HIST 3812A/DIGH 3812A – Digital History: Histories in Digital Media and Popular Culture.
Fall 2020

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is being produced and consumed by the public, and how this reshapes what it means to engage with, and learn about, historical content. Students will be introduced to various examples from digital history, and are given a choice regarding how they wish to pursue the major assignment for the course. Students can choose either: a) a long-form essay style analysis of some digital historical content (i.e. a series, a digital game, a film, a podcast, a virtual archive) OR b) a content creation project that will ask them – working individually or in groups of up to 4 – to produce their own original digital historical object. This object could be a game, a podcast, an interactive virtual story, an online archive etc. More information about this second option will be provided in the syllabus and in videos that will outline the assignments for the course. Lectures (which will be a mix of short introductory videos/condensed lectures and power point presentations) 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 digital media/content thoughtfully and critically. The principal aim of this course is to introduce material that helps students work towards their final project, and encourages 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: Online content that includes a mixture of recorded videos introducing the course, assignments, weekly topics, and condensed lectures, along with weekly power point presentations and assigned readings. There will also be suggested media content for students to seek out and watch, and this content will be related to the weekly topic under consideration.

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.

Evaluation:

  • Critical reading summaries (2) (20%)
  • Digital “How-to” Guide (10%)
  • Digital Source Analysis (15%)
  • Final Project Outline (15%)
  • Long-form analysis/Content creation project (40%)

Required Texts: None

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