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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: Doing history in the digital age (HIST10408)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryAn introduction to the effects of digitization and the internet on historical research and its dissemination, exploring the range of software that can be used to ask new questions of historical records. The course will develop digital literacy skills, at the same time as developing a critical approach to digital history projects, and the concepts that underpin them.
Course description Digitization has transformed the potentials for the research, writing and dissemination of historical knowledge. Simultaneously, the advent of web-based social media is reshaping the accessibility of academic history, and suggests new methods for conducting and disseminating historical research. The emerging fields within Digital Humanities include Digital History. This course will explore the implications of the 'computational turn' for the research, writing and dissemination of history, considering Digital History in relation to the histories of information, and the book, and more widely within Cultural and Public History.
Examining the scholarly applications of technology that enable researchers to analyze primary sources at a scale not previously possible, this course will ask students to engage critically with the potentials and problems associated with Digital History. In particular, weekly seminars will explore the research potentials of text-mining, mapping and crowd-sourcing for historians, as well as examining the applications of social media, such as blogs and twitter to the research and dissemination processes. We will also develop the intellectual tools students need to critique the sources they are increasingly using for research online.
At the same time, weekly worksheets will help to develop students' digital literacy skills, in their own study time, enabling them to develop their own small digital projects within a scholarly environment, which is also informed by the public potentials of such projects. Students will also contribute to a weekly class blog relating to the topic under discussion in the seminar of that week. They will also be asked to follow a class twitter account which will feed them the latest information on digital humanities software and projects for them to explore.

Seminar topics
1. Introduction to Digital History; setting up twitter and blog access, online searching and bibliographic, tagging and filing tools
2. Histories of Information and the book
3. Digitization and the computational turn: potentials and problems for history
4. Visualisation and digital images
5. Text-mining: Moretti and 'distant reading'
6. Data-mining and network visualisation: the Old Bailey records
7. Digital mapping, and geo-referencing: spatial history
8. Individual meetings to discuss and feedback on coursework digital projects.
9. Crowd-sourcing: the Bentham transcription project
10. Social media: potentials and problems for research and dissemination
11. Summary of literature and supervised project development
Digital literacy skills training in the weekly worksheets includes worksheets on: Google Ngram, Voyant, ManyEyes, Palladio, FieldTrip, DIgimap, Neatline, TileMill, Access, Wordpress, Visualising Urban Geographies mapbuilder.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the main theories of Digital History, and an awareness of current Digital Humanities projects. They will also be able to position the potentials of Digital History within other historical fields.
  2. Show critical skills in evaluating and problematising digital history projects, and execute a small digital research project.
  3. Show generic cognitive skills including the scholarly use of social media, and writing for various genres, which will be assessed via class online participation.
  4. Demonstrate digital literacy and IT skills associated with the practice of Digital History, using a range of software.
  5. The ability to work independently on individual research projects, developing their own voice within social media forums, and work with a team on developing a digital project.
Reading List
Cohen, D. and R. Rosenzweig. Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web (Philadelphia, 2007).
Weller, Martin, Digital scholar: how technology is transforming scholarly practice (London, 2011)
Weller, Toni, History in the Digital Age (London, 2013)
Weller, Toni, Information History in the Modern World: Histories of the Information Age (Basingstoke, 2011)
Schreibman, Susan, Ray Siemens and John Unsworth (eds.), A Companion to Digital Humanities (Oxford, 2004)
Gold, Matthew K. (ed.), Debates in the Digital Humanities (Minneapolis, 2012)
Weel, Adrian van der, Changing our Textual Minds: Towards a digital order of knowledge (Manchester, 2011)
Michel, Jean-Baptiste, et al., 'Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books', Science, 331:6014 (2011), 176-182
Gregory, Ian N., and Paul S. Ell, Historical GIS: technologies, methodologies and scholarship, Cambridge studies in historical geography, 39 (Cambridge, 2007)
Knowles, Anne Kelly (ed.), Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are Changing Historical Scholarship (Redland, 2008)
Finkelstein, David, and Alistair McCleery (eds.), The Book History Reader, 2nd ed. (Abingdon, 2006)
Journals: History and Computing (to 2007); International journal of humanities and arts computing; Digital Humanities Quarterly (from 2007); Journal of Digital Humanities (open-access, online)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills openness to new ideas, methods and ways of thinking
independence as a learner, with readiness to take responsibility for one's own learning, and commitment to continuous reflection, self-evaluation and self-improvement
ability to make decisions on the basis of rigorous and independent thought.
ability to test, modify and strengthen one's own views through collaboration and debate
ability to make effective use of oral, written and visual means convey understanding of historical issues and one's interpretation of them.
ability to marshal argument lucidly and coherently
ability to collaborate and to relate to others
ability to transfer knowledge, learning, skills and abilities flexibly from one context to another
ability to work effectively with others, capitalising on diversities of thinking, experience and skills
KeywordsDigital Age
Course organiserDr Anna Groundwater
Tel: 0131 (6)50 2553
Course secretaryMiss Clare Guymer
Tel: (0131 6)50 4030
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