History 615:

The Syllabus

version 1.55



Roy Rosenzweig
History 615-005
Thursday: 0720PM 1000PM
Johnson Center 3111
Web page: http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/rr/f01/cw
Weeks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,15

WEEK 1: 30 August: Why History? Why New Media? Introduction and Requirements

Web History Scavenger Hunt and Answers

Search tips

WEEK 2: 6 September: WWW 101: Getting Yourself on the Web

Introduction to Dreamweaver and FTP by STAR staff

      Preparation: If you don't own Dreamweaver, download a free 30-day trial version from: http://www.macromedia.com/software/dreamweaver/trial/

(You don't need to do this ahead of time, but if you want some background on Dreamweaver, there is a downloadable tutorial available for Dreamweaver 4.0 at http://www.macromedia.com/support/dreamweaver/documentation/dreamweaver4_tut.html

If you don't have an Internet file transfer program (e.g. WS_FTP or Fetch), download one (e.g., from http://download.cnet.com/) Make sure you bring the password for your Mason (osf1) account, which is not necessarily the same password as for your Netscape Mail account, if you have that. (This is only relevant if you are going to post your Web site on mason.gmu.edu. Some students already have Web hosting space that they will use.)

Dreamweaver is also available on all the machines in web*STAR? ,<http://media.gmu.edu/web/webstar.html>, which is conveniently located outside our classroom: 311 Johnson Center (993-3766) Hours: 10:00 am to 10:00 pm Mon-Thurs; 10:00 am to 6 pm Fri, Noon to 7 Sun. According to their site: "The web*STAR lab provides peer mentors, to provide guidance and problem solving, and the latest in hardware--and when possible, software--to facilitate Web development activities."

Finally, you can purchase Dreamweaver for $99 (educational price) from Patriot Computers 9993-4100) in the Johnson Center http://compstore.gmu.edu/main.html. They also offer it in a package with the image editing program, Fireworks, for $149. If the program is out of stock, ask at the desk; they can get more copies within a couple of days.

            Read:  If you haven't built Web pages before:

Intro to HTML:<http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/96/53/index0a.html?tw=authoring>

HTML Teaching Tool: Read at least the following topics: View Source, Paragraphs, Headlines, Links, Mailtos, Bold/Italics, Font Color, Font size, Background Image, Background color, Blockquotes, Line breaks, Aligning text, Adding, Aligning Images < http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/teachingtool/index.html>

Reference: HTML Cheatsheet (Just review quickly; you don’t need to learn this): < http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/reference/html_cheatsheet/index.html>

Derek M. Powazek, The Basic, Basic Table  <http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/96/47/index3a.html?tw=authoring>

     Read: If you are not new to Web pages but don't know the following:

Frames Are a Picnic <http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/96/31/index3a.html?tw=authoring>

Linking in Framesets < http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/96/36/index2a.html?tw=authoring>

Mulder's Stylesheets Tutorial (at least lesson one; more if you have time) <http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/authoring/stylesheets/tutorials/tutorial1.html


Read: Michael O'Malley and Roy Rosenzweig, "Brave New World or Blind Alley? American History on the World Wide Web," Journal Of American History, (June 1997) <http://chnm.gmu.edu/chnm/jah.html>

Carl Smith, "Can You Do Serious History on the Web?" AHA Perspectives OnLine, February 1998 <http://www.theaha.org/perspectives/issues/1998/9802/9802COM.CFM>

Randy Bass, "Can American Studies find a Whole in the Net?' American Studies in Scandinavia (Fall 1996) <http://www.georgetown.edu/crossroads/guide/asins96.html>

Phil Agre, "Designing Genres for New Media: Social, Economic, and Political Contexts,"<http://dlis.gseis.ucla.edu/people/pagre/genre.html>

Visit and Evaluate: Don't just quickly browse; spend a significant amount of time (enough time to look at everything or, if you can't look at everything--certainly the case at Valley of the Shadow and the History Channel--then spend at least two hours):

The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War < http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/vshadow2/>

The History Channel <http://www.historychannel.com/>

Brainerd, Kansas: Time, Place, and Memory on the http://www.rootinaround.com/brainerd/

Do History <http://www.dohistory.org/>  

Write and Post on your web page: An evaluation (500-1000 words) of one these four sites, using the Journal of American History evaluation guidelines < http://chnm.gmu.edu/jah>. Note especially the questions in the key areas of content, form, audience/use, and new media.

In-class evaluation: http://echo.gmu.edu/surveys/contribute.php?survey=eval


WEEK 4: 20 September: Varieties of Digital History Continued

Improve your website and your Dreamweaver skills

Look further at the four websites

Review notes on articles


Read: John Naughton, A Brief History of the Future, preface, chapter 4 to end, on reserve or purchase.

Philip E. Agre, "Yesterday's tomorrow," Times Literary Supplement (1998), < http://dlis.gseis.ucla.edu/people/pagre/tls.html>

"The Electronic Hive: two Views:" "Refuse It" (Sven Birkerts) and "Embrace It" (Kevin Kelly)  <http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/rr/s01/cw/hive.html>

Roy Rosenzweig, "Wizards, Bureaucrats, Warriors, and Hackers: Writing the History of the Internet,"American Historical Review (December 1998). or online version at http://chnm.gmu.edu/chnm/wizards.html

John Seeley Brown and Paul Duguid, The Social Life of Information (2000), Introduction and Chapter On, xerox

Write and Post: Journal Entry on questions provided. (Optional; you can do this on the entry on 27 Sept.)

Write and Post: Proposal for Web Review essay.

Student websites from spring 2001:

Chrissie Brodigan

Jessica Cox

Lee Ann Ghajar

Brenda Ellison


     Read: Janet Murray, The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace

George Landow, Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology. Amplified, updated version of Chapter One (1996).  <http://landow.stg.brown.edu/cpace/ht/jhup/contents.html>

William Cronon, "A Place for Stories: Nature, History, and Narratives," Journal of American History, 78:4 (March, 1992), 1347-1376.

Keith Jenkins, "Introduction: on being open about our closures," in Jenkins, ed., The Postmodern History Reader (1997), xerox.

     Write and Post: Journal Entry on questions provided. (Optional; you can do this or the entry on 20 Sept.)

See also: The Lost Museum: http://www.ashp.cuny.edu/LM/

Bringing History Home: http://pivot.mit.edu/mfh/index.htm

Photshop workshop: 4-6 on October 4th, in START (JC 344) Materials are available at: http://media.gmu.edu/start/resources.html


     Write, Post, Present: Web Review Essay: Note that your presentation should be five minutes long with five minutes for discussion.

WEEK 8: 18 October:Popular and Public History Online

Guest: Judy Gradwohl, Director, Smithsonian Without Walls

Reading:Take a look at the following web sites. Play particular attention to the first two, which Judy Gradwohl worked on. (She also worked on the third. The others are examples of interesting user interfaces.)

http://historywired.si.edu/index.html HistoryWired: A Few of Our Favorite Things presents 450 objects from the NMAH collections.

http://americanhistory.si.edu/ssb/index.html Entire site on a single object, created mostly from existing material.

http://www.si.edu/revealingthings A very early attempt to help visitors direct their own experiences in a site on material culture of household possessions.
http://smartmoney.com/marketmap The inspiration for HistoryWired.
(See link on page)
http://www.rhizome.org/starrynight/ Creates thematic patterns in 2000+ E-mails sent to Rhizome, a new media art site (Martin Wattenberg's early interface design)
http://www.turbulence.org/Works/apartment/index.html Creates a graphic interface for sentences typed by the viewer by classifying and assigning relative importance. (Martin Wattenberg's current work)

    Write and Post: Proposal for Digital Project Proposal. (See Guidelines.)

Week 9: 25 October: Digital Capitalism: the view from 2001

Guest Lecture: Dan Schiller, Professor of Information Science, University of Illinois, author of Digital Capitalism : Networking the Global Market Systems

Reading: Introduction and Chapter 1 of Digital Capitalism

Note Guest Lecture is from 4:30-7 PM and so we will meet at that time instead of regular time.

WEEK 10: 1 November: Web Site Design: Visual Appeal and (versus?) Usability

Reading: Paula Petrik, "Top Ten Mistakes in Academic Web Design," History Computer Review, May 2000, http://www.archiva.net/essays.html

Michael O'Malley, "Building Effective Course Sites: Some Thoughts on Design for Academic Work,"Inventio, Spring 2000, http://www.doiiit.gmu.edu/Archives/spring00/momalley_1.html

David Siegel, "Tips for Writers and Designers," at http://www.dsiegel.com/tips/

Jacob Nielsen, Alertboxes:"Are Users Stupid?" at http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20010204.html; "End of Web Design" at http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20000723.html; "Why Web Users Scan Instead of Read" at http://www.useit.com/alertbox/whyscanning.html

            Guest: Michael O'Malley


Read: "Forum on Hypertext Scholarship: AQ as Web-Zine: Responses to AQ's Experimental Online Issue," American Quarterly (June 1999), commentaries by Roy Rosenzweig, James Castonguay, Thomas Thurston, M. David Westbrook, Louise Krasniewicz and Michael Blitz, Susan Smulyan, Christopher P Wilson, and Randall Bass, all available online through Project Muse

Robert Darnton, "The New Age of the Book," New York Review of Books, (18 March 2000), pp. 5-7. <http://www.nybooks.com/nyrev/WWWarchdisplay.cgi?19990318005F>

Jerome McGann, "The Rationale of Hypertext," <http://www.village.virginia.edu/public/jjm2f/rationale.html>

Edward L. Ayers, "The Pasts and Futures of Digital History," (1999) <http://www.vcdh.virginia.edu/PastsFutures.html>

And at least two examples of digital scholarship from this list:

"The Spanish-American War in US Media Culture" by James Castonguay

"Dreaming Arnold Schwarzenegger" by Louise Krasniewicz and Michael Blitz

"Hearsay of the Sun: Photography, Identity, and the Law of Evidence in Nineteenth-Century American Courts" by Thomas Thurston

"From Hogan's Alley to Coconino County: Three Narratives of the Early Comic Strip" by David Westbrook

(all four of these are available at http://chnm.gmu.edu/aq/

Maria Balshaw, Anna Notaro , Liam Kennedy and DouglasTallack, City Sites (Multmedia book published by Univ. of Birmingham press); http://artsweb.bham.ac.uk/citysites/ (This is longer than the other items in the list and so you should review the overall structure and navigation and then look at a few pieces of it in more detail.)

Charles Hardy III & Allesandro Portelli, "I Can Almost See the Lights of Home ~ A Field Trip to Harlan County, Kentucky,"Journal of Multimedia History 2(1999) < http://www.albany.edu/jmmh/>

     Write and Post: a journal entry on whether the two examples of digital scholarship you examined fulfilled the "promise of digital scholaship." Do they do anything genuinely new with new media? Do they do it well?

WEEK 12: 15 November: The Future of Historical Communities

    Read:Barry Wellman and Milena Guila, "Virtual Communities as Communities: Net Surfers Don't Ride Alone," in Marc Smith and Peter Kollock, eds., Communities in Cyberspace (1999), xerox.

Pew Internet Project, "Online Communities: Networks that nurture long-distance relationships and local tie," (October 2001), at http://www.pewinternet.org/reports/toc.asp?Report=47

Observe and post comment on an online historical community (Guidelines).

22 November: Thanksgiving

Week 13: 29November:The Futures of Historical Research, Historical Archives, & Books

            Read: Roy Rosenzweig, "The Road to Xanadu: The Present and Future of Digital History" Journal of American History, September 2001. (Available through History Cooperative, which is free through GMU library databases.)

Michael Lesk, "How Much Information Is There In the World?" <http://www.lesk.com/mlesk/ksg97/ksg.html>

[optional] Gavan McCarthy, "The Structuring of Context: New Possibilities in an XML Enabled World Wide Web," Journal of the Association for History and Computing 3 (April 2000) <http://mcel.pacificu.edu/JAHC/JAHCIII1/ARTICLES/McCarthy/index.html>

Mike Featherstone, "Archiving Cultures," British Journal of Sociology (Jan./March 2000), click here for pdf version.

[optional]Philip E. Agre, "Notes on the New Design Space," <http://dlis.gseis.ucla.edu/people/pagre/design-space.html>

Sven Birkerts, "Ex Libris," Feed Magazine, August 19, 1999 <http://www.feedmag.com/essay/es245_master.html>

[optional] Eli Noam, "Will Books Become the Dumb Medium?" Educom Review, Volume 33, Number 2 (March/April 1998) <http://www.educause.edu/pub/er/review/reviewArticles/33218.html>

Jason Epstein, "Reading: The Digital Future," New York Review of Books, July 5, 2001; http://www.nybooks.com/articles/14318

Clifford Lynch, "The Battle to Define the Future of the Book in the Digital World"
First Monday, Volume 6, Number 6(2001).

Week 14: 6 December: Proposing the Future of the Past

            Student Projects Proposals presented

Week 15: 13 December: Proposing the Future of the Past

            Student Projects Proposals presented

            Due: Project Proposals


The above schedule is only tentative. In an experimental course like this one, we need to be open to changes in schedule, format, and requirements. I may, for example, alter the specific assignments or their order based on the needs and interests of the class. I welcome your input in shaping the course so that it most effectively meets your needs. Because some changes may be made at the last minute, it is important that you check with a member of the class if you should be forced to miss a particular class for some unavoidable reason. In addition, you might want to check with me if you decide to read ahead in the syllabus.

Requirements and Grades:

There are four main requirements for this course:

  1. Active participation in class discussions, both on-line and in class.
  2. A "Web Journal" in which you will record your reactions to readings and carry out other assignments. (You will lose credit for unexcused, late entries.)
  3. A Web review essay in which you will assess the coverage of a particular historical topic in digital forms.
  4. A Digital History Project Proposal: You will make a proposal for a digital history project and also develop a home page for it.

These major requirements will make up your final grade with the different items roughly weighed as follows: participation (17%); web journal (22%); review essay (28%); project proposal (33%).

            Group Work: Digital work is much more likely to be collaborative than traditional historical scholarship, and it might be logical for us to do all of our work in this class collaboratively. But it is often problematic to insist that students work in groups in a class setting. So, I am making this an option. You can do the Web review essay and the digital history proposal in a group of two or three people. But there are two conditions. First, your project needs to be of two or three times the scale of individual projects. Second, your grade will either be a joint one (everyone in the group gets the same grade) or the group will decide how they want to allocate credit. (For example, two people could decide that one did 55 percent of the work and the other did 45 percent; if the group got a B+, then one person would get "roughly" an A- and the other would get a B.)

There will be an online component to class participation as well. The point of that is to extend class discussion beyond the limited two hour and forty minute slot that we meet once a week. Equally important, it is meant to foster discussion on your projects among members of the class. One of the key points of a seminar /workshop like this is for it to be a group experience. Unlike a conventional class where almost all the advice and assistance comes from the instructor, in a seminar everyone will take a hand in shaping our discussions and helping fellow class members. Much of this will happen in class, but we will also try to do some of this on-line. Everyone is strongly encouraged to post reflections on the class discussions, readings, and projects to our class email list as well as to actively maintain their web journal. You might, for example, comment on a reading that particularly intrigued or annoyed you. Or, you might comment on problems that you have been confronting in carrying out your projects. Or, you might have come across a terrific Web site that you think other members of the class should examine.

We will communicate with each other via our class listserv: HIST615-005@gmu.edu Remember that when you write to that address, it goes to everyone in the class. So you only want to post things that you want everyone to see.

How to subscribe and use class mailing list:

1. Send an e-mail message TO: listproc@gmu.edu

2. Type the following line as the message text:

subscribe Hist615-005 Your Name

3. Send the mail message. You will receive an e-mail confirmation of your subscription to the list.

4. To send an e-mail message to all subscribers of the list, send the message TO: Hist615-005@gmu.edu


Because this topic is so new, there are relatively few books that directly address it. As a result, there are only two books for purchase for this course:

            Janet Horowitz Murray Hamlet on the Holodeck : The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace, MIT Press, paperback; ISBN: 0262631873

            John Naughton, A Brief History of the Future, purchase via Amazon or other online vendor; it is also available on reserve in Johnson Center.

Much of the additional reading will be available on-line and linked from the on-line syllabus, but a few items will be provided in Xerox. After I figure out the total cost for the Xeroxing, I will assess a modest additional charge fort that.

Office Hours:

My official office hours will be Thursday from 3-5 PM. But I am also available at other times, by appointment. In general, making an appointment is the safest procedure, since someone may have already made an appointment for the time you have free or I might have an unexpected meeting. But, by all means, feel free to drop by whenever you like. I can be reached at 993-1247 or 993-4532(office) or 522-2334 (home). My official office is in Robinson B, Room 375 but I also often work out of an office in Pohick Module, the home of the Center for History and New Media. The fastest way to reach me is often through electronic mail, which I usually check quite regularly. My e-mail address is rrosenzw@gmu.edu.

Additional Workshops:

We have set up an in-class workshop for Dreamweaver and FTP. It is also important that you learn at least the basics of image editing. I am going to arrange a Photoshop class as soon as I figure out the best time for the largest number of students. The Student Technology and Assistance Center is willing to offer additional workshops, and we should discuss whether there are topics that enough class members would like covered. In addition, they offer a regular series of workshops; the list is posted at http://media.gmu.edu/workshops/. Many of the topics (beginning Dreamweaver and Photoshop) are ones that we will cover in class, but you could re-take the workshop as a refresher or you might want to explore additional tools like Flash, PowerPoint, and Premiere.

If you feel that your basic computer skills are weak, you might want to consider classes from Learning Resources Office. They offer, for example, classes on Windows 98 fundamentals as well as on basic Microsoft applications < http://www.gmu.edu/departments/ucis/lro/classlisting.html>

Our Room: Instructions for JC 311 equipment are at http://mason.gmu.edu/~scampbel

Students should log into PCs in 311 with username 311 and password Johnson; you should log out before you leave.

Last day to add classes: 8 PM on Sept 11; last day to drop without dean's permission: 5 PM, Sept. 28.

Last revised: November 26, 2001.