History 9808A: Digital History (2015)

Course Blogroll 

Course Podcast


This course introduces students to the theory and practice of digital techniques for public history. It explores methods of presenting, communicating, researching, and reconstructing history with digital technology in ways that deepen the public understanding of the past, and foster the inculcation of historical thinking skills. Digital techniques can preserve the past and make it more accessible, but it can also challenge authoritative narratives and complicate our experience of history in surprisingly subversive ways.

History 9808 is designed for students in the Public History MA program, but others can enroll with the instructor’s permission.

Blogging: 30%
Participation: 20%
Podcast: 15%
Project: 35%

Blogging: 30%. Blogging and other forms of social media engagement play an important role in this course. This is a vital skill for public historians to become comfortable with and master. Students should blog and tweet about their work, their thoughts on digital and public history, and other aspects of their professional development. Blogs will be discussed in class each week.

Podcasting: 15%. Each student is required to lead and upload a podcast. The format – documentary style, essay, or free flowing discussion – is up to the individual student. More details will be provided in class.

Participation: 20%. Students should be prepared to actively participate in class discussions.

Project: 35%. There are a variety of potential assignments students can complete, such as digital landscaping, 3D modelling, visualization projects, website creation, game design etc. Details and options will be explored in class, but students are also encouraged to consider designing their own assignments. Because students will begin the course with varied levels of experience, evaluation will be based on student willingness to engage with the technology and how much they learn, and not necessarily on technical proficiency and attainment.  Students must submit a proposal outlining the project and the digital tools they propose to use. There will also be a short/informal presentation on Nov. 30.

A 8-10 page reflection paper (ca. 2000 words) must accompany the final product on Dec. 7. Details to be discussed in class.

Weekly Seminars: Readings and other resource material will be linked from a class website. Below is a tentative schedule of weekly discussion topics, but in keeping with the fluid nature of digital humanities, they can change to meet student interests.

Optional recommended readings: Hal Abelson, Ken Ledeen & Harry Lewis. Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and
Happiness after the Digital Explosion. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Addison–
Wesley, 2008.
Daniel J. Cohen & Roy Rosenzweig. Digital History: A Guide to Gathering,
Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web. Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania, 2005.


Sept. 14: Introduction: What is Digital (Public) History? Visit to the Fabrication Lab.
Sept. 21:Knowing your Digital Audience(s): Blogs, “Creepy Treehouses,” and Podcasts.
Sept. 28: Digital Preservation and Sharing
Oct. 5: Digital History Games
Oct. 12 – Thanksgiving Holiday. No Class.
Oct. 19: 3D Printing, Scanning, and Reproduction. Special Visit to the Sustainable Archaeology Facility. Proposals due.
Oct. 26: Augmented Reality
Nov. 2: Spatial History
Nov. 9: Mapping the Past
Nov. 16: Visual History (Guest Lecturer, Oliver Charbonneau)
Nov. 23: Physical Computing (Guest Lecturer, Devon Elliot)
Nov. 30: Presentations – Fine-tuning projects.
Dec. 7: Assignments Due