This course is my version of HIST 696, the first of the two digital history courses required of all PhD students at GMU. I was introduced to this course during my first stint at GMU in 1998-99, one of the first years that Roy taught it (coincidentally, the oldest surveying syllabus is from that year). I used Roy’s course as the basis of my first digital history course, American History on the World Wide Web, taught at the University of Sydney over two semesters in 2002 (described in “Doing History in Hypertext,” Journal of the Association for History and Computing 7, 2 (August 2004)).
This version is, unsurprisingly, quite different. Mills Kelly outlined the shape of those changes in a post last Fall, noting how dramatically different the version of HIST696 he taught in 2013 was from the last time he taught the course, in 2005: an introduction to digital history now extends beyond a focus on history on the web to incorporate a range of tools and methods. My approach differs slightly from other current iterations of the course in beginning with attention to the building blocks of digital history – digitization and databases — before going on to survey the tools and topics that constitute the field and its methods. I’m also still looking for ways to integrate the exploration of hypertext that formed the central concern of the early iterations of Clio Wired, and offers still largely untapped possibilities for developing non-linear forms of historical scholarship.
In addition, for the first time, I am requiring all students to sign up for a domain at Reclaim Hosting. At $25 a year the cost is that of a modest textbook (and I don’t assign any textbooks in this course, as all the readings I use are available online), and Reclaim has made managing the domain very straightforward, including offering one-click installation of WordPress and Omeka, and providing truly remarkable customer support. My aim is not only that the domain will provide a home for the course blog and Omeka site that students create as part of this course (and the website they design and build in the second course in the sequence, in the Spring), but also serve as a central location for the blogging and other work that students will undertake as part of their graduate training — a portfolio — and the basis for a professional web presence that extends beyond those studies.