Instructor Information

Professor Ian Milligan
Class Time: Thursday, 10am - 1pm (usually 10am-12pm)
Class Location: SJ1 3013
Office Hours: Book a 30-minute MS Teams Here

Course Description

Digital history, the application of new and emerging technologies to the study of history, is an important field that has begun to reshape historical production and scholarship. This graduate level course introduces students to the literature on digital history, and then puts theory into practice by digitally collecting, publishing, and producing new historical knowledge with cutting-edge tools.

Critical topics for this course include:
  • What is digital history, and what is its relationship to the digital humanities and the broader field of history?
  • How can new technology transform historical work, including introductions to:
    • Data mining and textual analysis
    • Spatial histories
    • Data visualization
    • High-performance computing environments
  • How are digitized primary sources transforming the study of history?
  • How can we put history online and reach new audiences?

This course takes a hands-on approach to these methods. While the reading load is lighter, this is made up by an expectation that students come to class prepared.

Course Goals and Learning Objectives

After completing this course, students will have developed the following:

  • skills essential to the critical analysis and understanding of the digital turn in historical research;
  • improved research and writing skills;
  • collaborative skills necessary for teamwork; and
  • exemplary public presentation and conversation facilitation skills.
  • Required Texts

    There are no required texts to purchase for this course. All course readings will be available via this website either using your institutional credentials or via the University of Waterloo Library’s Course Reserves.

    Assessment Breakdown

    Assignment Weight
    Participation 30%
    Short Response Paper (due 4 February 2022 @ 11:55pm Eastern Time, 2,000 words) 20%
    Final Project Proposal (due 19 February 2022 @ 11:55pm Eastern Time, 1,000 words) 10%
    Class Presentation (in class, 24 March 2022 or 31 March 2022) 10%
    Final Project (due 15 April 2022 @ 11:55pm Eastern Time) 30%

    Week-by-Week Breakdown

    There will be one two-hour class meeting per week in SJ1 3013. Click on each week for details, or you can view it all via “Week-by-Week” above.

    Date Topic
    6 January History Goes Digital
    13 January The History Web
    20 January Born-Digital and Made-Digital
    27 January Thinking Like a Machine: Algorithmic Bias and Machine Learning
    3 February Ethics in the Digital Age
    10 February Spatial Histories
    18 February Event-based Digital Archives
    25 February READING WEEK
    3 March Textual Analysis and Data Mining
    10 March Hands-on With Text Analysis
    17 March Choose Your Own Adventure
    24 March Class Presentations
    31 March Class Presentations

    Rules and Important Course Policies

    Late Penalties: In general, a penalty of 2% a day will be imposed up to a maximum of seven days, after which an assignment will no longer be accepted. However, as there is an ongoing pandemic, I am more flexible than usual. If you are not going to be able to make a deadline, you need to e-mail me as soon as possible to discuss options.

    Academic integrity: In order to maintain a culture of academic integrity, members of the University of Waterloo community are expected to promote honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. Check the Office of Academic Integrity for more information.

    Grievance: A student who believes that a decision affecting some aspect of his/her university life has been unfair or unreasonable may have grounds for initiating a grievance. Read Policy 70, Student Petitions and Grievances, Section 4. When in doubt, please be certain to contact the department’s administrative assistant who will provide further assistance.

    Discipline: A student is expected to know what constitutes academic integrity to avoid committing an academic offence, and to take responsibility for his/her actions. [Check the Office of Academic Integrity for more information.] A student who is unsure whether an action constitutes an offence, or who needs help in learning how to avoid offences (e.g., plagiarism, cheating) or about “rules” for group work/collaboration should seek guidance from the course instructor, academic advisor, or the undergraduate associate dean. For information on categories of offences and types of penalties, students should refer to Policy 71, Student Discipline. For typical penalties, check Guidelines for the Assessment of Penalties.

    Appeals: A decision made or penalty imposed under Policy 70, Student Petitions and Grievances (other than a petition) or Policy 71, Student Discipline may be appealed if there is a ground. A student who believes he/she has a ground for an appeal should refer to Policy 72, Student Appeals.

    Note for students with disabilities: AccessAbility Services, located in Needles Hall, Room 1401, collaborates with all academic departments to arrange appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities without compromising the academic integrity of the curriculum. If you require academic accommodations to lessen the impact of your disability, please register with AccessAbility Services at the beginning of each academic term.