2018 79775 – Doing Digital History

Dr. Jessica Otis
Class: Baker 246A, M 1:30-4:30
Office Hours: Hunt Library 302, W 10-11am & by appt. or Hunt Library Studio B, W 12:30-2:45pm

Course Description:

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 practical 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.

Honor Code:

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 http://www.cmu.edu/academic-integrity/


Because many of this course’s activities will require you to have an active 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 (on the internet, no one knows if you have a PhD!), your privacy and security is a higher priority than any particular course activity.

If you have learning needs and have been evaluated or are in the process of being evaluated by the Office of Disability Resources, 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.

Physical Books:

  • Constance Crompton, Richard J. Lane, Ray Siemens, eds. Doing Digital Humanities (DDH) (Routledge, 2016).
  • Claire Battershill and Shawna Ross, Using Digital Humanities in the Classroom (Bloomsbury, 2017).

Requirements and Grading:

Class attendance is mandatory, however students may be excused for family emergencies and extreme illness. If students need to miss class for another unavoidable conflict (such as athletic conflicts or military service), they should notify me beforehand, preferably in the first week of the semester.

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.

Students will write weekly blog posts (ca. 500-1000 words) reflecting on the week’s readings, discussion, and technical assignments.

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 Schedule, To Be Finalized in First Class Meeting:

Jan. 22 – Defining Digital Scholarship, Digital Humanities, and Digital History

Jan. 29 – Managing Your Projects and Your Professional Portfolio

Feb. 5 – Building Blocks: Data, Metadata, and Databases

Feb. 12 – Text Analysis

Feb. 19 – Networks and Ontologies

Project Environmental Survey Due

Feb. 26 – Spatial History

  • Ian Gregory and Patricia Murrieta-Flores, “Geographical information systems as a tool for exploring the spatial humanities”, DDH 177-192.
  • Ian Gregory and Paul Ell, “Using GIS to visualise historical data,” on Canvas.
  • Ian Gregory and Paul Ell, “GIS and quanitative spatial analysis,” on Canvas.
  • Anne Kelly Knowles, “A Cutting Edge Second Look at the Battle of Gettysburg,” June 2013.

Saturday, Mar. 3 – Pittsburgh Mapping and GIS THATCamp (optional)

Mar. 5 – Coding and Encoding

Project Work Plan Due

Mar. 12 – spring break

Mar. 19 – class cancelled

Mar. 26 – Digital Exhibits, Public Humanities, and Diversity and Bias in a Digital World

Apr. 2 – DH and Pedagogy I: Introduction

  • Claire Battershill & Shawna Ross, Using Digital Humanities in the Classroom.

Apr. 9 – DH and Pedagogy III: Teaching With Crowdsourcing and Wikis

  • Wikipedia Training Modules: Wikipedia Essentials, Editing Basics, Evaluating Articles and Sources, Sources and Citations, Plagiarism and Copyright Violation
  • Browse one of the Zooniverse humanities/transcription projects
  • Examine model classroom assignments, on Canvas

Apr. 16 – DH and Pedagogy II: Designing Your Own DH Assignments

Apr. 23 – The Future of Digital History

Apr. 30 – Project Presentations

Friday, May 11 – final projects due