Digital Futures of History

Fall 2017 • HIST 300-018
info | readings


  • TH 3:30 - 4:45 @ 214 Mitchell
  • Fred Gibbs ( @ 1077 Mesa Vista Hall
  • Office Hours: T 2-3; Th 10-11

Course Description

This interdisciplinary course explores the effects of the digital age on producing and consuming history. Some guiding questions:

  • How are historians adapting research and publication practices to use digitized archives and historical data?
  • How does technology shape our access to the past?
  • How does the Web change the kinds and forms of history that should be produced?
  • How does the Web (and resources like Wikipedia) change perceptions of history?
  • How can historians engage with these methods to improve information literacy?

In addressing these questions, we’ll draw from contemporary readings in history, public history, historiography, digital humanities, literary studies, media studies, and library and museum studies. Along with our readings, we will investigate a variety of digital history, archival, and journalistic projects that feature various digital methods (such as text analysis, mapping, data visualization, and so on). We’ll critique the various facets of these projects (data, design, interface, utility, etc.) to understand the technologies and data involved. Based on this work, we’ll collaboratively design and publish a website that showcases our rigorous reviews of these digital projects.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Think critically about how technology shapes our access to and interpretations of the past
  • Examine the impact of the digitization of cultural heritage and how digital archives reshape our access to the past
  • Begin to experiment with new tools, workflows, methods, and techniques for large-scale research questions in history
  • Identify cultural and algorithmic biases in searching for historical information
  • Critique how digital publishing challenges historical authority and expertise

Work Requirements and Grading

  • Thorough preparedness and engaged participation in most every class meeting. This is a class that’s focused on discussing and making things, not just memorizing and regurgitating a historical narrative. (35%)
  • Spatial history research project (15%)
  • 2 ~750-word critiques of digital history/humanities projects (20%)
  • 2 Peer critiques (of the above critiques) (10%)
  • 2 ~5-minute video website reviews. We’ll spend time in class discussing how to make these. But yes, they are videos, not written reviews. (20%)

While I try to provide feedback throughout the semester, particularly on the various assignments, I heartily encourage you to speak with me at any time to learn what I think of your performance in the class and how it can be improved (if at all).


The following books are required for the course, but they are not available at UNM bookstore. They are widely available online in whatever condition you desire.

  • Keith Jenkins, Rethinking History 3rd. ed. ISBN: 978-0415304436 amazon.
  • Ellen Lupton, Thinking with Type 2nd. ed. ISBN: 978-1568989693 amazon.

Note that there is a Thinking with Type website, but it DOES NOT substitute for the book itself, which has a tremendous amount of essential content that the website does not (not surprisingly). Browse the website if you’d like (it’s nicely done), but READ THE BOOK.

You will also need to subscribe to the course Zotero library to access assigned articles. This will be discussed in class, but for reference, please see the instructions for connecting. The URL for the group library is