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Digital History
COL 370
Spring 2014
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: HIST 211

This course is an introduction and critical examination of the emerging field of digital history. Digital history is related to the new and vibrant filed of digital humanities, which has taken the academy by storm. The term "digital humanities" (DH) refers to the application of computing techniques to traditional humanities disciplines. This new field has implications for teaching and research, as well as for the presentation of cultural artifacts to the scholarly and general public. Digital humanists employ a wide-ranging set of techniques from text and data-mining to network analysis, topic modeling and 3D visualizations and animation. DH is also a highly collaborative field, and has sponsored far-flung interactions among scholars and students from disciplines that have traditionally been relatively isolated from one another.
Narrowing some of the broad questions raised by digital humanists, this course will take a disciplinary focus and will examine traditional questions pertinent to historical study, and ask how or whether they have been reconfigured by new media and new applications of computing power. How do we evaluate truth claims in this new environment? Does the change in the mode of historical representation also change the types of questions and research we do? Has the web flattened the differences between public and scholarly history (and do these distinctions make sense)? How do digital tools enable new approaches to traditional fields such as scholarly editing?
The course will have a theoretical and practical side. We will explore readings on the promises and perils of digital techniques for historical practice, look at earlier embraces of technology in the historical sciences, and think through the relationship between historical research and historical representation. We will also briefly explore the history of computing and the Internet as it pertains to scholarly research and communication as well as public history. Students will explore and evaluate websites, tools, and other digital resources.
On the practical side, we will experiment with text-mining tools such as Voyant, Mallet, GIS, and n-grams in order to assess their usefulness in the analysis of historical document and corpora. We will look at online presentation and cataloging environments--particularly Omeka--to explore how these new tools may or may not change the way we represent the past. Students will work closely with resources in Wesleyan's Special Collections and Archives for hands-on experience with digital editing and presentation.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA COL
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Student Option
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None
Past Enrollment Probability: 90% or above

Last Updated on APR-24-2014
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