Syllabus-Spring 2013

Course Description

Digital History is a branch of the Digital Humanities concerned with the the creation and critical application of digital technologies to further historical scholarship, develop scholarly communities, and present academic research to non-academic groups. It ranges from the basic aspects of digitization and website creation to social networking to GIS, text mining and analysis, quantitative corpus linguistics, database creation and management, data curation, and data visualization. This course will introduce students to the basic theory and practice of Digital History, especially as it relates to Public History. At the end of this course students will have a clear understanding of the potentials and pitfalls of Digital History, both in practice and theory.  Students’ final projects will identify a specific problem faced by local Public History professionals and design a solution that integrates their research into Digital History.

 Course and Objectives

Contrary to what you may have learned in secondary school, history is not a mass of facts waiting to be memorized and organized into a chronological narrative.  History is a discipline that requires its practitioners to exercise their critical and analytical skills to interpret the past.  Historians must be able to uncover and comprehend a wide variety of historical sources whether they are textual, visual, material, or aural.  Applying their understanding of these sources to various questions, which are themselves often the result of specific historical circumstances, historians do their best to approximate an objective representation of the human past.

In this course, you are all historians.  Therefore, the assignments will encourage you to improve your ability to communicate effectively through writing and speech, to critically think about the course material, and to integrate and apply your knowledge in a variety of contexts.  This course will challenge you on many levels.  You will need to refine your understanding of the methodologies of the historical profession and use this knowledge to better understand a diverse array of societies, including their political, social, and cultural traditions.

Required Readings

A list of required books is available here.  Each individual lecture lists both required and assigned readings.

Study Habits

While most students know what study habits will make them successful students, many of them do not apply what they know.  So, it is worthwhile to reconsider your study habits.

Time management is one of the most difficult things to master, especially when you have other responsibilities in addition to class.  So, when scheduling your courses, it is useful for you to know how the university, your professors, and even the government (in calculating your student aid eligibility) look at each course.  Taking courses is like taking a job, and each course requires you to set aside a specific amount of time each week.  A realistic, rough guide to how much time the average graduate student needs to spend on each course is studying 4-5 hours for every credit hour per week.  This is in addition to time in the classroom.  Thus, for a three-credit course, you should set aside a 12-15 hours per week.

Taking notes in class is another thing with which some student struggle.  I may use PowerPoint presentations in class and post them after class.  It is important to keep in mind that the PowerPoint outlines are merely a guide, and you will have to take substantial supplementary notes in class (including, during in-class discussions).  The most important things that you should be asking yourself when deciding what to take notes on are:

  1. Why is this significant?
  2. How does this relate to the themes of the course/lecture?
  3. How does this relate to the other topics that we have discussed so far?
  4. What does the professor consider particularly important?

Taking notes in class will not assure you success in this course.  You should review them within 24 hours of taking them, asking yourself questions in the margins on topics that seem unclear.  You should ask for answers to these questions in class or in office hours.  If you review and revise your notes on a regular basis, you will not need to “cram” at test time.

This course has a moderate reading load for a graduate level course.  Nevertheless, be sure should to set aside time devoted to read each week.  Ideally, you will do your reading in small, consistent steps rather than last minute “cram sessions.”  Remember, some of your reading is relatively difficult and may take longer than you expected.  When reading, you should not mark sections of your book with a highlighter.  This will be virtually useless to you when you need to discuss your reading in class or study for your quizzes.  Instead, you should take notes on a separate sheet of paper, noting the author’s thesis, historiographical significance, methodology, and main points.  You should be able to critique the work in addition to comprehend the work if you have read properly.

For more information on notetaking, see Sherrie Nist-Olejnik and Jodi Patrick Holschuh, College Rules!: How to Study, Survive and Succeed in College2nd ed. (Ten Speed Press, 2007). ISBN-10: 1580088384


You are responsible for all announcements that I make during lecture, on Twitter (#iupuidh), or on the course blog.  If there is any adjustment to the syllabus, I will announce it in class or through email.  If for any reason you do not attend the class, you are still responsible for any announcements that I make.  Be sure to contact a fellow student who is responsible and can relay the information to you.  You are responsible for checking your email, twitter feed, and course blog regularly.  You may email me for clarification on any assignments you may have missed


Your fees pay for UITS, the University Information Technology Specialists.  You should take advantage of their expertise.  Their contact information is as follows.

  • Telephone: 317-274-4357 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
  • Email: (Allow one business day for a reply)
  • Walk-in: IT 129 (Mon-Thurs 8am-9pm; Fri 8am-5pm; Sat 9am-3pm; Sun noon-4pm; Weekdays when class is not in session: 8am-5pm; Weekends when class is not in session: closed; Closed for some holidays)


The grade breakdown is as follows:

 Participation/Discussion/Presentations 30%

Blog Posts 30%

Final Project 30%

Online Participation (Twitter, blog discussion) 10%

Scale: A=90-100, B+=87-89, B=83-86, B-=80-82, C+=77-79, C=73-76, C-=70-72, D+=67-69, D=63-66, D-=60-62 F=0-59

I will give you specifics about assignments during lecture and online.

Your assignments should be completed before class on the day that they are due.  If you do not submit a digital copy before class, your assignment will be late.  If you turn your assignment in late, you will lose 20 percentage points per day.  If you neglect to complete any coursework, you will fail the course.

If you cannot complete a required assignment due to extraordinary circumstances, it is your responsibility to contact me within 48 hours to discuss it.  I expect official written documentation confirming your extraordinary circumstance. Note that if a non-IUPUI computer crashes, loses its internet connection, or does not function properly, this is not an extraordinary circumstance.  If an on-campus computer does not work properly, you must contact its administrator immediately.  I will require written confirmation from the administrator that the computer did not function properly if I decide to allow you to make up an assignment or essay.

If you cannot be in class when an assignment is due because of a scheduling, you must let me know by Lecture 2.  After Lecture 2, I will not make exceptions to class policy.  Note that I do not consider a vacation a scheduling conflict.

If you desire to dispute a grade, you may submit an explanation to me in writing. State your points of contention and your reasons for them.  Upon review of your assignment, I reserve the right to raise, lower, or keep your grade the same.  If you are not in class on the day I give back your assignment, you must get your grade from me promptly.


This course meets once a week.  ATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY!!!  I expect you to arrive to class on time.  Keep in mind that parking near Cavanaugh Hall can be difficult to find at times, so be sure to plan your commute accordingly.  There are a variety of parking options.  For more information see

If you have questions about the administrative withdrawal policy at any point during the semester, please see

For information on the academic calendar, late drop, fees, etc.,

Preparation and participation are integral components to success in this course. Make sure that you spend time reading and analyzing the required texts BEFORE you arrive at lecture. I expect each of you to share your thoughts throughout the semester. Discussions with your peers are some of the most entertaining and educational times you spend in class, so come prepared to debate. BRING YOUR READINGS WITH YOU!!!  If you would like to discuss readings with me, be sure to take advantage of my office hours. I expect you to be prepared to discuss the course themes, lectures, and readings during every lecture.  We will have discussions every day.

At IUPUI, Adaptive Educational Services (AES) works to make campus life and learning accessible for students with disabilities. AES assists students in achieving their educational goals through such services as note taking, interpreting, and test proctoring.  Visit the AES webpage at: or call them at 317.274.3241.

There are a number of campus-wide policies governing the conduct of courses at IUPUI. These can be found at:

Classroom Etiquette

The classroom is a space for learning.  Therefore, it is every student’s responsibility to foster a productive educational atmosphere.  This means that cell phones, SMS and Blackberry messaging devices, and similar devices must be turned off and put away unless you are participating in the course backchannel or obtain special permission from me.  Newspapers, books, and materials from other courses must also be put away.

If you are late to class, try to make as little a disturbance as possible.  If you need to leave early, please inform me before class begins and sit near the door to avoid disturbing your fellow students. I request that you do not bring children to class with you.

Anything you post online or say in class must conform to the standards of polite and constructive dialogue.  This does not mean that you cannot disagree with another person.  It just means that you should disagree politely.  If I feel that you are not abiding by the standards of polite etiquette, I will notify you.  For those of you looking for more information on internet etiquette, see

In cases of student misconduct in the classroom or online, I will follow the procedures outlined in

Students may not make unauthorized video or audio recordings of lectures without prior written approval. For more information, please see me.

Plagiarism and Cheating

I will not tolerate either of these. Cheating includes copying answers from another student or bringing notes to an examination or quiz. Plagiarism is using the words or ideas of another person in your work and presenting them as your own. I will fail you for either of these. Additionally, I will report you to the Dean of Student Affairs. If you have any questions as to what constitutes plagiarism or cheating, see me or see the “Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct” online at

IUPUI Counseling and Psychological Services (IUPUI CAPS) 

IUPUI CAPS provides counseling services to assist students with a wide range of concerns, including but not limited to:

  • Anxiety/Phobias
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Grief/Loss
  • Parenting
  • Relationships
  • Stress & Time Management
  • Study Skills
  • Test Anxiety
  • Trauma/Recovery

Many issues are addressed through one-to-one meetings with an individual counselor.

Relationship counseling is also available for two individuals wishing to address concerns between them. Relationship counseling may be appropriate for intimate couples, friends, roommates, etc. At least one individual must be an IUPUI student.   Group counseling is also available. Groups are often formed around specific concerns or interests.

Contact CAPS by:

  • Phone – (317) 274-2548
  • Email –
  • Visit – Union Building, room 418
  • Office Hours – 9am – 4pm M-F; evening hours T, W, R by appointment only

If you or someone you know needs emergency services outside of CAPS hours, contact:

  • Crisis & Suicide Hotline at (317) 251-7575
  • Midtown Mental Health Center (24 hours) at (317) 630-8485
  • BehaviorCorp (24 hours) at (317) 574-1252
  • or contact your nearest emergency room.


Assignment Outline

1/7/13 1 Introduction Assignment (details are available on the weekly page entry)
1/14/13 2 What is Digital Humanities? Verify that you have signed up for Zotero, Twitter, and WordPress.Complete the tutorial on “Blogging.”Post at least three tweets to #iupuidh that will be relevant and useful to your classmates.  Feel free to reply and retweet posts.
1/28/13 3 The Theories of History/The Theories of Digital History Blog Post: What is Digital History?WordPress Weekly CommentsWeekly Twitter Assignment
2/4/13 4 Metadata/XML/TEI and the Semantic Web Blog Post (500 words): Online Digital HistoryWeekly Twitter AssignmentWeekly WordPress Comment Assignment
2/11/13 5 Textual Analysis and Theory Blog Post (500 words): Response to MorettiWeekly Twitter AssignmentWeekly WordPress Comment Assignment
2/18/13 6 Exhibitions and Gamification Blog Post (500 words): The Digital Word and Museums in IndianapolisWeekly Twitter AssignmentWeekly WordPress Comment Assignment
2/25/13 7 Data, Textual Analysis, and the Historian Blog Post (500 words):  The Old Bailey OnlineWeekly Twitter AssignmentWeekly WordPress Comment Assignment
3/4/13 8 Big Data: Mining and Visualization Blog Post (500 words): The Digging into Data ChallengeWeekly Twitter AssignmentWeekly WordPress Comment Assignment
3/18/13 9 Critical Theory and the Politics of Digital History
3/25/13 10 Digital History and the Commons
4/1/13 11 Digital History and the Commons: Who Owns History?
4/8/13 12 Databases
4/15/13 13 Spatial Analysis I: GIS
4/22/13 14 Spatial Analysis II: Social Network Visualization, Textual Visualization
4/29/13 15 Poster Session and Conclusion
5/6/13 16 Final Final Project Due