Instructor: Samuel McCready

HIST 3812 course posterDigital games, streaming services, YouTube, digital historical collections and archives, film and television: history increasingly comes to us in digital representations and enactments. These change historical practice and redefine historical engagement with the public. How so?

To answer this question, this course will investigate how digital history is being produced, how it is consumed by the public, and how people learn about history.

Each module will focus on one media form of digital history (film, YouTube video, or digital game) and explore the potentials/questions/limitations it offers to legitimate (or invalid) traditional historical practices.

Lectures and readings combine background material related to the periods and places  a digital source seeks to represent or enact (for instance Cold War readings will help students become more familiar with the content of Fallout 4), and analysis by digital media studies and communications scholars who help students approach digital content critically.

Coursework will involve a combination of working hands-on with digital historical content and one major assignment consisting of a long form analysis or group content creation project.

The main goal is to encourage thinking about meta-historical concerns (i.e. what is history? How is it made?) in a digital society; to raise questions such as:

  • What constitutes legitimate history, 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 are 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 of history in a digital world?