Instructor: Samuel McCready

Course Description:

This course seeks to explore a selection of examples drawn from popular digital histories and digital historical forms (such as film and television, Netflix, YouTube, digital historical collections and archives, and video games), to raise questions about how representations and enactments of the past in popular digital culture are reimaging historical practice and redefining historical engagement for a broader public. This course is particularly interested in investigating how digital history is being produced and consumed by the public, and how this refigures what it means to engage with, and learn about, historical content. Students will be introduced to various examples from digital history and will be tasked with a project in historical making to produce their own original historical game. Assignments will provide students with support that is designed to help them build towards this final project. This means that students will take an active role in the topics they choose to pursue for course assignments, with the intention that they choose material that will be related to their larger, final project. **You do not need to be a designer or coder to do this work! The intention, rather, is that students get to experience what it is like to be responsible for the creation of an historical object (in this case game), by getting to control the theme(s), narrative, play, design, and message of their historical creation** Lectures and readings will consist of a combination of background material as well as scholarship derived from digital media studies and communications that provides students with an introduction to approaching a critical engagement with digital content. The principal aim of this course is to provide material that help students work towards the final project, and encourage them to think about meta-historical concerns (i.e. what is history about? How is it made?), raising questions such as: what constitutes legitimate history in a digital society, and how can we know? How can we approach a critical analysis of the process of history making both in its traditional and digital forms? How is authorship, content creation, and user engagement with digital history defined and policed? What does the profusion of popular historical representations in digital media mean for the future of academic history? And, finally, what represents best practices for the teaching and learning of history in a digital world?

Format: Three hour lectures taking place once a week, that include a mixture of lectures, discussion and media content

Course Aims:

  • Engage in deep reading and analysis of traditional historical scholarship, and contemporary digital historical media.
  • Reflect critically on questions of historical philosophy, practice, and representation.
  • Produce thoughtful work relating to questions of historical representation and its enactment in digital histories.
  • Experience historical making as an active and ongoing process via the creation of an original historical object (game).

Evaluation:

  • Attendance & Participation (20%)
  • Digital “How-to” Guide (10%)
  • Digital Source Analysis (15%)
  • Digital Book Review (15%)
  • Group Project: Content Creation (40%)

Required Texts: None

Questions: Feel free to contact me at Samuel.mccready@carleton.ca