About This Course

  • Tuesday 4-5:50, 63 Fifth Avenue Room 503
  • Professor: Claire Potter
  • You may register for this course here; undergraduates can register here (update: the undergraduate section is full — undergrads may now register through the graduate number.)
  • Write Professor Potter to ask about how this course fits into your program of graduate or undergraduate study.
  • Download a .pdf of the syllabus here. (Note: I recommend that you use the web syllabus, but you may keep this file for your records.)

What is at stake for historians as we confront the power of computer technology and the opportunities presented by digital humanities methods? The preservation of new electronic archives provides evidence about the recent past on a scale, and in media texts, that few scholars trained in the twentieth century scholars imagined. Digitization of conventional archives, easily ported to our desktops, make historians responsible for managing rich archives that are hidden from view — and must be accessible on – hard drives and cloud servers. Avoiding technology as a practicing historian is impossible; learning to use it to our advantage is critical to becoming a well-trained researcher, writer, and story-teller.

The “digital” encompasses a range of technologies that are already integrated into our lives as academic and public citizens. Social media has become part of our scholarly practice, offering new opportunities and challenges for colleagueship, collaboration, and teaching. Digital platforms, data mining, and mapping allow us to ask and answer big historical questions, making persuasive arguments to larger and more diverse audiences; while tools and apps allow us to tell stories differently, making our evidence visible to our audience. As a field within the digital humanities, digital history represents a new phase in the modern history of the book, the history of reading and the history of the archive.

In this course, we will learn about the digital tools that can advance our work as historians, and the new opportunities digital media offers: online collecting and archiving, telling stories through design; the ethics of online research and publication of primary documents; collaboration with multiple authors; open access publishing and navigating copyright in digital media environments.