Josh Thumma, “Faculty-Undergraduate Collaboration in Digital History at a Public Research University” in The History Teacher, Vol. 38, No. 4 (Aug., 2005), pp. 525-542
- Harry Klinkhamer, “Where are the citizen historians?”, in Public History Commons (November, 2014; accessed May 31, 2015)
- Jo Guldi and David Armitage, “Introduction to Chapter 4: Big questions, big data“ in The History Manifesto (Cambridge University Press, 2014; linked version updated Feb 2015; accessed May 31, 2015)
- Wikipedia’s entry on Digital History (accessed May 20, 2015).
Week 4: Evidence vs Data: Is evidence different than data? How do we know? How do we navigate the difference between aggregate and anecdotal? How do we navigate different data sets ranging from small-scale personal archival collection to large paywalled data to public data scraping?
- Shawn Graham, Ian Milligan, Scott Weingart, “The Third Wave of Computational History” in The Historian’s Macroscope – working title (Under contract with Imperial College Press. Open Draft Version, Autumn 2013, http://themacroscope.org; accessed May 22, 2015)
- Trevor Owens, “Defining Data for Humanists: Text, Artifact, Information or Evidence?”, Journal of Digital Humanities, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter 2011, accessed May 24, 2015).
- Christof Schöch, “Big? Smart? Clean? Messy? Data in the Humanities” in Journal of Digital Humanities, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Winter 2013, accessed May 24, 2015).
- Trevor Muñoz, “Data Curation as Publishing for the Digital Humanities”, Journal of Digital Humanities, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Summer 2013, accessed May 24, 2015).
- Find/explore a small dataset in your subfield (can be your own)
- Explore a large dataset in your subfield (or theorize why there isn’t one)
Week 5: Data mining: What can we do with large scale data from a textual perspective? How does it change how we talk about data (statistics vs anecdote), and/or use interdisciplinary approaches like computational linguistics?
- Shawn Graham, Ian Milligan and Scott Weingart, “Basic Text Mining: Word Clouds, their Limitations, and Moving Beyond Them” in The Historian’s Macroscope – working title (Under contract with Imperial College Press. Open Draft Version, Autumn 2013, http://themacroscope.org; accessed May 22, 2015)
- Johanna Drucker, “5B. Data Mining and Text Analysis” in Intro to Digital Humanities: Concepts, Methods, and Tutorials for Students and Instructors (UCLA Center for Digital Humanities, Sept 2013; accessed May 23, 2015).
- 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)
Week 6: Data visualization: Does seeing data instead of reading about evidence change how we ask questions? Make arguments? What works and what doesn’t in data visualization?
- John Theibault, “Visualizations and Historical Arguments“ in Jack Dougherty and Kristen Nawrotzki, eds., Writing History in the Digital Age. final 2013 publisher version (accessed May 22, 2015),
- Scott B. Weingart, “Demystifying Networks, Parts I & II” in Journal of Digital Humanities, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter 2011, accessed May 20, 2015).
- Micki Kaufman, “Quantifying Kissinger Intro Video” in ”Everything on Paper Will Be Used Against Me:” Quantifying Kissinger (July 2014; accessed May 28, 2015)
- Noah Iliinsky, Questions to Ask About Data Viz (October 2012; accessed May 22, 2015)
- Bring a social network or text mining question from your research that you’d like to visualize
Week 7: Images and imagery: How does image processing work? What does it contribute to a study of history? Can augmented reality provide additional substance to the question of historical research?
- Melissa Terras, Chapter 4: Image processing in the digital humanities in Claire Warwick, Melissa Terras, and Julianne Nyhan, eds., Digital Humanities in Practice
- Virtual Paul’s Cross [Quick Guide</a> and documentation of research principles](http://vpcp.chass.ncsu.edu/quick-guide/)
Week 8: Spatial history: What is the “spatial turn” and how does GIS inform historical research?
- Jo Guldi, “The Spatial Turn in History”, in Spatial Humanities: A Project of the Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship (Scholar’s Lab; accessed May 31, 2015)
- Weeks 9 & 10: Presentations
Week 11: Access: How do we manage digital history access? How do digital historians become digital historians, and who does that privilege? How do we make digital history accessible? How do digital and public history fit together? How do we use what we know about history to disrupt these patterns?
- Linda Pomerantz, “Bridging the Digital Divide: Reflective Essay on ‘Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age’”, in AHA’s Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age (2004, updated
- John Willinsky, “History” (Chapter 13 in The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2006)
- George Williams, “Disability, Universal Design, and the Digital Humanities“ in Matthew K. Gold, ed., Debates in the Digital Humanities (University of Minnesota, 2012 Print Edition; accessed May 31, 2015)
- Tara McPherson, “Why Are the Digital Humanities So White? or Thinking the Histories of Race and Computation”, in Matthew K. Gold, ed., Debates in the Digital Humanities (University of Minnesota, 2012 Print Edition; accessed May 31, 2015)
- Bethany Nowviskie, “What do girls dig?”, in Matthew K. Gold, ed., Debates in the Digital Humanities (University of Minnesota, 2012 Print Edition; accessed May 31, 2015)
Week 12: Project management & Sustainability: How does a digital history project, with all of its moving parts and collaborators, get off the ground? How do we manage publication, data, analysis, visualization, and access as a whole on small and large scales? How do we back up our stuff? How do we future-proof our stuff? How do we pass our stuff to someone else? At what point in a DH project do we start to think about project management issues?
- Michael J. Kramer, “Going Meta on Metadata”, in Journal of Digital Humanities, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer 2014, accessed May 20, 2015).
- Posts on “Digital Historiography and the Archives” in AHA Today (Jan 2014, from a session at the AHA Annual Meeting; accessed May 20, 2015)
- Stephen Robertson, “CHNM’s Histories: Collaboration in Digital History” (Oct 2014; accessed May 22, 2014)
- 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. final 2013 publisher version (accessed May 22, 2015)
- Lisa Fagin Davis, “Manuscript Road Trip: A DH Detour”, in “Manuscript Road Trip” (June 2015; accessed June 2, 2015)
- Week 13: Poster sessions
Week 14: Professionalization: How does digital history and its emphasis on distributed knowledge and collaboration change the history profession? How do we mitigate the practicalities of having to develop an additional set of skills? How do we approach the scholarly world as digital historians?
- “Guidelines for the Professional Evaluation of Digital Scholarship in History”, American Historical Association, Ad Hoc Committee on Professional Evaluation of Digital Scholarship by Historians, April 2015.
- “History as a Book Discipline” in Perspectives on History (April 2015, accessed May 24, 2015).
- Jennifer Guiliano, “[‘Alt-Ac’ No More</a>” (Feb 2014; accessed May 31, 2015) and “Why you should be a digital humanist](http://jguiliano.com/blog/2014/02/18/altac_no_more/)” (Oct 2014; accessed May 31, 2015)
Week 15: Final thoughts: What role does digital history play in the history profession at large? Where are we going, and can there be consensus on the answer?
- Fred Gibbs, “Critical Discourse in Digital Humanities“ in Journal of Digital Humanities, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter 2011, accessed May 20, 2015).
- “Introduction to exchange on The History Manifesto” in The American Historical Review (Volume 120 Issue 2 April 2015; accessed May 31, 2015)
- Deborah Cohen and Peter Mandler, “The History Manifesto: A Critique”, in The American Historical Review (Volume 120 Issue 2 April 2015; accessed May 31, 2015)
- David Armitage and Jo Guldi, “Manifesto: A Reply to Deborah Cohen and Peter Mandler“ in The American Historical Review (Volume 120 Issue 2 April 2015; accessed May 31, 2015)
- Week 16: Final poster session
- Location TBA