Course Schedule

Tentative Course Lecture/Discussion and Reading Schedule.
All students are expected to have completed weekly reading assignments by Tuesday’s class unless indicated otherwise

Week 1
W 1/22 Introductions Syllabus Getting Started with

Week 2
M 1/27

What is Digital History? What are the Digital Humanities?  How are the two different?
Digital Workshop – Posting to our blog

Read before class
(Be sure that you are marking up our readings on before class starts):

Cohen & Rosenzweig, Digital History, Introduction,Ch. 1;
Video (Youtube) Information R/evolution;
Seefeldt & Thomas, What is Digital History?;
Wikipedia definitions of Digital History & Digital Humanities
How do digital humanities practitioners define their craft?
Lincoln Mullen “Computational Historical Thinking” Introduction
Baker “The Soft Digital History that Underpins my Book.”
Baker “The Hard Digital History that Underpins my Book”
Digital Humanities: The Expanded Field from Debates in the Digital Humanities

After class Assignment:
Log in to and publish a first blog post on who you are and why you’re taking the class.

Start a professional network. Set up a Twitter account that we can call this your professional twitter account (either use an old one that you think is appropriate for professional discussions or start a new account). Post your twitter handle to the class blog. Then follow me (@seansmithcsulb), a few or all of your classmates and some of the scholars from the DH Compendium. Or you can search twitter for the hashtag #twitterstorians Then tweet something about our class using the hashtag #hist305csulb

W 1/29
Discussion: Exploring Other Digital History Projects

Read before class (Be sure that you are marking up our readings on before class starts):

Cohen & Rosenzweig, Digital HistoryChapter 2Chapter 4
Check out at least four of the following websites (including at least one Omeka site):  Valley of the Shadow, French RevolutionThe Emancipation ProjectGilded Age MurderOmeka-based sites. Map Scholar; University of Houston’s Digital History site; Emile Davis Diaries; several sites at the Digital Scholarship LabMapping the Republic of LettersVirtual Paul’s Cross ProjectTrans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.


Blog about: 1) some creative uses of Omeka and the other projects we’ve reviewed so far. How do you imagine using Omeka? How could a WordPress or other blog software be used for Digital History? How might you use these tools in combination with each other or with others you’ve used outside of class. (Be creative with your ideas here.) Then reflect on 2) Based on your review of the Digital History websites above: Think about what you like about these websites as a whole, and what you don’t.  What works and what does not? Why? For those sites that you didn’t like or understand, how could you make them better? As you think about these questions try to link your answers to the readings.

Week 3
M 2/3

Discussion: Digital Archives and Digitizing Sources

Reading before class (Be sure that you are marking up our readings on before class starts): Cohen & Rosenzweig, Digital HistoryChapter 3Chapter 6;
Flanders and Muñoz, “What is data curation?”
Fenlon, Jett, and Palmer, “Digital Collections and Aggregation”
Grotke, “Collaborating to Identify Government or Election-Related Websites to Preserve”
Lavoie and Dempsey, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at. . .Digital Preservation”

Ashenfelder,“One Family’s Personal Digital Archive Project”

Check out at least four of the following websites: Hurricane Digital Memory BankSeptember 11 Digital ArchiveFootnote.comInternet ArchiveA House Divided: America in the Age of LincolnFamous Law trialsCriminal Intent; PhotogrammarMapping DuBoisHull House and Neighborhoods.

Resources/Further Reading:
For more information on the nuts-and-bolts process of digitization, see

For more on spatial history, see


Blog about: 1. What is the difference among the practices of preserving, curating, and aggregating data?  What are the challenges of each of these practices? 2. What are some of the tensions present in digital archiving?  (For example, “openness and access vs. intellectual property rights”) How are these tensions being addressed, and how, if at all, might they be resolved? Can you point to specific examples of these tensions in the Archive links I provided in the readings? 3. How would you go about digitally preserving or documenting your family history? How much would you share, and where/how would you share it? How would you determine what to keep private, if anything? How would you organize the information? How much would you curate the collection?  (For example, would you just put up a searchable database of the digital objects, or would you create finding aids, set up browsable categories, or write an essay that provides an overview of the collection?) Would you make it easy for other people to contribute to the collection, or would it be a closed collection (limited to your own objects)?  How would you determine what objects, people, or topics belonged in the collection and what did not? 4. Knowing that archivists’ time and preservation resources aren’t unlimited, what criteria should an archivist use to determine which materials or websites should be preserved? In what form should those websites be preserved, and through what interface should they be made findable by researchers and others?

W 2/5
Digital Workshop – Crafting our own archive: Omeka

 Read before class(Be sure that you are marking up our readings on before class starts):Miriam Posner, “Up and Running with,”  and “Creating an Exhibit,” The Programming Historian, 2
Tony Grafton, “Future Reading,” New Yorker, Nov. 5, 2007;
Kate Theimer, The role of “the professional discipline” in archives and digital archives, Feb. 17, 2014.

To learn Omeka we’re building an archive of items related to California Surf Culture in the 1940s -1980s ( Each student will bring to class 5 related items (some digital item related to surfing or surf culture), and the group will build collections (based on the items each of you’ve brought), and then we’ll build an exhibit (with a 500-word essay on the items) in the archive.

Assignment: In-class will put together the collections. This project will continue at home where you’ll complete the collections and work to build the exhibit.

Week 4 Visualizing Historic Data
MW 2/10 – 2/12
Digital Workshop – Mapping, Timeline and Google Tools

Readings before class: Introduction to Google Maps and it’s historical uses

review storymapjs
Create Timelines with Open-Source Tools
Nathan Yau, Visualize This (Chapter 1, “Telling Stories with Data”)
Patricia Cohen, “Analyzing Literature by Words and Numbers”
Nicholas Carr, Is Google Making Us Stupid? (2008)
Dan Cohen, “From Babel to Knowledge”
William Turkel, “Searching for History,” Digital History Hacks (12 Oct 2006)
Cohen, Google Books, Ngrams and CulturomicsMining the Dispatch
Megan Brett, “Topic Modeling: A Basic Introduction,” Journal of Digital Humanities, 2012

In-class assignment workshop:

Group: Build and construct a map tracing the movements of a favorite historic figure, or event. Embed it into our class blog and tell us what conclusion can be drawn from your map.

Group: Build a timeline with at least 10 related events from a single historical movement, event or person’s life.  Embed the timeline on to our blog and tell us why timelines with visual data are valuable historic information tools.

Individual: Using Ngram Viewer post a screen shot of your NGram to the blog and write a 300-word post below your graph about what the graph and your research tell you about your words over time and what historical conclusions we can draw from that information. Include information about the settings you selected and what difference those settings make.

Individual: Using a Google Fusion table come up with 10 historical things that are somehow related (hit songs of the 1980s, Oscar winning films, athletes, best selling books of the 1930s, etc..) that have a name, an image you can associate with it, some form of numerical data, a characteristic shared by some but not all items, and a location. Build a Google Fusion table with this information and express the data in a “default card,” pie chart, bar chart and a network visualization.

Individual: Blog about the experience and about how you might use this in your project or in any history driven paper.

Week 5
M 2/17

Copyright and Wikipedia: What’s the Big Deal?

Read before class (Be sure that you are marking up our readings on before class starts):
Cohen & Rosenzweig, Digital History, Ch.7;
Understanding Creative Commons;
Stanford’s guide to fair use;
Should University Students Use Wikipedia
Jimmy Wales (2005) How a Ragtag Band Created Wikipedia (watch at
Wolff, Writing History in the Digital Age, “The Historian’s Craft, Popular Memory, and Wikipedia”
Graham, Massie, and Feuerherm, Writing History in the Digital Age, “The HeritageCrowd Project: A Case in Crowdsourcing Public History”
Other resources: Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video
2007 documentary on copyright (and music and video remixing)
30+ places to find Creative Commons media
ProfHacker post on Google Images and usable works.

AssignmentLook at the History and Discussion tabs of your favorite history subject on Wikipedia. Is this work valuable or valid history, how does the crowdsourcing of history change it’s meaning, what role does Wikipedia’s terms of service have in the biasing of historical narrative on the site and finally are Wikipedia’s detractors right in their assessment and denouncement of Wikipedia as an academic source? Why Blog your answers.

W 2/19
On your own have a group meeting and planning day — discussions of the proposal. Meet in person or online in a Google Hangout and discuss your proposal. I’m at a conference this day.

Week 6

M 2/24 In class Group Meetings and planning for your projects

W 2/26 Present your ideas for projects. Present a rough draft of your project proposal for in-class discussion.

Group Proposals are due via Google Doc from each group Friday 3/1 11:59 p.m.

Week 7
M 3/2 W 3/4 Your Digital Identity and How is your past represented online.

Read before Class(Be sure that you are marking up our readings on before class starts):

Read and look at these and be prepared to discuss five lessons you learned from them about digital identity.

Sean Smith (
The Center for the History of Video Games and Critical Play (
Social Media for Students
Creating A Successful Online Portfolio, Sean Hodge
“Think Before You Post: Your online Presence Can Cost You a job”
Personal branding in the age of Google, Seth Godin,
Writer Evan Ratliff Tried to Vanish: Here’s What Happened, Evan Ratliff,
Who Owns the Digital You? (Three Parts)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being Digital
Fleshing Out the Digital Selves in Practice
Controlling Your Public Appearance

In class assignment: Exploring the digital you.

Week 8
3/9– 3/11

A domain of one’s own

Readings TBA

Create your own Digital Resume post link to the blog everyone will comment and critique your work based on this week’s readings.

Week 9
M 3/16
— Video Games and historical narratives

Readings before class (Be sure that you are marking up our readings on before class starts):

Meyers, “Lessons from Assassin’s Creedfor Constructing Educational Games”
Sample, “Rebooting Counterfactual History with JFK: Reloaded
Sample, “A Revisionist History of JFK: Reloaded
“Playing with the Past,” Chapter 10. “Selective Authenticity and the Playable Past.”
“Playing with the Past,” Chapter 17. “Refighting the Cold War: Video Games and Speculative History

In-class discussion of history gaming and hands on gaming lab. Blog about lessons learned from historical games online.

W 3/18
Gender and digital humanities.

Readings before class (Be sure that you are marking up our readings on before class starts):

Consalvo, “Confronting toxic gamer culture: A challenge for feminist game studies scholars”
Posner, “Some things to think about before you exhort everyone to code”
Blankenship,“Women and Coding”
Clement,“I am a woman and I am a mother and I do DH”
Digital Humanities Quarterly, Special Issue on Feminism in Digital Humanities.

In-class discussion of women in DH and on line communities in general. We’ll pay particular attention to gamer-gate and the historical place of women in tech.

Week 10
M 3/23
— In-class project work

W 3/25 — Big data
Readings before class( Be sure that you are marking up our readings on before class starts):

Dumbill, “What is Big Data?”
Graham, Milligan, and Weingart “The Historians Macroscope.”
Croll, “Big Data is our generation’s civil rights issue, and we don’t know it
Bluestein, “Big Data on Campus is Like a Keg Stand for Your Brain”
Gibbs and Owen, Writing History in the Digital Age, “The Hermeneutics of Data and Historical Writing”

In class discussion of Big data its role in our lives and its value to history and historical research.

Week 11
M – W 4/6 – 4/8

In-class project work. Groups will present their progress and report problems. Class will critique the current state of projects.

Week 12
M 4/13 — W 4/15 Working on Projects

Week 13
M 4/20 – 22

Controversies in Digital Historical Practice. The Good, the Bad and the Ridiculous.

Readings before class (Be sure that you are marking up our readings on before class starts):

Explore the Black Confederate Soldierssite.
Levin, “Black Confederate Resources”
Madsen, Writing History in the Digital Age,“‘I nevertheless am a historian’: Digital Historical Practice and Malpractice around Black Confederate Soldiers”
Explore http://lasta ALERT: Skip the first post; read it after you have explored the rest of the site.

Can you find other poorly conceived/executed digital history sites? What makes them problematic, what if any value do they serve and what do they tell us about history in the digital age?

Week 14
M 4/27 — 4/29 Work on Projects

Week 15
M 5/4 – 5/6 Last minute project workshop/problem solving.

W 5/10 Projects Due— Self reflective paper/blog post due (~2-3pages/~1500 words) reflecting on the process and defending your project as proposed.

NOTE: Given that these are public projects, students will commit to fixing issues found by Professor Smith during the final evaluation of projects.

Week 16
Exam Period (To be announced in class)

Final presentation of projects.