Adventures in Digital History

What is Digital History?

As we start off a new semester at UMW, it is once again time to create an obligatory blog post introducing oneself and describing one’s goals for the upcoming semester. And that is exactly what I plan to do with this blog post. Please note that this blog post is for HIST 428 with Dr. McClurken. I have other blogs for other classes running on this same site, though I have recently had to delete some things because I had very, very little storage space left on my Domain.

Moving forward with introductions, my name is Lyndsey Clark. I am currently a second semester junior at UMW. I’m a double major in history and communications & digital studies (CDS). I decided to take this class for a variety of reasons. 1) This class can be used for credit in both the history and CDS majors, though I am aiming to use it for CDS because I have already fulfilled my 400-level requirements in the history major, 2) I am very interested in digital history and am even thinking about pursuing the doctorate program offered at George Mason University once I graduate from UMW, 3) Dr. McClurken is one of my favorite professors at UMW and this will be my fourth class I have taken with him thus far, and 4) I have previously worked on a work-in-progress design for the Venus Jones project when I took HIST 300ZZ with Dr. Devlin two semesters ago. I mentioned some of these points in the brief introduction we did on the first day of class, but here is the full layout of my motivation for taking this class for anyone that was interested.

What is digital history? From past experience with Dr. McClurken’s approach to digital history (which typically include digitally enhanced essays and one feature-length video documentary I created), I have concluded it to be the intersection of history and digital media to further historical research and analysis through the use of innovative, interesting, and accessible ways of presentation. I personally think history and CDS intersect in the form of digital history, and that is partly why I became so interested in the topic and this class.

What are digital humanities? To me, digital humanities are areas within a scholarly field that include the intersection of digital technologies to convey the information within that scholarly field or discipline. This includes not only a reflection of information being presented, but also a reflection of the means used to present that information and the work behind it. So, digital humanities would include digital representations of literature, art, etc.

Are they different? I would say yes. Digital history strikes me as being more aimed towards the mapping of events. I have seen digital history projects before that mainly present information, such as first-person narratives, or had maps representing something that is accompanied by an explanation. Essentially, digital history projects appear to have a set goal to present information on a certain topic. Digital humanities, however, I have seen used much more freely. It appears to be the study of how technology intersects with the humanities and how we use them. I suppose digital history could be included in that, but it is slightly different. Digital humanities can include simple things, like creating a program to generate poetry, having an AI read books, and so forth. I have seen quite a bit of this in digital studies, especially in coding classes.

Overall, I am very excited for this class! I have wanted to take it for over a year now, and I’m so happy I managed to get in! After the overview of the syllabus and knowing which long-term project I’ll be working on, I’m excited to see how things will pan out! Let’s hope we’ll have an amazing semester!

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