HIST 7370: Texts, Maps, and Networks: Readings and Methods for Digital History

Fall 2022

Dan Cohen

d.cohen@northeastern.edu

Introduction to the Course

This course provides a panoramic examination of the impact of digital media and technology on the theory and practice of history. Topics include the construction of scholarly websites, tools, and apps on historical topics, how research methods and historiography are being transformed by the digitization of primary sources, and the significance for the discipline of new approaches such as text- and data-mining. Students will investigate the potential advantages and disadvantages of a variety of digital technologies and explore the use of those technologies through a series of exercises.

Assignments

1) It is expected that you will blog at least once a week on that week’s reading, a minimum of 300 words, on a website that you will create and maintain. (30% of the final grade)

Student blogs:

2) A midterm essay of 7-8 pages in length. Choose a historical topic that you are interested in. How would you go about finding digital sources for that topic, or digitizing new ones? What would having these sources in digital media help you to analyze, present, or discover? What would be the advantages and disadvantages to doing this kind of digital work versus more traditional methods? What ethical issues would you encounter, and how would you overcome them or at least minimize them? This first project is due before class on Oct. 12. (25%)

3) A final project in which you will more fully envision a work of digital historical scholarship. Such a work will explore the past in part using digital methods such as text mining, mapping, and/or network analyses. This second project, of 10-12 pages in length, including any visualizations, is due by 5pm on Dec. 12. (35%)

4) Preparedness and active participation in every seminar. Attendance without participation is equivalent to absence. (10%)

Requirements and Resources

This course uses readings and digital resources that are either completely open, or freely available to you as Northeastern students since the library licenses those materials. The only cost, should you choose that option, is to acquire your own domain and web host, which should cost less than $50.

Syllabus

Sept 7

Introduction

Sept 14

The Elusive Nature of New Media

Resources: Library of Congress Recommended Formats, Perma.cc, Documenting the Now, Internet Archive Wayback Machine, Chronicling America

Sept 21

What is Digital History?

Sept 28

The Uses and Abuses of Digitized Sources

Second half of the class, a practicum: Creating Websites with WordPress

Oct 5

Class will not meet (observance of Yom Kippur)

Oct 12

Theory and Application of Text Sources

Oct 19

Text practicum

Digital Integration Teaching Initiative visits class to discuss text tools

Explore and critique:

Oct 26

Theory and Application of Maps and Geospatial Data

Nov 2

Maps practicum

Digital Integration Teaching Initiative visits class to discuss mapping tools

Explore and critique:

Nov 9

Theory and Application of Networks and Other Visualizations of Data

Nov 16

Networks and Visualizations Practicum

Explore and critique:

Nov 23

No class, Thanksgiving break

Dec 7

Presentations of Student Projects

Additional Resources

Programming Historian has nearly 100 lessons on more advanced techniques in digital history. These generally involve using at least modest coding.