Theory and Practice of Digital History
HIST 8885 – CRN 15538
Dr. Alex Sayf Cummings
Mondays 4:30-7:00PM Spring 2017
Most readings will be available online, but you should also purchase Renee Romano and Claire Bond Potter’s Doing Recent History: On Privacy, Copyright, Video Games, Institutional Review Boards, Activist Scholarship, and History That Talks Back (UGA Press, 2012).
HIST 8885 is the epitome of an interactive class, because it is about the ways we interact with the past and use technology to engage with others in this pursuit. You must do the reading and come to class prepared to engage seriously with your peers, the instructor, and any other outside speakers, guests, or communities that become involved with the course. In other words, participation is a must.
Participation includes posting a comment of at least 500 words (about two double-spaced pages) each week on the readings before 9am on the day of class. Points will be deducted for lateness. The response paper is a short assignment – Gravity’s Rainbow it is not, but it should show A. that you read the material and B. you gave careful consideration to the issues raised. You should read all of the readings each week, but you need only specifically address at least two of the readings in your weekly post.
Participation also involves creating a Twitter account (or documenting that you already have one), and signing up to follow at least seven different accounts by scholars, museums, historical societies, or other academic sources. Students will be expected to explore the ways historians use Twitter over the course of the semester.
- Participation 20%
- Project Review Assignment 10%
- Videri Book Review 20%
- Project Proposal 10%
- Final Project and Presentation 40%
The final project could take any number of forms–a digital archive or exhibit using Omeka, Scalar, or WordPress; a blog; a podcast; a photo essay; or any combination of different media and platforms–but it must be developed in close consultation with the instructor, while observing the appropriate norms for citation, intellectual property rights, and, if relevant, oral history research.
Note: Spring 2017 students are strongly encouraged to enroll in the free GSU Conference on Digital Literacy at Georgia State, February 2-3, 2015.
This syllabus is a general plan for the course; deviations may be necessary. All students are expected to comply with University and History Department policies on academic honesty. I will report any violation of these standards to the Dean of Students, and any act of plagiarism will result in a grade of “F” for the assignment and, possibly, the course. Multiple infractions of the GSU policy on academic honesty can result in more severe consequences, including expulsion from the University.
Students who wish to request accommodation for a disability may do so by registering with the Office of Disability Services. Students may only be accommodated upon issuance by the Office of Disability Services of a signed Accommodation Plan and are responsible for providing a copy of that plan to instructors of all classes in which accommodations are sought.
Monday 1/9. Week One. Introduction
Monday 1/23. Week Two. Understanding media
- Sardar and Van Loon, Introducing Media Studies, 1-49
- Bolter and Grusin, “Immediacy, Hypermediacy, and Remediation” (1998)
- The Economist, “From Papyrus to Pixels” (2014)
Monday 1/30. Week Three. Understanding digital history
- Visit Videri.org
- Hayden White, “The Problem of Narrative in Contemporary Historical Theory” (1984)
- Orville Vernon Burton, “American Digital History,” Social Science Computer Review23 (Summer 2005): 206-220
- Dan Cohen, “The Ivory Tower and the Open Web: Introduction: Burritos, Browsers, and Books [Draft].” (2011)
Monday 2/6. Week Four. Blogs
- Ralph Luker, “Were There Blog Enough and Time,” Perspectives on History (2005)
- Jude Webre, “Thin Is In: Rethinking 40 Years of Intellectual History in ‘Age of Fracture,'” Tropics of Meta (2014)
- RE Fulton, “‘She Looks the Abortionist and the Bad Woman’: Sensation, Physiognomy, and Misogyny in Abortion Discourse,” Nursing Clio (2015)
- Gillian Frank, “A Christmas Abortion,” Notches (2015)
- Alex Cummings and Jonathan Jarrett, “Only Typing? Informal Writing, Blogs, and the Academy,” in Writing History in the Digital Age (2013)
- Project Review Assignment Due
Monday 2/13. Week Five. Interfaces: Omeka Demonstration with guest Dr. Robin Wharton
- No post necessary this week
Monday 2/20. Week Seven. How do databases tell stories?
- Videri.org book review due
- Lev Manovich, “Database as a Genre of New Media“
- Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, “So the Colors Cover the Wires: Interface, Aesthetics, and Usability” (2004)
- Nina Simon, “Discourse in the Blogosphere: What Museums Can Learn from Web 2.0,” Museums & Social Issues 2, no. 2 (November 2007): 257-274
- Sheila Brennan and T. Mills Kelly, “Why Collecting History Online is Web 1.5,” March 2009
Monday 2/27. Week Eight. Tags: ontology and taxonomy
- Alex Wichowksi, “Survival of the Fittest: Folksonomies, Findability, and the Evolution of Information Organization” (2009)
- Mary W. Elings and Gunter Waibel, “Metadata for all: Descriptive standards and metadata sharing across libraries, archives and museums,” First Monday 12:3 (2007)
- Diane Hillmann, “Using Dublin Core” (2007)
- Danny Sullivan, “Once The Most Powerful Person In Search, Srinija Srinivasan Leaves Yahoo” (2010)
- Tom Scheinfeldt, “Omeka and Its Peers” (2010)
Monday 3/6. Week Nine. Podcasts and social media with guest Nicolas Hoffmann
- “The Alibi,” Serial (2014)
- “Fu-Go,” Radiolab (2015)
- “Playboy Covers Up,” On the Media (2015)
- “Fountain Drinks,” 99% Invisible (2015)
- “Octothorpe,” 99% Invisible (2014)
- Elisabeth Grant, “Five Ways for Historians to Use Twitter” (2011)
- Alexandra Collie, “Why Historians Should Use Twitter: An Interview with Katrina Gulliver”(2015)
Monday 3/13. Week Ten. Spring Break.
Monday 3/20. Week Eleven. Projects discussion
- Project Proposal Due
- Post about your projects
Monday 3/27. Week Twelve. Ethics: Oral history, privacy, and copyright
- “Sight Unseen,” Radiolab (2015)
- Roy Rosenzweig, “Should Historical Scholarship Be Free?” (2005)
- Laura Clark Brown and Nancy Kaiser, “Opening Archives on the Recent American Past,” in Doing Recent History (2012)
- Gail Drakes, “Who Owns Your Archive? Historians and the Challenges of Copyright Law,” in Doing Recent History (2012)
Monday 4/3. Week Thirteen. No class: work on final projects
- No posts this week
Monday 4/10. Week Fourteen. Speakers and listeners: Cultural democracy vs. professionalism
- Stacy Schiff, “Know It All,” The New Yorker (2006)
- Roy Rosenzweig, “Can History be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past,” Journal of American History 93:1 (June 2006), 117-146
- Leslie Madsen-Brooks, “‘I nevertheless am a historian’: Digital Historical Practice and Malpractice around Black Confederate Soldiers,” Writing History in the Digital Age (2012)
- “Truth and the World of Wikipedia Gatekeepers,” Talk of the Nation (2012)
- Claire Bond Potter, “When Radical Feminism Talks Back: Taking an Ethnographic Turn in the Living Past” in Doing Recent History (2012)
Monday 4/17. Week Fourteen. Project demonstrations
Monday 4/24. Week Fifteen. Project demonstrations