Module Two: The History Web

21 January 2021

This week we do two things:

  • Gain a basic understanding of the history of digital history; and
  • Begin to think about the various ways historians have used the Web to engage with new and emerging publics.

Readings for this Week

  • Chad Gaffield, “Clio and Computers in Canada and Beyond: Contested Past, Promising Present, Uncertain Future.” Canadian Historical Review, vol. 101, issue. 4: 559-584. [Read via Project Muse; here’s a UW Proxy Link
  • Sharon Leon, “Complicating a “Great Man” Narrative of Digital History in the United States.” Bodies of Information: Intersectional Feminism and digital Humanities (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018). [available online]
  • Stephen Robertson, “The Differences between Digital Humanities and Digital History.” Debates in Digital Humanities 2016 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016). [available online]
  • Find THREE websites, social media accounts, or YouTube subscriptions that you think do a good job of connecting history to the public. Be prepared to discuss them.

Homework for the Week

Here are two videos. The first is Wix, which is probably the easiest way to make a basic, professional site. I don’t provide any commentary as you can see how easy it is.

The second is Wordpress. A bit more involved, but if you wanted to get a blog going or have more options, it’s a choice too.

There are other options too, of course!

The main task before and after this class is to set up a class website for HIST 640. This can be part of your digital portfolio. You can do so on a variety of sites, including Wordpress or Wix, to whatever level of technical complexity you would like. If you already have a website, that’s awesome - we might ask you to share it in class.

To help you with this, I will provide a video walking you through the basic approach to setting up a site. We’ll talk about best practices in the seminar.

By the start of Week Three (i.e. next week), you should have a site set up with the following components:

  • An “about” page;
  • Another page with a CV; and
  • Either a page of content with some project information or a blog post introducing yourself. (Jan 15: edited to clarify: this could be about your MRP; a policy problem you’re interested in; dissertation goals; a favourite historical question; it’s really just an opportunity to flesh out your site with some extra stuff!)

If you run into trouble, we’ll talk a bit about any pitfalls as a group during the discussion.

Our Discussion for this Week

In our Microsoft Teams discussion, we will cover the following topics:

  • History of digital history. Come prepared to discuss the following points:
    • How has digital history evolved over the last 50 years? What is new? What has remained the same?
    • How does digital history differ from the “digital humanities,” based on what we have learned from this module and the last one?
    • Are you hopeful about the future directions of digital history? Where do you see it going.
  • The History Web. How are historians engaging with the public?
    • Why do we do this?
    • What has worked?
    • How will you incorporate what you think has worked into your own website?
  • Setting up your own website. We don’t want our class to become a technical support forum, but we’ll talk a bit about the best approaches to join the history web with your own site.

Want to Meet with Me?

As always, you can book a 30-minute meeting with me via Calendly. Use this link here. If there are no times that are available, just send me an email and we can work something out.

This will create a Microsoft Teams appointment. The URL for the Teams link will be in the calendar invitation e-mailed to you.


Last modified January 15, 2021: note of explanation on website (1cd216b)