Course Assignments

This course has five marked items.

As you can see from the assignment breakdown on the syllabus or below, this course has ongoing participation coupled with a short introductory essay and then a final project. My goal is to be flexible to let you study what you want to study, as well as make sure you get some feedback on the first assignment before we get to the final one! If you have questions, as always, let me know – in light of COVID-19 I am more flexible than ever.

Assignment breakdown

Assignment Weight
Participation 30%
Short Response Paper (due 12 February 2021, 11:55pm Eastern; 2,000 words) 20%
Final Project Proposal (due 26 February 2021, 11:55pm Eastern; 1,000 words) 10%
Class Presentation (due 1 April 2021, 10-minute presentation video) 10%
Final Project (due 16 April 2021 at 11:55pm Eastern Time, details vary) 30%

Participation (Ongoing, 30%)

Participation grades in HIST 640 are assessed on the following criteria:

  • Attendance: Our class discussions are only as strong as the students that are assembled there to discuss content! Accordingly, showing up is important. If you can’t make a class, please do let the professor know ASAP.
  • Discussing Material: I expect you to come to class having done the readings and reflected upon them using the prompts I provide each week. At the very least, have some answers ready to those questions - our discussioms will flow out of them.
  • Discussing With Classmates: Active listening is important, and is always a bit more taxing in a remote course format. During class, I expect you to listen to your classmates and be willing to respectfully respond and engage with their psepctivesl
  • Participating in any small weekly activities: We will do little things in lieu of readings, such as setting up simple websites or playing with interactive website. Please do so.

Important Proviso: I understand that students may hve difficulty connecting to material synchronously, due to lack of reliable Internet or timezones. If this is the case, I will record the discussion and you can submit reflection pieces in lieu of active participation. In general, as things are a bit exceptional due to COVID-19, if you are having trouble contributing, have circumstances that are precluding active remote participation, etc., please e-mail Professor Milligan as soon as you can.

Short Response Paper (Due 12 Feb 2021, 20%)

You have to write one short essay, which will be be between 1,500 and 2,000 words in length. You should pick ONE of the following THREE topics to write on.

  • Historical work and argumentation. Does historical work need to have an argument? What do we gain and lose when we allow the user agency to work through interfaces and databases themselves?
  • Algorithms and your previous work. Think of your last substantive research project. Could algorithmic bias or digitization bias have influenced this work? If so, how? If not, why not? What would you change in the future to avoid these issues?
  • Are we all digital historians? Building out of the Module 3 discussion, elaborate on the question - are we all digital historians?

This paper is due at 11:55pm Eastern time on 12 February via e-mail to Professor Milligan. Your essay should have a thesis/argument, a clear structure, introduce documented evidence from the readings or from your past projects, and be well written and reasonably clear of typos, grammatical errors, etc.

Final Project Proposal (Due 26 Feb 2021, 10%)

In this proposal, you have the option of either proposing a digital media project (i.e. a website, database, spatial historical approach, video game, etc.) or to propose to write an essay that in some ways enhances our understanding of digital history or any of the topics explored here.

We will talk about this in class, but here are some example projects that you might want to do:

  • A public history website showcasing your topic. Are you interested in monuments? Educational institutions? Could you imagine a spatial or public approach, similar to what we discuss in class? You could build a website about this topic.
  • An essay on a critical topic. How has digitization impacted your field? Are archives transforming the kinds of work that we can do? Do web archives raise new ethical territory?
  • A research database that could support your MRP or MA thesis.
  • A computational analysis of something: are you curious about finding patterns in hundreds or thousands of documents? Extracting networks from correspondence?
  • Anything, really…

You should be prepared to have a meeting with me to talk about your passions and interests for the course, and how we can align them with the final project so you can all have something you’re deeply proud of.

The proposal will be roughly 1,000 words and should contain:

  • Argument or Objective: You need to clearly identify your project, and the working hypothesis – or goal – that you are working towards;
  • A brief discussion of the historical event: In no more than 250 words or so, briefly discuss the major historical events at play in the topic you might be choosing;
  • What have other scholars aruged about this topic? What are the broad strokes of the literature? Have others done a digital topic on this, or written about it?
  • What sources will you be using? Will you be drawing on primary sources? Secondary sources? For each source, write a sentence or two about what the source is, and then a sentence or two about how it relates to your project.

The proposal is due at 11:55pm Eastern time on 26 February via e-mail to Professor Milligan.

Class Presentation (Due 1 April 2021 @ 10am, 10%)

Each of you will give a 10-minute summary of your project to the class. As we are remote, I would ask that you pre-record the video. We’ll talk about how to do this in class, and I can upload a video showing you some techniques for doing this.

Each presentation should:

  • Clearly express the project's argument or objective;
  • Provide a documentation of the evidence used;
  • Use sound presenting principles, such as:
    • Using audio-visual resources where appropriate;
    • Engaging the audience with a story or in-depth discussion from part of your paper;
    • Give a walkthrough of the website or project if applicable;

The videos will be circulated so that you can watch them asyncrhonously, and we will convene for a discussion period. During the discussion period, you should be prepared to take questions and answers, as well as demonstrating an in-depth awareness of your project.

I will evaluate the presentation based on the above principles.

Final Project (Due 16 April 2021, 30%)

In this final grading assignment, I will evaluate your final project. I will do so on the following criteria, bearing in mind that each project will be held to the goals that are set out in the project proposal (i.e. no April curveballs from me!). The final project is due at 11:59pm Eastern time on 16 April via e-mail to Professor Milligan. This might take the shape of an attachment, a link, etc. etc.

  • Quality of writing and design;
  • Effective use of sources;
  • Easy to understand and navigate (if applicable);
  • Response to earlier criticism and suggestions;
  • Attention to detail.