New technologies are transforming the work of historians, and the ways in which we interpret the past and communicate our ideas with others. This seminar will critically examine the digital tools and resources that are becoming central to historical research, from databases to archives, and their implications for how topics, questions and standards for evidence are framed. We will also explore how digital tools, including visualizations, animations, and mapping, have been used to interpret the past, and the new forms of historical writing that have emerged, such as blogs and wikis, and the questions they raise about the creators of historical work, the nature of historical arguments and the processes by which digital history is distributed and evaluated.
The thirteen week semester is divided into three pairs of seminars on the nature and promise of the digital medium, on digital research, and on digital archives, and then three seminars each on digital writing (articles, blogs and Wikipedia) and on digital history (exhibits, text mining and mapping and the geospatial).
A required weekly blog post that aims to encourage students develop their own perspective on the issues raised by each week’s readings by completing a hands-on exercise or answering a question about how their Honours thesis topic has been dealt with by that aspect of digital history. The blog posts are also preliminary work for the essay, which is an analysis of how the student’s thesis topic has been approached in digital history. Students can choose to survey the overall treatment of the topic or focus on its treatment in a particular form of digital history.