Category: History

Digital Humanities at the 2012 American Historical Association Annual Meeting

Longtime subscribers to this blog know that I’ve been grousing for years about the lack of digital topics at the American Historical Association annual meeting. From today’s announcement about the 2012 meeting in Chicago:

The AHA’s 126th Annual Meeting in Chicago this January 5-8, 2012, will feature nearly two dozen sessions on digital history. This series, titled The Future is Here, includes presentations, discussions, and demonstrations of how digital methods might assist historical research and the humanities in general.

Fantastic. I was on the program committee this year, but this was really a group effort: the committee chairs (Jake Soll, Jennifer Siegel), the entire program committee, the president of the AHA (Anthony Grafton), and the AHA itself (especially executive director Jim Grossman) were all committed to providing more of a platform for new, digital work. And as you can see from the program, we were fortunate that many innovative scholars and projects decided to present in Chicago.

Hope to see you there.

Digital History at the 2011 AHA Meeting

It’s time for my annual report/rant on the lack digital sessions at the American Historical Association annual meeting, a good gauge of what professional historians are interested in. Evidently we historians will just keep on doing what we’re doing how we’re doing it until it seems truly anachronistic. Just one of the main AHA panels, out of nearly three hundred, covers digital matters; perhaps another will touch on digital methods. By my count there are another six digital sessions overall, but these other sessions are put on by affiliate societies or were added by the program committee during lunches or other break times (that is, there were almost no digital panels proposed by historians attending the meeting). Incredibly, there are actually fewer digital sessions at the 2011 annual meeting than in prior years. Because clearly this digital thing is a flash in the pan.

OK, I’ll stop with the sarcasm. I love my colleagues in history, but it’s time for a change, and as a new member of the AHA program committee I suspect the state of affairs will be different at the 2012 meeting. For now, here is this year’s list of digital sessions at the AHA annual meeting:

When Universities Put Dissertations on the Internet: New Practice; New Problem?
[Special session added by the program committee during lunch on Friday]

Critical Issues in Bibliography and Libraries in the Digital Age
[Sponsored by the Association for the Bibliography of History and the American Association for History and Computing]

Digital Tools for Teaching and Learning American History
[CHNM‘s own Rwany Sibaja hosts a 45-minute intro/demo]

Public Media and the Case for Digital History: New Directions and Opportunities for Students, Teachers, and Historians
[Special session added by the program committee during lunch on Saturday]

What’s Next? Patterns and Practices in History in Print and Online
[AHA Session 191, co-sponsored by the American Association for History and Computing]

History and Technology In and Out of the Classroom
[Sponsored by the Coordinating Council for Women in History]

Religious History’s Digital Future
[Sponsored by the American Society of Church History]

Enhancing Historical Thinking Skills Through Teaching American History Grants
[AHA Session 269]

The Last Digit of Pi – Video of My TEDxNYED Talk and Live Discussion

Here’s the video of my talk “The Last Digit of Pi,” given in New York City on March 6, 2010, at TEDxNYED. I’ll be discussing it live on Friday, May 7, at 3p EDT, on Twitter (follow me there or use the hashtag #tedxnyed to join in the discussion).


Digital Humanities Sessions at the 2010 AHA Meeting

Out of hundreds of sessions at the 2010 American Historical Association annual meeting, nine are on digital matters. Nine. I’m on one-third of the sessions. It’s 2010, and academic historians seem to feel that digital media and technology are not worth discussing, and that we can just go on doing what we’ve done, how we’ve done it, for another hundred years. For comparison, the 2009 MLA has three times as many digital humanities panels.

Anyway, the digital sessions (hope to see you there):

Is Google Good for History?

Crossing the Electronic Rubicon: Navigating the Challenges and Opportunities Presented by Archival Records Created and Stored Exclusively in Digital Format

Teaching Sourcing by Bridging Digital Libraries and Electronic Student Assignments

Humanities in the Digital Age, Part 1: Humanities in the Digital Age, Part 1: Digital Poster Session

Humanities in the Digital Age, Part 2: A Hands-On Workshop

Scholarly Publishing and e-Journals

What Becomes of Print in the Digital Age?

Assessing Resources: Analysis and Comment on EDSITEment Lessons in the High School and Undergraduate Classrooms

American Religious Historians Online

Frontiers in Digital History Conference

From the announcement from the American Association for History and Computing (AAHC):

Frontiers in Digital History
2009 Annual Conference
April 3–5, 2009
George Mason University

What frontiers in digital history are we only beginning to explore, or have yet to explore? What promising but under-utilized tools, techniques, and ideas exist in digital media that can help us do better history? Join the American Association for History and Computing for a lively discussion about the frontiers in doing history with digital media. This conference will be of interest to anyone charting new territory in digital history—both online and in the academic and public worlds—including museum professionals, archivists, librarians, historic preservationists, IT professionals, filmmakers, and academic historians.

Suggested topics for proposals include (but are not limited to):

* Museums and exhibits
* Aggregating history
* Web 2.0 exhibits and archives
* Designing and developing digital history
* Teaching digital history
* Visualizing the past
* Networked Research

The conference committee encourages participants to go beyond theory and into the realm of practice through a variety of presentation formats, including:

* Project Demonstrations and prototypes
* Paper Presentations
* Roundtable Discussions
* Workshops

More information is on the AAHC website. The president of the AAHC is the Center for History and New Media‘s Creative Lead, Jeremy Boggs. I’m sure this will be a great conference, so be sure to put in a proposal if you’re interested.

Virtual Museum of the Gulag Seized

Depressing and not getting enough notice: masked police recently raided the office of the Russian human rights group Memorial, which has been digitally cataloguing the artifacts and names of those affected by the Soviet Gulag. The police took drives containing biographical information on more than 50,000 victims of Stalinist repression and over 10,000 digital photographs, among other unique archival documents. We worked with Memorial on our Gulag history project. (Thanks to Elena Razlogova for bringing this to my attention.)

Journal of American History Begins Podcasting

Kudos to the Journal of American History for their launch this week of a podcast. In the inaugural “JAHcast,” John Nieto-Phillips speaks with James Meriwether about his article, “Worth a Lot of Negro Votes’: Black Voters, Africa, and the 1960 Presidential Campaign.” The podcast is put together well. It has relatively good sound quality (always critical for podcasts; bad sound quality repels audiences faster than bad web design), it’s open access (anyone can subscribe via iTunes), and most of all, it contains interesting subject matter for our times.

You will be unsurprised to hear (given a certain other podcast) that I think more scholarly journals and organizations should be podcasting like this. It’s a great way to build an audience and add context to print publications. It would be great for the JAH to add other kinds of podcasts, such as panels from the annual meeting and wider-ranging discussions or debates (rather than focusing on a single article). But a great first step.

Digital Humanities and the Disciplines

On Thursday and Friday, October 2-3, 2008 (that is, starting tomorrow, if you’re reading this immediately from my feed) I’ll be at Rutgers University for the conference “Digital Humanities and the Disciplines,” sponsored by the Center for Cultural Analysis. If you’re in the area, please stop by—the conference is open to the public. If I can find some wifi I’ll also do my best to blog the conference and send brief updates via my Twitter feed (which I’ve been neglecting lately; sorry, been a little busy).

The Promise of Digital History

Back in January of this year I mentioned in this space that I was participating in an online discussion on digital history for the Journal of American History. That discussion has just been published in the September 2008 issue under the title “The Promise of Digital History.” The discussion ended up being extremely wide-ranging, including research possibilities in the digital age, the future of scholarly communication, training, and teaching. I’m obviously biased since I’m one of the interlocutors, but I believe the article is the perfect introduction to digital history for those who are new to the subject, and it also includes some important debates about where the field is headed. The article is available online at the History Cooperative, which is, alas, gated. Open access is another topic discussed in the article; I hope the JAH will make the article freely available soon.

Many thanks to the seven other digital historians—Bill Turkel, Will Thomas, Amy Murrell Taylor, Patrick Gallagher, Michael Frisch, Kristen Sword, and Steven Mintz—who participated in such a lively exchange!

Gulag History Site Launches

I’m delighted to announce the Center for History and New Media‘s launch of Gulag: Many Days, Many Lives, a comprehensive and compelling new website exploring the history of the Soviet Gulag. The project is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities; Title VIII, The U.S. Department of State; the Kennan Institute; and the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University; and was produced in association with the Gulag Museum at Perm 36, Perm, Russia and the International Memorial Society, Moscow.

The bilingual (English/Russian) site is a powerful combination of primary documents and photographs, documentary video, and contextualization (including from George Mason’s expert on Soviet history, Steve Barnes). It also includes a rich archive and a podcast series.

The site also shows the ease and flexibility of CHNM’s Omeka, software to manage collections and create web exhibits.

Congratulations to the entire team that built the site!