Digital History

Spring 2019 • HIST 407
info | readings


This syllabus is from the most recent version of the course and is undergoing revision for Spring 2019. However, it will not change radically, and thus can still give you an idea of what this course is about.


  • T,TH 9:30 - 10:45
  • 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 points)
  • Spatial history research project (15 points)
  • 2 ~800-word critiques of digital history/humanities projects (10 points each; 20 total)
  • 2 Peer critiques (of the above critiques) (5 points each; 10 total)
  • 1 ~5-minute video website review. We’ll spend time in class discussing how to make these. But yes, they are videos, not written reviews. (20 points)

Grade Distribution

Points Grade
94+ A
90-94 A-
87-89 B+
83-86 B
80-82 B-
77-79 C+
73-76 C
70-72 C-
67-69 D+
60-66 D
59- F

Please Ask for Help

I heartily encouraged you to speak with me at any time about how I think you’re doing in the class and how it can be improved (if at all). If life gets overwhelming during the course, it can be tempting to drift away from an elective course like this. Rather than disappear, please come talk with me about how we can accommodate your circumstances and thus avoid digging a huge hole from which it becomes increasingly difficult to escape.


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

UNM Resources

CAPS Tutoring Services is a free-of-charge educational assistance program available to UNM students enrolled in classes. Online services include the Online Writing Lab, Chatting with or asking a question of a Tutor.

Students with Disabilities

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodations of their disabilities. If you have a disability requiring accommodation, please contact me immediately to make arrangements as well as Accessibility Services Office in 2021 Mesa Vista Hall at 277-3506 or Information about your disability is confidential.

Academic Misconduct

You should be familiar with UNM’s Policy on Academic Dishonesty and the Student Code of Conduct which outline academic misconduct defined as plagiarism, cheating, fabrication, or facilitating any such act.