Kalani Craig, Ph.D.

Spring 2017: Digital History


  1. H301 Digital History
  2. MicroHistory Assignment Description
  3. Course Readings
  4. Digital-History Tools
  5. Assignments and grading
  6. Learning Objectives
  7. Conduct (Yours and Ours)
  8. Course Calendar

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H301 Digital History

with Professor Kalani Craig in Ballantine Hall 206 on T/Th from 2:30-3:45pm

How many times in an hour do you check your smart phone? How much of the information you get about the world around you—and about the world that came before the smart phone—comes via a connection to the internet?

From iPhones to networked refrigerators, the narrative of digital tool is a central part of our lives at home and in the higher-education classroom. This class will look at the overlap between “digital” and “history”—both the good, and the bad—as we examine three approaches to crafting history with digital tools: text mining, network analysis and spatial history.


Course Crumbtrail (In-class activities)

2017-01-10: What is digital history

2017-01-17: What about technology, part I: aka Bob and Sue, the Facebook-archive breakup

  • 1 Hypotheses.JPG could not be included in the ePub document. Please see separate zip file for access.
  • 2 Revised Hypothesis 1.JPG could not be included in the ePub document. Please see separate zip file for access.
  • 2 Revised Hypothesis 2.JPG could not be included in the ePub document. Please see separate zip file for access.
  • 2 Final Evidence Matrix.JPG could not be included in the ePub document. Please see separate zip file for access.

2017-01-19: What about technology, part II: Technology and historiography

2017-01-24: Lacunae (the holes in history)

2017-01-26: Digital vs physical primary sources

2017-01-26: MacroHistory and Microhistory (Evidence vs Data: text and network analysis)

2017-02-02: Indiana, Our Indiana (Evidence vs Data: mapping)

2017-02-07: Theophilus Wylie and IUB's version of a Hoosier

  • A sample project proposal from Shawn Martin

2017-02-09: Text Mining: Bloomington Faculty Council Minutes and the Indiana Magazine of History

2017-02-14: Moving from Text to Maps

2017-02-16 Mapping and Visualizing Data

2017-02-23 Photogrammetry

2017-02-23 Digital History Argumentation

  • Digital History Argumentation.pptx, aka how to:
    • Write interpretive and causal thesis statements
    • Structure a paragraph
    • Write good subarguments
    • Warrant evidence

2017-03-23 Material Culture, Makerspaces and Digital History

2017-04-04 Your Work In Progress

2017-04-06 Your Work in Progress (part 3)

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MicroHistory Assignment Description

  • Draft research question and bibliography due in week 5 (Feb 10)
  • Annotated bibliography due in week 7 (Feb 24)
  • Bullet-point rough draft due in week 8 (March 3)
  • Prose rough draft due in week 9 (March 10)
  • Final draft due in week 10 with in-class peer review and group-project design (March 23)


The object

Why is the object important?

What major historical trends/shifts/events/cultures/societies does this object help illuminate?

  • For instance, does a 2017 MacBook Pro help us understand global trade and the diplomacy and economic issues that make the MacBook Pro production chain possible?

The object’s environment

  • Other primary source/archival material that helps make this clear
  • Other secondary source material that helps make this clear

What problems does this object present in terms of understanding historical trends?

For instance:

  • Do we lack information about who created the object, or is it incomplete?
  • Is it the only object of its kind, or is it too common to place in a specific historical context?

What major research question can we ask about our historical object? What answer can we provide?


    How might digital methods help us understand this object in historical context?

    • What digital methods help us understand the historical context?
    • What other primary sources exist?
    • What do we need to do to the primary sources to make these digital methods possible? 


    Course Readings

    There are two required books necessary for success in this course. Other readings are linked online from the syllabus.

    • James H. Madison, Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana (Bloomington: Indiana University Press; Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press, 2014). ISBN 9780253013088, available in electronic form from IUCat and from TIS and Amazon.
    • Nigel A. Raab, Who is the Historian? (Guelph, Ontario: University of Toronto Press, 2016). ISBN 9781442635722. Available from TIS and Amazon.

    Also useful: http://www.wfyi.org/programs/hoosiers though this does not replace the text book.

    How to read for a history class

    Reading should be complete before class begins on the date the reading is assigned.

    You should always skim assigned readings in their entirety quickly before returning to read closely. The first pass--a quick skim of the contents for basic structure, important names/dates/places/events, and themes--sets you up for a closer re-read of the text. The second close-read pass helps you fill in details, put those details in context, and make more careful decisions about what the author intended his or her readers to do, think, or believe.

    While this seems awkward at first, a skim pass gives you a better feel for what’s in the text, which means you’ll get more out of your second, closer reading pass. In the long run, this two-stage system is also faster.

    Digital-History Tools

    Text mining (from easy/online to slightly more difficult):

    Spatial History

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    Assignments and grading

    The assignment system in this course allows me to acknowledge the level of effort you invest in attempting new skills without requiring instant mastery of those new skills. In all categories, demonstrable improvement throughout the semester will be rewarded. 

    To take full advantage of this mastery assessment process, you should attend class, participate in discussion and peer review, complete response revisions in a timely fashion and demonstrate ongoing effort throughout the semester.

    Weekly reflections: 12 short in-class writing assignments that will ask you to reflect on how that week’s in-class encounters with digital tools tie to the weekly readings. In order to emphasize the revision process in any historical research endeavor, the reflection process will include peer review and time to revise your response. As the semester progresses, these exercises will become more complex, which allows you to exercise newly acquired skills with very low risk initially. To encourage further risk taking and to encourage mastery rather than completion, I will drop the two lowest reflections. However, especially as the semester continues, these reflections will ask you to draft and revise information you will need to use for your individual and collaborative projects. As such, they will therefore be worth progressively more in the overall scheme of your grade. 20 pts.

    Individual project proposal and bibliography: This project, due in week 10, will hone your individual research skills by asking you to choose a single object from the IU archives. You will use this object to anchor an annotated bibliography of secondary sources, a proposed base of digitized primary sources and a proposed approach using one of the digital methodologies we encounter in the first half of the semester. The individual project will form the basis of a larger group project you’ll undertake during the last six weeks of the semester. 20 pts.

    Digital history collaboration: The second half of the semester will focus on developing a small-scale group historical project using one or more of the digital tools you’ve encountered to analyze, and present your analysis of, documents in the IUB archives. This collaboration grade will be adjusted based on a 2-page response paper that asks you to defend specific choices you made in your contributions to the group project and on anonymous peer review of your contribution to the project. 40 pts (35 from the group project and 5 from the response paper)

    Course engagement: Getting involved in a historical conversation, whether in person or in writing, is the single most important task a historian undertakes. Adding your voice to in-class discussion and providing peer reviews of other students’ projects will help you hone your historical thinking skills by exposing you to alternative viewpoints. These activities will also improve your ability to communicate critiques of your peers’ analytical and writing skills in both oral and written form. Students who attend regularly and do the reading in advance but do not bring written notes to class, contribute to class activities or participate fully in group projects and peer review will earn a maximum of half of the possible participation points. Class disruptions, such as audible talking or cellphones ringing, will lead to deductions from the course-engagement grade. 20 pts.

    Attendance: You may miss two classes without penalty. If you know you'll be gone in advance, it's helpful to let me know. Otherwise, I don't distinguish between excused and unexcused for these two absences and I don't need notes.

    Beyond these two classes, you will lose 2 points for each additional absence. Students with extended or chronic illnesses are not subject to the 2-class penalty; however, these absences will require documentation and makeups for in-class responses will not be offered.

    Learning Objectives

    In this course, you will:

    • Explore three digital methodologies (text mining, network analysis and spatial history) that have various advantages and drawbacks for historians seeking to communicate their research findings to the public.
    • Expand your knowledge of the historical contexts that shape and are shaped by IUB’s founding and development into a modern 21st-century university.
    • Learn and hone your historical thinking skills* by:
      • Establishing the historical significance of IUB in global, national and local context.
      • Using primary-source evidence to build several perspectives about one facet of IUB’s history.
      • Understanding the ethical dimension of historical interpretations as you encounter and use a variety of digital tools.
    • Enhance your argumentation and presentation skills--in oral, visual, and written form--through regular discussions and digital-media assignments focused on presenting the results of your historical thinking.

    * Dimensions of historical thinking drawn from http://historicalthinking.ca/historical-thinking-concepts

    Conduct (Yours and Ours)

    Conduct (Ours and Yours)

    Your personal conduct

    I expect you to treat course participants and instructional staff with respect. Respect is not the same as agreement. Respect means using respectful language when stating your ideas, asking questions or disagreeing with others. In class it means avoiding disruptive behavior (talking to other students outside of discussion, using laptops or cellphones for unrelated work). Smartphones, tablets and laptops are welcome in my classroom, but only when they are used for work directly related to our class inquiry.

    There are resources available on campus if you have a disability for which you need additional considerations, or a personal issue outside of class that is interfering in your ability to maintain normal participation in daily life, but you need to take the first step.

    Your academic conduct

    "Plagiarism—A student must not adopt or reproduce ideas, words, or statements of another person without appropriate acknowledgment. A student must give credit to the originality of others and acknowledge an indebtedness whenever he or she does any of the following:

    Quotes another person's actual words, either oral or written;

    Paraphrases another person's words, either oral or written;

    Uses another person's idea, opinion, or theory; or

    Borrows facts, statistics, or other illustrative material, unless the information is common knowledge."

    Quoted from Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct, Part III, Student Misconduct, Academic Misconduct

    This is the grossest form of academic dishonesty. Plagiarism will result in an automatic failing grade in the course. The case will also be forwarded to the appropriate administrators for disciplinary action. IU-Bloomington general course policies are available at http://registrar.indiana.edu/stu_infopoli.shtml

    I do utilize plagiarism-detection software (Turnitin, etc.) when I suspect there has been academic misconduct.

    Our conduct

    This syllabus has thus far emphasized what you are supposed to do, but instructors have responsibilities too. We will treat you with respect, encourage a comfortable classroom environment, and return your assignments with constructive comments in a timely fashion. We will be in class as scheduled, on time, and be available for office hours. We will answer email promptly (within 24-36 hours, again barring unforeseen circumstances) and are happy to schedule additional office hours to discuss your work, any difficulties you may be having or to answer any questions you may be worried about asking in class. We're happy to talk more about the class but you need to take the first steps and ask.

    If you have a learning disability, a time conflict, or another issue that may impact your involvement in the course, we are happy to accommodate your documented needs. We simply need to know about these issues in advance of any assignments or other work that may be affected. Please come see us as soon as possible.

    You are encouraged to make an appointment with me to discuss papers and/or issues raised in class.

    Course Calendar


    Assignment 1 (in several parts): MicroHistory Assignment Description

    • Draft research question and bibliography due in week 5 (Feb 10)
    • Annotated bibliography due in week 7 (Feb 24)
    • Bullet-point rough draft due in week 8 (March 3)
    • Prose rough draft due in week 9 (March 10)
    • Final draft due in week 10 with in-class peer review (March 23)

    Assignment 2 (in several parts): Group digital-history context and project for each of your MicroHistories.

    • Group-project concepts in class during week 10 (March 23)
    • Draft presentation in week 14

    Weeks 1-3: How do “digital” and “history” fit together?

    Week 1: What is digital history?

    Reading (due Th 1/11): Nigel Raab, Who is the Historian, Introduction and pp 1-45.

    In-class digital encounter: An introduction to the three technologies we’ll use this semester: text mining, network analysis, and neogeography.

    Week 2: What about technology


    Tuesday: Alex Roland, “Once More into the Stirrups: Lynn White Jr., ‘Medieval Technology and Social Change’ (Technology and Culture, Vol. 44, No. 3, Jul., 2003), pp. 574-585) Online in IUCAT. Find it by searching for the journal title at http://libraries.iu.edu/, and then searching in the journal itself; spend 15 minutes doing this. Then if you still can't find the PDF, cheat and use this link: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25148163?Search=yes&resultItemClick=true&searchText=Once&searchText=More&searchText=into&searchText=the&searchText=Stirrups&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3Ffilter%3Djid%253A10.2307%252Fj100388%26amp%3D%26Query%3DOnce%2BMore%2Binto%2Bthe%2BStirrups&seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

    Thursday: Skim the blog post topics at https://blogs.libraries.indiana.edu/iubarchives/ and choose two posts to read in their entirety.

    In-class digital encounter: Pen, paper and complex systems: the emergent properties of history and of the Internet as two separate (and more recently intertwined) systems. 

    Week 3: What do archives do for historians?

    CLASS ON THURSDAY JAN 26 WILL BE AT THE IUB ARCHIVES, NOT IN OUR STANDARD CLASSROOM. Wells E460 (East tower - take the elevators up to the 4th floor and the archives will be to your right).

    Reading: Nigel Raab, Who is the Historian, pp 46-119.

    In-class digital encounter: The differences between physical and digital archives, including a trip to the IUB archives.

    Weeks 4-6: How can we use digital history to understand IUB?

    Week 4: What does it mean to be a Hoosier

    Reading: James Madison, Hoosiers, 2-53, 96-117, 190-212

    In-class digital encounter: Excel and data cleanup for historians

    Assignment due (Feb 3): Narrow selection of object from IUB archives to 3 artifacts.

    Week 5: Where does IUB fit in that Hoosier world?

    Read: James Madison, Hoosiers, 254-274, 332-338

    Watch: https://media.dlib.indiana.edu/media_objects/avalon:4136

    In-class digital encounter: text mining with word clouds and frequency analysis. For Thursday: Download a text editor (http://www.barebones.com/products/TextWrangler/ for Mac or http://www.sublimetext.com/2 for either Mac or Windows)

    Assignment due (Feb 10): Draft research question and bibliography

    Week 6: What does the digital turn do for historians? What should we worry about?

    Reading: William J. Turkel, Shezan Muhammedi, and Mary Beth Start, “Grounding Digital History in the History of Computing“ in IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, Volume 36, Number 2, April-June 2014, pp. 72-75; Sherman Dorn, “Is (Digital) History More Than an Argument about the Past?,” in Jack Dougherty and Kristen Nawrotzki, eds., Writing History in the Digital Age,  (University of Michigan, final 2013 publisher version; accessed May 22, 2015).

    In-class digital tool encounter: Neogeography and maps as malleable objects

    Weeks 7-16: How can we present our findings using digital tools?

    Week 7: Topic modeling, corpus linguistics and historical documents

    Reading and tool workshop: Ben Schmidt, “When you have a MALLET, everything looks like a nail” in Sapping Attention (Nov 2, 2012; accessed May 28, 2015); Michelle Moravec, “Corpus Linguistics for Historians” in History in the City (Dec 2013; accessed May 28, 2015)

    Assignment due (Feb 24): Annotated bibliography

    Week 8: Centrality and network analysis in historical networks

    Reading and tool workshop: Scott B. Weingart, “Demystifying Networks, Parts I & II” in Journal of Digital Humanities, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter 2011, accessed May 20, 2015).

    Assignment due (March 3): Bullet-point rough draft

    Week 9: hGIS and the Resurgence of Spatial History

    Reading and tool workshop: Anne Kelly Knowles, “Has Historical GIS Arrived?: A Review of Toward Spatial Humanities” in Southern Spaces, Oct 2014 (Accessed June 12, 2016)

    Assignment due (March 10): Prose rough draft

    Week 10: What should we worry about as digital historians?

    CLASS ON TUESDAY MARCH 21 WILL BE IN M.I.L.L., the School of Education's makerspace (Wright 2260): http://education.indiana.edu/collaboration-outreach/outreach/mill/index.html

    Reading: Your own sources

    Assignment due (March 23): Final draft due, with in-class peer review

    Week 11: Workshop

    Data collection: Reminder to take photos of the buildings and commemorative plaques you pass as you walk through campus.

    Reading: In-group peer-reading assignment from a peer’s draft bibliography. Consider how this supports the central thesis of the group's page and how it might provide support for, or counter-argument to, your specific thesis.

    March 30:

    Student Engagement/Enrollment: Greg, https://grantland.com/the-triangle/rivalry-indiana-purdue-big-ten-ncaa-basketball-bob-knight-gene-keady-tom-crean-matt-painter-isiah-thomas-glenn-robinson/

    Campus Development: student name redactedhttp://go.iu.edu/1tEJ

    Global Impact: student name redactedH301 Source for 3/23 - student name redacted

    Week 12: Workshop

    Reading: In-group peer-reading assignment from a peer’s draft bibliography. Consider how this supports the central thesis of the group's page and how it might provide support for, or counter-argument to, your specific thesis.

    April 4:

    Data collection: Photos of student buildings

    Student Engagement/Enrollment: student name redactedhttps://www.architecture.com/Explore/ArchitecturalStyles/Architecturalstyles.aspx

    Campus Development: student name redactedhttps://iu.instructure.com/files/69343945/download?download_frd=1&verifier=OZOIt4Tk6AfSzLT0wzI8UfI0yTIbR1upGSpJiNmU

    Global Impact: student name redactedhttps://iu.box.com/s/eoevxhzmirswet5qjzz6i6u4155jwt29

    April 6:

    Data collection: Baseball in Japan (John)

    Student Engagement/Enrollment: student name redactedhttp://indianapublicmedia.org/news/word-hoosier-indiana-researchers-find-115526/ (with video)

    Campus Development: Revisit student name redacted's at http://go.iu.edu/1tEJ

    Global Impact: student name redactedVincent, Louise; Stevenson, Sasha Rethinking rugby and the rainbow nation Journal ofAfrican Media Studies, Volume 2, Number 3, 1 November 2010

    Week 13: Who Writes Our History?

    April 11:

    Data collection: Post WWII enrollment growth and the GI bill (student name redacted)

    Student Engagement/Enrollment: student name redacted, http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/devin.pope/research/pdf/Website_SEJ%20Sports.pdf

    Campus Development: Revisit student name redacted's one more time at http://go.iu.edu/1tEJ

    Global Impact: student name redactedhttp://dx.doi.org.proxyiub.uits.iu.edu/10.1080/14649373.2012.717600

    April 13:  Harry Klinkhamer, “Where are the citizen historians?”, in Public History Commons (November, 2014; accessed May 31, 2015). Data collection: TBA. Claim this spot!

    In-class digital tool encounter: A consideration of crowd-sourcing.

    Week 14: You Write Our History, That’s Who.

    Assignment due: In-class presentations of in-progress group projects. Students will act as consultants on three axes for their peers: historical analysis of content, technical analysis of tools/digital methods chosen, audience analysis for clarity of presentation and communication.

    Week 15: Workshop

    Week 16 (finals week): Final presentation

    Assignment due: In-class presentations of final group projects, with formal peer review comments. 1 hour of finals time slot will be allotted for revisions in response to formal peer review comments after the presentation.

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