Undergraduate students at Carleton are encouraged to explore history using a diversity of sources, methodologies and media. See below for just a few examples of historical documentaries, activist essays, digital projects, and research essays produced by Carleton History students. For more examples of digital history see the DH@CWorks website.
Making Documentary History
Students in HIST 4302B, Making Documentary History, create short narrative historical documentaries under the direction of filmmaker Michael Ostroff. They are offered a chance to be creative – to tell a story, discuss an historical issue, provoke debate, and to have fun making some movie magic. Students learn to become effective and engaging storytellers, appreciating the complexities, dilemmas and idiosyncrasies of telling history in a visually orientated medium.
Michael Ostroff’s first student film was a narrative historical documentary about Louis Riel, and he has since produced such historical films as Wakefield Mill (1984), Speaking of Movies (1994), Budge: the One True Happiness of F.R. Budge Crawley (2002), Canvas of War: The Art of World War Two (2000) and Pegi Nicol: Something Dancing About Her (2005). His most recent production, Winds of Heaven: Carr, Carvers and The Spirits of the Forest (2010) has been described by the programmer of the Vancouver International Film Festival as “…one of the best films ever made about our province, these forests, and our history as newcomers.”
Read his article about the course, or view two student produced documentary films below.
No Road Home, about the displacements caused by the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway, produced by undergraduates Alison Murdock, Jennifer Bate, Rebecca Sykes and Stephanie Desjardins.
At Home Here, about Dominion sculptor Eleanor Milne, produced by Olivia Johnston, Andrea Pybus, Joe Ryan and Rachel Swatek.
Writing, and other forms of scholarly production, can be a form of activism. Making History Matter, edited by Audra Diptee is an undergraduate e-journal that provides a space for our undergraduate historians to use their skills to shape ideas in the wider world. The contributions are meant to influence and inform historical thinking outside the academy and to inspire debate. For this reason the contributions are deliberately short and quite often engage with contemporary issues.
To date student contributions have taken many forms including short essays, historical fiction, research posters, and digital projects. In order for our students to have the widest influence possible all contributions are circulated on social media.
With more and more kinds of historical documents becoming available online, there is a need for students to learn the skills, methods and philosophies of digital history and digital humanities research. Digital historian Shawn Graham offers several courses leading students through the ins and outs of analyzing thousands of historical documents at once, of representing good history through immersive platforms like augmented reality and video games, and communicating historical research effectively over the web. Examples of student projects using Minecraft as a platform for history can be found at https://github.com/shawngraham/hist3812a.
Graham has also crowdfunded a research fellowship, directly aimed at students learning these technologies. The George Garth Graham Undergraduate Digital History Research Fellowship was established in the fall of 2013 with funds raised through Carleton’s crowdfunding portal, futurefunder.ca. The research fellowship provides one student per term to work with faculty in the department on digital history, whether that means learning to build apps, digitizing resources, writing history on the web, data mining “big data,” and reflecting on what this process does to our sense of what history is about. The first fellow, Mr. Hollis Peirce, used his fellowship to work on ways of data mining audio recordings for oral history. More information about the fund, and about Peirce’s research, may be found at http://grahamresearchfellow.org.
Research essays continue to be the mainstay of the history program. In 2017 prize winning essays included:
- Adenieke Lewis-Gibbs, “The Golden Years: How the Post-War Years Reshaped the Canadian Landscape”
- Sheldon Paul, “Hating on Haiti: The Effects of the 1915-34 American Occupation”
- Molly McGuire, “Burying the Breaker of Horses: Hegemonic Masculinity in First World War Commercial Advertisements”
- Rawan Salman, “Intersecting Theories on Colonialism”
- Sarah Cole, “Violence and Vanishing: The Education of Augie Merasty and the Silenced Indigenous History of Residential Schools”
- Tyler Owens, “Briefing Note: Canadian Diplomatic Representation in Washington (Or, An Empire Divided Against Itself…)
- Ellen Case, “’I Trust That England Will Not Forget One Who Nursed Her Sick’: The Emergence of the British Nurse as Nationalist Icon in the Crimean War”
- Tanyss Sharp, “Female Spiritual Journeys: Physical and Virtual Pilgrimage in Early Modern Europe”
In 2014, Mary MacGregor, a student in Bruce Elliott’s Canadian urban history/Ottawa neighbourhoods class won the annual 2014 Colonel John By Award for an essay on the plans for a garden city suburb in Old Ottawa South and the site of Carleton campus. Her essay will be published in the Historical Society of Ottawa series.