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Viewing: HI 534 / HI 434 : Theory and Practice of Digital History

Last approved: Wed, 07 Mar 2018 15:34:50 GMT

Last edit: Wed, 07 Mar 2018 15:34:45 GMT

Catalog Pages referencing this course
Change Type
HI (History)
Dual-Level Course
Cross-listed Course
Theory and Practice of Digital History
Theory Pract Digtl Hist
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
History (16HI)
Term Offering
Fall Only
Offered Every Year
Fall 2018
Previously taught as Special Topics?
Course Delivery
Face-to-Face (On Campus)

Grading Method
Contact Hours
(Per Week)
Component TypeContact Hours
Course Attribute(s)

If your course includes any of the following competencies, check all that apply.
University Competencies

Course Is Repeatable for Credit
Frederico Santos Soares de Freitas
Assistant Professor of History

Open when course_delivery = campus OR course_delivery = blended OR course_delivery = flip
Enrollment ComponentPer SemesterPer SectionMultiple Sections?Comments
Seminar2424NoCourses will be held at CHASS IT Instructional Labs (capacity 25 students)
Open when course_delivery = distance OR course_delivery = online OR course_delivery = remote
Prerequisite: 3 hours of History
R: Graduate Standing or PBS
Is the course required or an elective for a Curriculum?
SIS Program CodeProgram TitleRequired or Elective?
16PHMAPublic History-MA (for 534)Elective
16PHPHDPublic History-PhD (for 534)Elective
16HISTBAHistory BA (for 434)Elective
16HISTTEDHistory BA-Teacher Education Concentration (for 434)Elective
16HISTBSHistory BS (for 434)Elective
16HIMHistory Minor (for 434)Elective
Introduces students to the theory and practice of digital history. Students will examine theoretical scholarship on digital practices in history, learning how to acquire, edit, process, analyze, and present humanistic data. Students will critique examples of digital history including digital archives, exhibits, scholarship, and teaching resources, and then apply conceptual knowledge in the creation of their own digital history projects. The course is geared to students without prior knowledge of coding. Credit will not be given for both HI 434 and HI 534.

This course is being expanded from 500 level only to a dual-level course (400/500 level). This a growing area of new scholarship to which majors should be exposed.


Is this a GEP Course?
GEP Categories

Humanities Open when gep_category = HUM
Each course in the Humanities category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Mathematical Sciences Open when gep_category = MATH
Each course in the Mathematial Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:




Natural Sciences Open when gep_category = NATSCI
Each course in the Natural Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:




Social Sciences Open when gep_category = SOCSCI
Each course in the Social Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Interdisciplinary Perspectives Open when gep_category = INTERDISC
Each course in the Interdisciplinary Perspectives category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:








Visual & Performing Arts Open when gep_category = VPA
Each course in the Visual and Performing Arts category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Health and Exercise Studies Open when gep_category = HES
Each course in the Health and Exercise Studies category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:








Global Knowledge Open when gep_category = GLOBAL
Each course in the Global Knowledge category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve objective #1 plus at least one of objectives 2, 3, and 4:


Please complete at least 1 of the following student objectives.






US Diversity Open when gep_category = USDIV
Each course in the US Diversity category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve at least 2 of the following objectives:
Please complete at least 2 of the following student objectives.








Requisites and Scheduling
a. If seats are restricted, describe the restrictions being applied.

b. Is this restriction listed in the course catalog description for the course?

List all course pre-requisites, co-requisites, and restrictive statements (ex: Jr standing; Chemistry majors only). If none, state none.

List any discipline specific background or skills that a student is expected to have prior to taking this course. If none, state none. (ex: ability to analyze historical text; prepare a lesson plan)

Additional Information
Complete the following 3 questions or attach a syllabus that includes this information. If a 400-level or dual level course, a syllabus is required.
Title and author of any required text or publications.

Major topics to be covered and required readings including laboratory and studio topics.

List any required field trips, out of class activities, and/or guest speakers.

College(s)Contact NameStatement Summary
College of Humanities and Social SciencesPaul FyfeThere are currently no other Digital Humanities courses at the undergraduate level. No overlap therefore.
This course will not require additional resources. It is part of the course rotation for a recently hired professor to teach digital history.

In this course, students will:

Develop a research project in digital history. Students will work with historical data to form an original research question in history and use digital tools to address their question. Projects are collective and the final product consists of an online visualization or electronic poster.

Critique the theoretical underpinnings and the methodological implications of digital humanities techniques such as text mining, distant reading, topic modeling, network analysis, and online mapping.

Learn how to employ an array of digital methods of data analysis to answer historical questions.

Student Learning Outcomes

By the end of all course students will be able to:

  • Critique uses and abuses of digital tools and methods, and identify the possibilities and shortcomings of digital approaches to humanistic research.

  • Procure, clean, and edit textual and quantitative historical data through the use of digital tools.

  • Analyze historical data through the combination of humanistic interpretation and data analysis.

  • Manage a digital project, learning how to plan, develop, evaluate, and deliver a digital humanities job in an environment of collaborative research.

  • Plan and execute data visualization projects, employing good standards of design, user interface, and cartography to communicate with the public.

In addition to that, the graduate students in this course will be able to:

  • Lead an academic discussion session on the methodology of humanities research.

  • Plan and execute online interactive visualization projects, learning the basics about user interface and user experience.

  • Execute a fully develop digital humanities website, with embedded interactive visualizations, support text, and data repository.

Evaluation MethodWeighting/Points for EachDetails
Participation15 (HI534) / 20 (HI434)Participation - Participation in class discussions and in-class tutorials. Completion of readings.
presentation10 (HI534 only)Presentation on the Readings - Once during the course (weeks 1-2, 5-7, 9-12) HI 534 students will lead the seminar discussion, presenting for 10 minutes on the assigned articles and then conducting a Q&A session. Students will highlight the readings’ main ideas and present questions for in-class discussion.
Short Paper15 (HI534) / 20 (HI434)Methods Paper - Written. Methodological review of one of the three approaches of digital history: text, space, or networks. HI 434: 700-1000 words. HI 535: 1200-1500 words.
Oral Presentation5Review of Online Repositories - Ten–minute presentations followed by five-minute Q&A. Groups review one or two examples of online digital repositories and one or two possible datasets for use in their own research project (they could be online or not).
Short Paper5Draft Proposal - Written. Introduction of group’s research topic, tools, sources. HI 434: 300-500 words. HI 534: 500-800 words.
Short Paper10Proposal - Oral and Written. Address topic, tools, sources, timeline/workflow, shared responsibilities/workload, audience and or historiographical intervention. HI 534 groups, in addition to that, need to: 1) address questions about the media chosen to present the project; 2) discuss relevant examples of similar projects. Ten–minute group presentations followed by five-minute Q&A, and written proposal. HI 434: 600-1000 words. HI: 534: 1000-1500 words.
Oral Presentation5Preliminary Treatment - Oral. Fifteen-minute office-hours presentation of work done until now. Schedule an office appointment.
Oral Presentation5Draft Presentation - Oral. Preliminary presentation of final project. Ten–minute group presentations followed by five-minute Q&A.
presentation25Oral. Presentation of the final project to class and Q&A with the instructor. The digital history group project consists of work with historical data to form an original research question, and use digital tools to answer the question. Students will present the electronic presentation of their digital history project. 1) Students in HI 434 will present an electronic poster or a beta version of a website (i.e. with static visualizations and provisory front-end development). The focus in HI 434 is mostly on the research process. 2) Students in HI 534 will present a finished version of a website, with fully developed front-end, polished interactive visualizations stemming from their digital history work, analytical support text, and data repository. The focus in HI 534 is both on the research and design processes.
Short Paper5Final Report - Written. Report process of research, outcomes, workload, and suggest possible changes. 600-1000 words.
TopicTime Devoted to Each TopicActivity
IntroductionWeek 1Introduction, review of syllabus.
What is Digital HistoryWeek 2Discussion of Seefeldt and Thomas, ""What is Digital History;" Cohen et al. "Interchange: the Promise of Digital History;" Scheinfeldt, “Theory, Method, and Digital Humanities;” Blevins, “The Perpetual Sunrise of Methodology;” Golumbia et al. “Neoliberal Tools (and Archives): A Political History of Digital Humanities; ” and Weingart, “‘Digital History’ Can Never Be New.”

Class review of online digital projects.
Historical DataWeek 3Discussion of Rosenzweig, “Scarcity or Abundance? Preserving the Past in a Digital Era;” Rosenberg, “Data Before the Fact;” Erickson, “Historical Research and the Problem of Categories: Reflections on 10,000 Digital Note Cards;” Gibbs and Owens, “The Hermeneutics of Data and Historical Writing;” and Dunkelman, “What Data Can’t Convey.”

Guided Tutorial: OpenRefine
Visualizing DataWeek 4Group review of online repositories.

Guided Tutorial: RawGraphs and Tableau.
Distant Reading 1Week 5Discussion of Moretti, “Graphs, Maps, Trees;” Sinclair and Rockwell, “Text Analysis and Visualization: Making Meaning Count;” Ramsay, “The Hermeneutics of Screwing Around; or What You Do with a Million Books;” Jockers and Underwood, “Text-Mining the Humanities;” Moretti and Pestre, “Bankspeak: The Language of World Bank Reports, 1946-2012;” and Pechenick et al., “Characterizing the Google Books Corpus: Strong Limits to Inferences of Socio-Cultural and Linguistic Evolution.”

Guided Tutorial: Voyant
Spatial History 1 Week 6Discussion of White, “What is Spatial History?”; Knowles, “GIS and History;” Blevins, “Mining and Mapping the Production of Space;” Blevins, “Space, Nation, and the Triumph of Region: A View of the World from Houston;” Gregory and Ell, “Use GIS to Visualize Historical Data;” and Monmonier, “Lying with Maps.”

Guided Tutorial: CartoDB
Social Networks 1Week 7Granovetter, “The Strength of Weak Ties;” Weingart, “Demystifying Networks;” Easley and Kleinberg, “Graphs,” and “Strong and Weak Ties;” Meeks, “More Networks in the Humanities or Did books have DNA?”; and Weingart et al., “Networks in Historical Research.”

Guided Tutorial: Gephi
Project Proposal PresentationWeek 8Presentation of Research Proposals – 10 minutes each followed by 5 minute Q&A
Visualization and Virtual RealityWeek 9Discussion of Tufte, "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information;" Theibault, “Visualizations and Historical Arguments;” and Kheraj, “The Presence of the Past: The Possibilities of Virtual Reality for History.”

Guided Tutorial: 360° WebVR Tutorial
Distant Reading 2Week 10Discussion of Brett, “Topic Modeling: A Basic Introduction;” Underwood, “Topic Modeling Made Just Simple Enough;” Schmidt, “When you have a MALLET, everything looks like a nail;” Posner, “Very basic strategies for interpreting results from the Topic Modeling Tool,” and Blevins, “Topic Modeling Martha Ballard’s Diary.”

Guided Tutorial: MALLET
Spatial History 2Week 11Discussion of Presner and Shepard, “Mapping the Geospatial Turn;” Confer, “Scalling the Dust Bowl;” Frank and Berry, “The Slave Market in Rio de Janeiro circa 1869: Context, Movement and Social Experience;” Biggs, “Frame DS1050-1006DF129: March 20, 1969;” and Biggs, “New Spaces for Stories: Technical and Conceptual Challenges to Using Spatial Imagery in Environmental History.”

Guided Tutorial: Google Earth/Maps/Fusion Tables

Social Networks 2Week 12Discussion of Franzosi, and Mohr, “New Directions in Formalization and Historical Analysis,” Franzosi et al., “Ways of Measuring Agency: An Application of Quantitative Narrative Analysis to Lynchings in Georgia (1875—1930);” Winterer. “Where is America in the Republic of Letters,” Han, “The Other Ride of Paul Revere: The Brokerage Role in the Making of the American Revolution;” and Ahnert, “Maps Versus Networks.”

Guided turorial: Palladio
Draft PresentationWeek 13Draft Presentation. Ten–minute group presentations followed by five-minute Q&A.

PraticumWeek 14Groups work on their final projects
Final PresentationsWeek 15 & 16Groups present their final projects
mlnosbis 10/16/2017:
1) I think the course component should be lecture given the content and organization of the course. See and
2) The only distinction between graduate and undergraduate is that graduate students are graded for presentation of the readings. Not sure that that indicates they are held to a higher standard than the undergraduate students. Consider adding a learning outcome for graduate students.
3) Disabilities statement in syllabus should read "Accommodations for Students with Disabilities"
4) Clarify that readings in addition to the required text will be available on the Moodle site, or state where those readings for each week are located.

pjharrie - 11/16/17 - I concur with Melissa that there is insufficient differentiation between the grad and ugrad expectations, and that needs to be enhanced by adding something more tangible to what they are doing beyond what's required for the ugrads.

ABGS Reviewer Comments:
-No concerns
aeherget (Thu, 12 Oct 2017 12:19:38 GMT): AECHH: Uploading updated syllabus with friendly suggestions at instructor's request via email 10/11/2017.
Key: 6351