Dr. Jessica Otis
Class: Innovation 336, M 7:20-10pm
Office Hours: Research 463, M 4-6pm & by appointment
Digital history encompasses a wide variety of computationally-assisted historical scholarship methods, tools, and publications. As with the larger digital humanities community of practice, it is often–but not always–associated with an ethos of collaborative, iterative, open, and/or public-facing scholarship. This course will introduce the rapidly evolving field of digital history with the goal of enabling students to incorporate digital history into both their current research agendas and their future teaching experiences. Students will learn how to use and critique digital methods; assess and employ digital tools; evaluate the merits and pitfalls of digitally publishing various forms of scholarship; and generally navigate this digital research environment.
By putting your name on your assignments, you are acknowledging the integrity of your work. If you have any questions about academic integrity, please either consult with me or go to https://oai.gmu.edu/mason-honor-code/
If you have learning needs and have been evaluated or are in the process of being evaluated by Mason’s Disability Services (http://ds.gmu.edu), please let me know so that I may make certain you are receiving the support you need.
Should you require other accommodations during the semester, particularly if it involves obtaining access to the necessary technology to perform your coursework, please contact me as soon as you are aware of the issue.
Privacy and Safety:
Students must use their MasonLive email account to receive important University information, including communications related to this class.
Because many of this course’s activities will require you to have an internet presence, please contact me immediately if you have privacy concerns or experience online harassment doing class activities during the course of this semester. Aliases may be an appropriate solution and/or alternative activities may be substituted for required course activities, as necessary. While I believe that your education will benefit from your participation in the online digital history community, your privacy and security is a higher priority than any particular course activity.
My goal is to create a supportive learning environment for students with diverse backgrounds and lived experiences. As such, I fully support the Mason Diversity Statement.
As a faculty member, I am designated as a “Responsible Employee,” and must report all disclosures of sexual assault, interpersonal violence, and stalking to Mason’s Title IX Coordinator per University Policy. If you wish to speak with someone confidentially, please contact one of Mason’s confidential resources, such as Student Support and Advocacy Center (SSAC) at 703-993-3686 or Counseling and Psychology Services (CAPS) at 703-993-2380. The 24-hour Sexual and Intimate Partner Violence Crisis Line for Mason is 703-380-1434.
You may also seek assistance from Mason’s Title IX Coordinator by calling 703-993-8730 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Required Course Books and Expenses:
- Constance Crompton, Richard J. Lane, and Ray Siemens, eds. Doing Digital Humanities (DDH) (Routledge, 2016).
Optional Course Books and Expenses:
- Reclaim Hosting (https://reclaimhosting.com/shared-hosting/) personal website plan or sign up for a free WordPress plan through http://www.wordpress.com
- Safiya Umoja Noble, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (NYU Press, 2018) or watch Safiya Noble’s 2015 Digital Library Federation keynote (linked below)
Requirements and Grading:
Readings, as well as detailed instructions for assignments and projects, will be posted on the course website. As many of these readings and assignments are web-based, students should have a device capable of connecting to the internet that they can bring to class. On occasions, a laptop (rather than a tablet, e-reader, smartphone, or other device) will be necessary to run specific websites or software.
Grades for the course will be based upon the following:
- Course Participation: 30%
- Weekly Blog Posts: 30%
- Project Environmental Survey: 10%
- Project Work Plan: 10%
- Project Presentation: 10%
- Final Project: 10%
Class attendance is counted as part of the course participation grade, however students will be excused for family emergencies, serious illness, and weather-related transportation difficulties provided they notify me by email in a timely manner.
Students will write weekly blog posts (ca. 500-1000 words) reflecting on the week’s readings, discussion, and technical assignments. These will be due every Thursday night. Students will then have until Sunday night to comment on a minimum of three other students’ blog posts. Late work will be accepted but will cost a 1/3 of a letter grade per day.
Class projects will be done in small teams and are due in stages throughout the semester. These projects will be graded on a combination of effort, process, and self-reflective writing. In other words: don’t be afraid of breaking things and failing to accomplish a specific technical task as long as you work hard, can explain what you’ve done, and learn something new along the way.
In addition to consulting with me during office hours, students can receive technical assistance at the Digital Scholarship Center (https://dsc.gmu.edu/) in the University Libraries.
Tutorials can also be found on the Programming Historian at http://programminghistorian.org
Class Schedule, Topics To Be Finalized in First Class Meeting:
Aug. 27 – Course Introduction and Technical Groundwork
- Douglas Seefeldt and William G. Thomas, “What is Digital History,” May 2009
- browse the 2017 AHA program digital history sessions
- browse the AHA’s Teaching with #DigHist blog posts
- Miriam Posner, “Creating Your Web Presence: A Primer for Academics,” February 2011.
- Google search yourself and set to private any existing social media you don’t want public
In-class activity: set up a WordPress instance through Reclaim Hosting (instructions can be found here) and begin creating a website for your class blog and academic portfolio (Lynda.com WordPress tutorial)
Sept. 3 – Labor Day, no class
Sept. 10 – Digitization, Data, and Databases
- Robin Davies and Michael Nixon, “Digitization fundamentals,” DDH p. 163-176.
- Jonathan Blaney and Judith Siefring, “A Culture of non-citation: Assessing the digital impact of British History Online and the Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership,” DHQ 11.1 (2017).
- Christof Schoch, “Big? Smart? Clean? Messy? Data in the Humanities,” Journal of Digital Humanities 2.3 (2013).
- James Baker, “Preserving Your Research Data,” Programming Historian (2014).
- Harvey Quamen and Jon Bath, “Databases,” DDH p. 145-162.
- explore the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database
Sept. 17 –Spatial History, Mapping, and GIS
- Ian Gregory and Patricia Murrieta-Flores, “Geographical information systems as a tool for exploring the spatial humanities”, DDH p. 177-192.
- Daniele Salvoldi, “A Historical Geographical Information System (HGIS) of Nubia Based on the William J. Bankes Archive (1815-1822),” DHQ 11.2 (2017).
- Ian Gregory and Paul Ell, “Using GIS to visualise historical data,” on course reserve
- Anne Kelly Knowles, “A Cutting Edge Second Look at the Battle of Gettysburg,” (2013).
- explore BombSight and Orbis and the Pleiades gazetteer
Sept. 24 – Networks and Ontologies
- Scott Weingart, “Demystifying Networks, Parts I & II” (2011).
- Ruth Ahnert and Sebastian E. Ahnert, “Protestant Letter Networks in the Reign of Mary I: A Quantitative Approach,” ELH 82.1 (2015), available via Project MUSE
- Matthew Lincoln, “DH2015: Modelling the (Inter)national Printmaking Networks of Early Modern Europe” (2015).
- (if you’re having trouble going back and forth between the slides and the talk notes, he gave a similar talk at Keystone DH but his posted speaking notes are interspersed with the slide visuals)
- explore Six Degrees of Francis Bacon and Linked Jazz
Oct. 1 – Digital Exhibits and Copyright
- Aaron McCollough, “Copyright Basics” (2018), including the embedded video
- Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen, “Open Access Explained!” June 2015.
- explore the Valley of the Shadow, the Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project, and TheClio
- Project Environmental Survey Due
Oct. 8 – Fall Break, per the university calendar, class to be held Tuesday instead
Oct. 9 – Digital Storytelling and Digital Games
- Eric Eve, “All Hope Abandon: Biblical Text and Interactive Fiction,” DHQ 1:2 (2007).
- William Carroll, “Camden Station and the Great Railroad Strike of 1877,” 2013.
- Ed Ayers, et al, “A More Perfect Union? The Reconstruction Era,” BackStory, 2018.
- explore the free chapter(s) of Kate Heartfield, “The Road to Canterbury.”
- explore the prototype of “Pox and the City“
Note: enough of you were interested in Digital Storytelling that I want to point out UMW’s “open course” on Digital Storytelling, if you want to dive deeper into this.
Oct. 15 – Data Visualization, Interfaces, and Design Basics
- Iwe Everhardus Christiaan Muiser, et al, “Supporting the Exploration of Online Cultural Heritage Collections: The Case of the Dutch Folktale Database,” DHQ 11.4 (2017).
- Eric Hoyt, et al. “Visualizing and Analyzing the Hollywood Screenplay with ScripThreads,” DHQ 8.4 (2014).
- Jon Kolko, “Design Thinking Comes of Age” (2015).
- Project Work Plan Due
Oct. 22 – Ethics, Biases, and Diversity in a Digital World
- Michelle Moravec, “What would you do? Historians’ ethics and digitized archives,” 2016.
- Robyn Caplan, et al, “Algorithmic Accountability: A Primer,” 2018.
- Safiya Noble, “Power, Privilege, and the Imperative to Act,” 2015 (start ~ min 26).
- or Safiya Noble, Algorithms of Oppression.
- Alex Gil and Elika Ortega, “Global oulooks in digital humanities: multilingual practices and minimal computing,” DDH 22-34.
- Jacqueline Wernimont and Elizabeth Losh, “Problems with white feminiism: intersectionality and digital humanities,” DDH 35-46.
Oct. 29 –DH and Pedagogy I: Introduction
- Claire Battershill & Shawna Ross, Using Digital Humanities in the Classroom.
Nov. 5 – DH and Pedagogy II: Teaching with Crowdsourcing and Wikis
- Wikipedia Training Modules:
- 5 Basic modules (Policies, Sandboxes, How to Edit, Evaluating, Finding)
- Adding Citations, Plagiarism and Copyright Violation
- Shannon Kelley, “Getting on the Map: A Case Study in Digital Pedagogy and Undergraduate Crowdsourcing,” DHQ 11.3 (2017).
- explore at least two of the Zooniverse humanities/transcription projects
Nov. 12 – DH and Pedagogy III: Designing Your Own DH Assignments
- Diane Jakacki and Katherine Faull, “Doing DH in the classroom: transforming the humanities curriculum through digital engagement,” DDH 358-372.
- Aaron Mauro, “Digital liberal arts and project-based pedagogies,” DDH, 373-383.
- Kalani Craig, et al., “Correcting for Presentism in Student Reading of Historical Accounts Through Digital-History Methodologies,” (2017).
Nov. 19 – The Past, Present, and Future of Digital History
- Julianne Nyhan and Andrew Flinn, “Introduction,” in Computation and the Humanities: Towards and Oral History of Digital Humanities (Springer, 2016), 1-19.
- Roopika Risam, “Beyond the Margins: Intersectionality and the Digital Humanities,” DHQ 9.2 (2015).
- Katrina Anderson, et al. “Student Labour and Training in Digital Humanities,” DHQ 10.1 (2016).
- Susan Brown, “Towards best practices in collaborative online knowledge production,” DDH 47-64.