Students will plan a digital history project based on a collection of historical documents (whether already physically gathered or gathered only in digital form). Students may select this collection from their own institution or historical research focus, or may create a project based upon a collection of sources available at Bobst Library. Students must define the topic of this collection within the first two weeks of the semester, as it will become the basis for most course assignments.
Environmental Scan (5% for presentation, 8% for written comparison)
One of the most important things you should do when contemplating a digital history project is to learn all you can about the environment in which the project will operate. Focus on two issues, your topic and the genre. What is already on the web on your topic? Who has produced it? What kinds of resources (images, documents, analysis, etc.) are available? Is what is already there good? If not, why not? How would your project supplement or supplant what already exists? Next, think about how the kinds of materials that you want to put on the web have been handled by others. If your project centers on a diary—look for other sites that mount diaries. If your site will include a range of materials, find other sites that deal with variety to see how they organize and enable searching. Here you are not looking for examples of poor handling, but of innovative uses of material that can help you develop your project.
Draft Essays (35% of final grade)
Throughout the semester, you will draft short essays on your plans for your project relating to the issues covered in the readings and discussions.
Final Project (45% of final grade)
You will work on a grant proposal for a digital history project throughout the course of the semester. Each week you will draft 2-3 page essays that describe one portion of your project that relates to the readings that week (selection, digitization, management, etc.) You will comment on classmates' essays and then revise your drafts based on class and instructor feedback to create your final proposal. You will need to create samples for the proposal—sample scans or transcriptions, website maps, and additional materials that demonstrate your understanding of how the goals of the project will be handled in practice. Final proposal due May 7, 2012.
Class participation (7%)
Students are expected to participate fully in class discussions and comment on each other's essays.
Grading and feedback
Grades for essays, class presentation, and environmental scan project will be posted on Blackboard as soon as possible. Late work will be penalized unless you clear it with me beforehand.