Digital History: Theory and Practice Minor Field

Fall 2015

The minor field, Digital History: Theory and Practice, examined the field of digital history through both theory and practical application. It explored digitization, databases and searches, text analysis, data visualization, mapping, public history, crowdsourcing, digital scholarship and publication, copyright and open access, digital pedagogy, and programming theory. In addition to reading the relevant scholarship, this minor field also analyzed digital projects across these topics. Below is the syllabus of readings.

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Blog Posts

Humanities Computing and Big History

There were two main topics discussed this week: the argument over mathematical methods in Matthew Jocker’s Syuzhet package and humanities computing and the call for a return to the long duree of history and its relevance to public conversations in The History Manifesto. The Syuzhet debate centered on Matthew Jockers and Annie Swafford. Jockers created an … Continue reading Humanities Computing and Big History

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Mapping and Historical Analysis

The readings on mapping this week discussed many ideas and issues. Tim Cresswell’s Geographic Thought: A Critical Introduction, explains the history of geography as a discipline and the varying frameworks of geographical thought, including humanistic and Marxist geography. Various authors in The Spatial Humanities: GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship, such as Karen Kemp in … Continue reading Mapping and Historical Analysis

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Visualizations are powerful, and I had never understood how powerful until this week. They are not just a nice picture of the Columbian Exchange, or a family tree. Visualizations are arguments themselves, as Johanna Drucker asserts in Graphesis, and they do not sit passively on a printed or web page. Everything from their layout to … Continue reading Visualization

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Network Analysis

A network is a visualization of connections between entities, such as people or places. In Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning About a Highly Connected World, Easley and Kleinberg define networks as “a pattern of interconnections among a set of things,” explaining that networks are adaptable to any set of things and links, such as a … Continue reading Network Analysis

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Textual Analysis Hysteria

In the digital age, there exists an abundance of digitized sources. Text analysis deals with large corpora of sources and how to access this vast and mostly available historical record, from nineteenth-century British novels to Early American newspapers. Humanities scholars wishing to use these sources should know how to navigate this revolutionary digitization of material. … Continue reading Textual Analysis Hysteria

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Evaluating Digital Scholarship

This week’s readings covered numerous issues in digital scholarship. Similar to the on-going discussions on the definition of digital history, digital scholarship can take many forms. Trevor Owens outlined suggestions for digital exhibits and even games as scholarship. The digital scholarship must also simultaneously make an easily accessible and clear argument, as Edward Ayers points … Continue reading Evaluating Digital Scholarship

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Teaching Digital Humanities

This week’s readings on teaching digital history discussed many important themes. Two themes stood out particularly and go hand-in-hand: navigating the different technology backgrounds of today’s supposed “digital natives” and designing college and graduate-level courses that utilize digital media effectively to teach the content, the process of “doing history,” and the technology itself. Ryan Cordell’s … Continue reading Teaching Digital Humanities

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Digital Public History

This week’s readings on public history raised a number of issues, namely defining audience and the “public,” building and maintaining that community of users, and the ability of digital exhibits to promote access, to encourage historical research, and to preserve museums’ collections. The issue that stood out the most was one that Sheila Brennan argued on … Continue reading Digital Public History

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Databases and Audience

This week’s readings discussed the advantages and disadvantages of databases and searching in presenting and conducting historical research. One aspect of these web-based databases that intrigued me was the usability of the database’s interface and the intended audience. In his review of The French Book Trade Enlightenment in Europe, digital historian Sean Takats makes note … Continue reading Databases and Audience

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Crowdsourcing as Community Empowerment

A few weeks ago I came across The Library of Virginia’s Making History transcription project. Anyone with an internet connection can view digitized primary source documents from nineteenth-century African-American freedom suits to letters penned by Patrick Henry and transcribe them for public viewing. The project provides both a digital version of the document and the … Continue reading Crowdsourcing as Community Empowerment

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What is Digital History?

What is “Digital History”? Is it a field of study, a genre, a methodology, a promise? Can it be defined? What is it not? How can I, a young graduate student studying “Digital History,” succinctly define this minor field to future employers? How well does the title chosen for this minor field, “Digital History:Theory and … Continue reading What is Digital History?

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