History 615:

The Syllabus version 2.02


Roy Rosenzweig
History 615-004
Monday: 0720PM 1000PM
Robinson A123 [classroom]
Robinson A107 [lab]
Web page: http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/cliowired

CLASS 1: 31 August: The Digital Historian Looks Forward: Prospects and Problems

CLASS 2: 14 September: WWW 101: Resisting, Embracing, or at least Visiting Cyberspace

Meet in Lab room: Robinson A107

Note: Graduate Student Reception 5:30pm-7:00 PM. JLC, Assembly Room E

Read: Phil Agre, "Designing Genres for New Media" in The Network Observer, (November 1995, vol. 2, number 11) at: http://dlis.gseis.ucla.edu/people/pagre/tno/november-1995.html#designing

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

"The Electronic Hive: two Views:" "Refuse It" (Sven Birkerts) and "Embrace It" (Kevin Kelly) at: http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/cliowired/hive.html

Write: Web Journal #1 (required): One page (250-350 words) reflection on readings; bring your comments on a floppy disk (pc or mac) in a file format that is readable by Microsoft word version 6.0 (In other words, if you use word perfect, save it as a word file; if you use, something more unusual, save it as text.)

Discuss either of these questions/topics in your journal:

    1. What are the assumptions and arguments that underlie the commentaries by Birkerts and Kelly? How would Phil Agre respond to them? How do you respond?
    2. What are the general principles that Agre recommends to analyzing new media? Apply those principles to analyzing the implications of translating an existing genre of historical work into new media form.

Resources for Review: Search Tips

Creating a Web Page with Netscape Navigator

[Web page construction & searching continued on 9/21]

Class 4: 28 September: Looking for the Past in Cyberspace

Meet in Lab Room

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), available at http://chnm.gmu.edu/chnm/jah.html

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

Carl Smith, "Can You Do Serious History on the Web? " aha Perspectives, February, 1998, available at http://chnm.gmu.edu/aha/persp/advanced.taf?function=detail&Layout1_uid1=107

Visit and study: "Chicago Fire and the Web of Memory" at http://www.chicagohs.org/fire

Write: Web Journal Entry #2 (required).

In Class: Explore a History Web Site and evaluate according to Lexicon of Critical Questions.

Class 5: 5 October: Looking Back and Forward: When Old Media Was New

Read: Daniel Czitrom, Media and the American Mind

Neil Harris, "Iconography and Intellectual History: The Half-Tone Effect," in New Directions in American Intellectual History, ed. John Higham and Paul K. Conkin (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979), 196-211 (handout);

Bruce Jones, "Manuscripts, Books, and Maps: The Printing Press and a Changing World" at http://communication.ucsd.edu/bjones/Books/booktext.html.

James Carey, "The Mythos of the Electronic Revolution" in Communication As Culture: Essays on Media and Society, (provided as handout) but also available for purchase at: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/041590725X/qid=903131584/sr=1-2/002-7800021-9052420

Write: Web Journal Entry #3 (optional; must do two of the four optional entries)

Due: Proposal for Web Review Essay (send via e-mail to rrosenzw@gmu.edu)

Also discussed: Some Gateways to the History Web

12 October: Columbus Day Break: No Class but Monday classes meet on Wednesday

CLASS 6: 14 October: History on The Web: Reports from Cyberspace

Student Reports

Present/Post: Web Review Essay: Choose a historical topic that interests you; write a review essay that discusses the presentation of that topic on at least five web sites or cd-roms and talks about at least two of these in depth. You should also use this essay to comment more broadly on what it means to do history in electronic spaces. Your on-line essay should contain links to relevant portions of the web sites. As a rough guideline, your essay should be around 1,500 words.

CLASS 7: 19 October: Does Digital History Change History? History and Hypertext I

Guest: Randy Bass

Read George Landow, Hypertext 2.0: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology

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

Browse hypertext novel called Marble Springs at http://www.eastgate.com/MS/Title_184.html (Read around the site and get a feel for what the author is trying to accomplish. )

Write: Web Journal #4 (optional)

CLASS 8: 26 October Does Digital History Change History? History and Hypertext II

Guest: Randy Bass

Read: Robert Berkhoffer, Beyond the Great Story: History As Text and Discourse, chapters 1, 7 (optional), 9, available for purchase at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0674069080/002-6861490-6423860 (and also as handout).

Richard Lanham, Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts, chapter 1: "The Electronic Word: Literary Study and the Digital Revolution" (handout)

Janet H. Murray, Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace, chapter 3: "From Additive to Expressive Form." (handout)

Optional: examine: American Quarterly Hypertext Projects (http://chnm.gmu.edu/aq) and CrossroadsInnovistas interviews and at least two sites connected with the interviews, available at: http://www.georgetown.edu/crossroads/innovistas/

See: Sample Student Hypertext Projects

Write: Web Journal #5 (optional)

CLASS 9: 2 November: Designing Killer Web Sites

Guest: Michael O’Malley

Read: David Siegel, "Web Wonk" at http://WWW.DSIEGEL.COM/tips/index.html

Due: Term Project Proposals Due

Recommended: David Siegel, Designing Killer Web Sites

A Web Makeover: Compare: http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/shwv/pnar-top.html to http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/cliowired/redesign/narratives.html

CLASS 10: 9 November: Inventing the Computer and Using the Internet for Historical Research

Read Martin Campbell-Martin and William Aspray, Computer

Write: Web Journal # 6 (optional)

Note: Optional Photoshop Class, 6-7:30 PM; Regular class starts at 7:45 PM.

CLASS 11: 16 November: Genres of Digital History I: Virtual Communities of Historical Discourse & Electronic Book s and CD-ROMs

Read: Sherry Turkle, "Virtuality and its Discontents: Searching for Community in Cyberspace," The American Prospect no. 24 (Winter 1996): 50-57 available at http://epn.org/prospect/24/24turk.html.

Mark Pitcavage, "History on Usenet: The People's Forum," aha Perspectives (January, 1996) http://chnm.gmu.edu/aha/persp/column.taf?function=form

Roy Rosenzweig, "So, What's Next for Clio?" CD-ROM and Historians,"Journal of American History 81.4 (March 1995): 1621-1640 at http://chnm.gmu.edu/chnm/essays/clio.html

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

Jakob Nielsen, "Electronic Books - A Bad Idea," Alertbox for July 26, 1998, available at http://www.useit.com/alertbox/980726.html

Write: Web Journal # 7 (required): Either: 1. Follow and report upon a historical discussion taking place on-line or 2. Select a CD-ROM or electronic book to read and analyze; choices will be provided.

CLASS 12: 23 November: Genres of Digital History II: Archives and Museums

Guest: James Sparrow, Director, Blackout History Project: http://blackout.gmu.edu/

Read: Gary Marchionini, "Bringing Treasures to the Surface: Iterative Design for the Library of Congress National Digital Library Program" at ftp://ftp.cs.umd.edu/pub/hcil/Reports-Abstracts-Bibliography/3694html/3694.html

Henrietta Shirk, "Cognitive Architecture in Barrett, ed., Hypermedia Instruction" in Hypermedia, and the Social Construction of Knowledge. Cambridge: MIT Press. 79-93. (handout)

Workshop on Scanning: Background: "A Few Tips on Scanning" at http://www.scantips.com/

CLASS 13: 30 November: History Workshop

Optional Class meeting: Members of the Class, who are interested, will meet in CHNM Lab (Robinson B375) to work on their projects with help from instructor and other class members.

Class 14/15: 7, 14 December: Student Projects Presented

14 December: Final Projects must be posted.


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. There are 8 journal entries; of these, you are required to do #s 1, 2, 7, 8, ; you can choose to do any two out of #s 3-6. The entries are due by the evening of the class where the reading is assigned. (You will lose credit for unexcused, late entries.) During the optional weeks, you should send me an email to alert me to the fact that you have posted a journal entry.
    3. A Web review essay (due 14 October) in which you will assess the coverage of a particular historical topic in digital forms.
    4. A Digital History Project Prototype and Proposal (Due 14 December): You will make a proposal for a digital history project and also develop a prototype of a portion of it. (There will be an option, to be discussed, to do these projects in groups.)

These major requirements will make up your final grade with the different items roughly weighed as follows: participation (15%); web journal (20%); review essay (20%); project proposal (45%).

There will be an "on-line" 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: HIST615-004@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 Hist615-004 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: Hist615-004@gmu.edu


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

Media and the American Mind : From Morse to McLuhan by Daniel J. Czitrom, Paperback (February 1983) Univ. of North Carolina Pr; ISBN: 0807841072

Computer: A History of the Information Machine by Martin Campbell-Kelly, William Aspray, Paperback (August 1997) HarperCollins; ISBN: 0465029906 ;

Hypertext 2.0 : The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology by George P. Landow, Paperback , 2nd edition (September 1997) Johns Hopkins Univ. ; ISBN: 0801855861 ;

Much of the additional reading will be available on-line and linked from the on-line syllabus, but some 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.

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 (office) or 522-2334 (home). My office is in Robinson B, Room 375. 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.

We are lucky to have Randy Bass as a visiting professor at GMU this semester. Randy is the director of the American Studies Crossroads Project and the Center for Electronic Projects in American Culture Studies at Georgetown. He has generously agreed to participate in a number of classes through the semester and to lead the discussions on history and hypertext.

Skills Workshops: I am working with the new student technology assistance center to set up some workshops targeted at this class. These will not be required but should be of assistance to you in developing your projects. In addition, they have set up room 311 in the Johnson Center as a walk-in resource center for students focused on web design and creation ("web.star"); it includes computers, software, videos and mentors. The hours are 10 to 10 Monday through Thursday; 10-6 on Fridays and Sundays’ 12-7 (for the first 8 weeks of the semester) and Saturday and Sunday 12-7 for the last 8 weeks. 

Last revised: 26 November 1998.