History 696:

The Syllabus

version 1.45



Roy Rosenzweig
History 696-001
Monday: 0720PM 1000PM
Johnson Center 3111

Web page: http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/rr/f02/cw

WARNING! Print version of Syllabus is subject to change; you should regularly check back online.

Weeks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

WEEK 1: 26 August: Digitizing the Past: Possibilities & Problems: Introduction, Requirements, and Themes

September 2: Labor Day, No Class

For 3 September, email the results of your Web History Scavenger Hunt

Search tips

Note September 4 is last day to drop with no tuition liability

WEEK 2: 9 September: WWW 101: Getting Yourself on the Web

Introduction to Dreamweaver and FTP by STAR staff

Preparation: Ideally, you should purchase or get access to Dreamweaver MX. You can purchase Dreamweaver for $99 (educational price) from Patriot Computers 993-4100) in the Johnson Center http://compstore.gmu.edu/main.html. If you don't own Dreamweaver yet, 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 at http://www.macromedia.com/support/dreamweaver/documentation/dwmx_tutorials.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 6 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." This is an important resources for students who are just starting out on creating web pages.

Read:  Robin Williams and John Tollett, The Non-Designer's Web Book, 2nd edition, chapters 1-4 (unless you already know all this; you can do the quizzes at the end of the chapters to find out).

If you haven't built Web pages before, read:

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:

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/assets/historyessays/e1/bravenewworld1.html>

Vernon Takeshita, "Tangled Webs: The Limits of Historical Analysis on the Internet" <http://www.dartmouth.edu/~history/newsletter/spring01/web.html>

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>

Lev Manovich, "What is New Media," chapter one of The Language of New Media (2001), 18-61, xerox.

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/>

A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the Constitution

Brainerd, Kansas: Time, Place, and Memory on the Web 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> and, where relevant, drawing on some of the week's reading. Note especially the questions in the key areas of content, form, audience/use, and new media. By Sunday afternoon September 15, please email me the address of your web site.

WEEK 4: 23 September: The Future of Historical Narrative?

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). (just read "Hypertextual Derrida, Poststructuralist Nelson?"; "The Definition of Hypertext and Its History as a Concept:" and "Predictions." <http://www.cyberartsweb.org/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.

Lev Manovich, "The Forms," pp. 213-43 in The Language of New Media, xerox.

Write and Post
: Journal Entry on questions provided.

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

Write and Post: Proposal for Web Review essay.

Note: September 27 is last day to drop classes

WEEK 5: 30 September:Photoshop for Historians

Guest: Paula Petrik

Get: Photoshop Elements, available from Computer Store at Educational Price of ca. $50 or Photoshop 7.0.

Reading on Photo Retouching

Student web sites from prior classes:

Chrissie Brodigan

Jessica Cox

Lee Ann Ghajar

Mark Jones

Rob Townsend


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


[Note:Class meets on Tuesday because of Columbus Day.]

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

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 closely read 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 (Multimedia 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/>

Joshua Brown, "The Past Impaneled," (Book review) www.common-place.org · vol. 1 · no. 3 · April 2001 <http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/cp/vol-01/no-03/reviews/katchor-ware01.shtml> or better copy seems to be at: http://www.common-place.org/vol-01/no-03/reviews/katchor-ware01.shtml

Philip J. Ethington, “Los Angeles and the Problem of Urban Historical Knowledge” American Historical Review (December 2000) <http://cwis.usc.edu/dept/LAS/history/historylab/LAPUHK/index.html>

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

WEEK 8: 21 October:Web Site Design: Visual Appeal and (versus?) Usability

Guest: Michael O'Malley

Reading:Williams and Tollett, chapters 5-15.

Paula Petrik, "Top Ten Mistakes in Academic Web Design," History Computer Review, May 2000, http://chnm.gmu.edu/assets/historyessays/e1/toptenmistakesin.html

Michael O'Malley, "Building Effective Course Sites: Some Thoughts on Design for Academic Work,"Inventio, Spring 2000, http://chnm.gmu.edu/assets/historyessays/e1/buildingeffect1.html

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

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

Week 9: 28 October:Popular and Public History Online

Visit the following sites:

HistoryWired: A Few of Our Favorite Things http://historywired.si.edu/index.html

The History Channel <http://www.historychannel.com/> [This is obviously too extensive to examine in full, but spend enough time to get a full sense of the site.]

Monticello Online http://www.monticello.org/

George Washington: A National Treasure http://georgewashington.si.edu/portrait/index.html

Without Sanctuary: Photographs and Postcards of Lynching in America <http://www.journale.com/withoutsanctuary/>

Read:Steve Dietz, “Telling Stories: Procedural Authorship and Extracting Meaning from Museum Databases” http://www.archimuse.com/mw99/papers/dietz/dietz.html

John Vergo, “"Less Clicking, More Watching": Results from the User-Centered Design of a Multi-Institutional Web Site for Art and Culture” ( delivered at the MW 2001, ), <http://www.archimuse.com/mw2001/papers/vergo/vergo.html>

Write and Post: Journal Entry on one of the following questions

1,Which of these sites most effectively conveys the past to a "general" audience? (And why?)

2. Which of these sites makes the most effective use of new media? (And how?)

3. Which of these sites has a design and interface that most effectively communicates its message and serves its audience?

4. Which of these sites has an interpretation of the past that either: a. best reflects current scholarship or b. challenges its audiences?

. (Optional; you can do this or the entry on 11 November.)    

WEEK 10: 4 November: The New Media Classroom

Guest: T. Mills Kelly

Read: Lendol Calder, William Cutler, and T. Mills Kelly, "History Lessons: Historians and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning," Disciplinary Styles in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Mary Huber and Sherry Moreale eds., American Association for Higher Education,2001, p. 45-67, copy provided.

T. Mills Kelly, "For Better or Worse? The Marriage of Web and the History Classroom," Journal of the American Association for History and Computing, III/2, August 2000 <http://mcel.pacificu.edu/JAHC/JAHCIII2/ARTICLES/kelly/kelly.html>.

Randy Bass and Roy Rosenzweig, "Rewiring the History and Social Studies
Classroom: Needs, Frameworks,Dangers, and Proposals," Journal of Education (2000)<http://chnm.gmu.edu/assets/historyessays/e2/rewiring1.html>

And look at the following two web sites:

Who Killed William Robinson? <http://web.uvic.ca/history-robinson/> (Think about the
different ways that the evidence in this site can be organized to arrive at different conclusions and how that feature of the site might be useful for teaching historical thinking. Also, answer the following question: Who killed William Robinson?)

"How to Read Images" in Liberty, Equality, Fraternity <http://chnm.gmu.edu/revolution/chap12a.html>
(Be prepared to answer the following questions: How is this particular presentation of exploring historical sources limiting as compared to the Robinson site which is more open ended? What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a structured approach when
it comes to teaching a skill?)

WEEK 11: 11 November: The Future of Books and the Public Domain


Clifford Lynch, "The Battle to Define the Future of the Book in the Digital World"
First Monday, Volume 6, Number 6(2001). Download this from http://www.nightkitchen.com/books/samples_book.phtml?sit=&book=63&old=2 and read it onscreen in TK3 reader, which you also need to download from the same location. (If you really, really can't do it this way, there is another version at

Lawrence Lessig,The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World <http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/stores/detail/-/books/0375726446/reviews/qid=1035777914/sr=12-1/103-9617799-5080655>

Optional Readings:

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>

Roy Rosenzweig, "The Road to Xanadu: Public and Private Pathways on the History Web" Journal of American History, September 2001. <http://chnm.gmu.edu/assets/historyessays/e1/roadtoxanadu1.html>

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>

Umberto Eco, "Authors and Authority," <http://www.text-e.org/conf/index.cfm?switchLang=Eng&ConfText_ID=11> (If you have time, read the "archived debate."

Think about the following questions. Write a journal entry on one of them if you did not do journal for 28 October:

1. Which side(s) are you on in the "battle to define the future of the book in the digital world." Why?

2. Is Clifford Lynch justified in the optimistic conclusion that "we will find treasures and wonderful surprises along the way" as the future of the book is defined. Will all the surprises be "wonderful"?

3. Lawrence Lessig argues that the issues that he describes are not defined by a conflict between "left and right" but rather between "old and new." What does he mean? Do you agree?

4. What are the implications of Lessig's book for historians? Are there ways that historians should be working to enlarge rather than narrow the "commons"?

5. Is Lessig guilty of "utopian" and "pie-in-the-sky" musings here?

6. Who is the villain in the story that Lessig tells? Do you agree?

7, Eben Moglen, the lawyer for Free Software pioneer Richard Stallman, has argued the free software is the "vital first step in the withering away of the intellectual property system." What do you think? Could Free Software and the "commons" displace traditional modes of intellectual property? Should it?

7. Lessig insists on the importance of a fair balance between pubic and private rights? But where should that balance be struck? Do you agree with where Lessig strikes the balance?

8. Is Lessig overly pessimistic? Is innovation really threatened?

See Copyright and Fair Use Basics



Week 12: 18 November:The Future of Historical Communities

: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).

Week 13: 25 November : Proposing the Future of the Past

Student Projects Proposals presented

Week 14: 2 December: Proposing the Future of the Past

Student Projects Proposals presented

: 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 (15%); web journal (20%); review essay (30%); project proposal (35%).

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 getting your web site to work. Or, you might have come across a terrific history Web site that you think other members of the class should examine. As a general guideline, you should initiate online discussion at least twice and respond to topics raised by others at least twice. But I hope you will take a more active role than that.

We will communicate with each other via our class listserv: HIST696-001@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 Hist696-001 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: Hist696-001@gmu.edu

Reading: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

Robin Williams and John Tollett, The Non-Designer's Web Book, 2nd edition, Peachpit Press, paperback

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. Given the state of the State of Virginia budget, I will have to assess a modest additional charge for the copies.

Software: It is recommended that you purchase the educational versions of both Dreamweaver and Photoshop Elements. Both are available at an educational discount at the GMU computer store. These will be used in both History 696 and 697. Students who are particularly interested in new media (e.g., are pursuing a minor in new media in the doctoral program) will probably want to purchase the full version of Photoshop.

Office Hours: My official office hours will be Monday from 2-4 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 more 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 roy@gmu.edu.

Additional Workshops: We have set up in-class workshops for Dreamweaver, FTP, and Photoshop. 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.

The University also offers a variety of free online courses in software and technology applications: http://smartforce.doit.gmu.edu/

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.

Version history:
15 September: added link to Journal #2 assignment.

14 October: dropped Seigel reading from design week; corrected link for Mark Jones; added reading on photo retouching under week #5

20 October: revised reading and assignment for week #9.

24 October: switched assignments for weeks 10 & 11; added web sites to look at in week 10; refined reading assignment (still tentative) for week 11.

3 November: added discussion/journal questions for week 11.

10 November: made some minor changes in assignment for week 12

11 November: added link to copyright basics and explanation of oral report for weeks 13-14