Week Two: History, Narrative, and New Media



This week, we begin to consider how history has evolved as a discipline, both in terms of earlier debates about the very nature of history and its methodology and more recent challenges from digital technologies and new platforms for disseminating knowledge about the past. Were the proponents of narrative history right about the fundamental necessity for a diachronic, semi-literary approach to interpreting the past – or were more radical critics correct to suggest that narrative is just one of many approaches (and perhaps far from the best)? As we consider new platforms such as blogs, podcasts, and digital archives, how do we think about storytelling? Can history move beyond narrative and still inform audiences and publics about the past?

Are there other ways of telling about the past? What are some landmarks in terms of the embrace of digital media by historians – what has worked and what hasn’t?

Where do we fit talented upstarts like Nate Silver in our understanding of scholarship and new media? Can we think of parallels that are more specifically historical?


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