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Teaching digital public history

Teaching digital public history

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Published by Steven Lubar
A talk prepared for the January, 2014 American Historical Society conference session on "Digital History in (and out of) the Classroom."

(Not delivered because of the snow storm.)
A talk prepared for the January, 2014 American Historical Society conference session on "Digital History in (and out of) the Classroom."

(Not delivered because of the snow storm.)

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Categories:Types, Presentations
Published by: Steven Lubar on Jan 02, 2014
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Steven Lubar Brown University
Public History
Presentation for the January 2014 meeting of the American Historical Association, part "Digital History in (and out of) the Classroom." Participants: Kathleen Franz (American University, chair) Steven Lubar (Brown University), Kathryn Tomasek (Wheaton College), and Julian Chambliss (Rollins College). Description: "This panel will raise questions about, and offer examples of, what might be called a new Digital Pedagogy. This might be understood as the mobilization of digital tools to teach a variety of principles and skills that may or may not be focused on History as a discipline and thus could be seen as either a compliment to or in contrast with Digital History. Digital Pedagogy implies more than just the use of a digital teaching platform (such as with a MOOC) and takes as it aim the exposure of students to some of the basic ideas of computational thinking. In addition to the broader issues about computational literacy, we will also explore the particular advantages to digital pedagogy for understanding history, especially public histories of the local environment or the museum."How can public history and digital humanities work together in the history classroom? How can we teach public history with an awareness of the new world of the digital humanities? What do we gain out of doing that? I suggest that there’s much to be gained from bringing these two fields together, especially in teaching. I will focus on bringing the digital to public history, looking at two courses on the theory and practice of the public humanities. As I redo my courses, the question in my mind is this: what percentage of the course should be about digital things? This is a more general problem for all public humanities institution, not  just for faculty. What percent of a museum’s work should be digital? What percent of a state humanities council funds should go to web projects, what percent to the real world? How about libraries? What is the commitment to books, to web access, to community? How much overlap is there? How much is either/or? What are the comparative advantages of each?I used the word overlap, and so of course, the next thing you’ll expect to see is a Venn diagram, of course. Here it is. Digital humanities is part of it, and so is public history.
Public History
Public History
We’re interested in the overlap between the digital and the public. Let’s look at the digital humanities side first. I’ll start with a quick overview of the digital humanities. The phrase has many meanings, and perhaps that’s why its practitioners spend so much time talking about definition. I want to revel in that tradition. I’ve pulled together some quotes from practitioners, and arranged them roughly in order from scholarly humanities to the public humanities.
1. Wikipedia offers us the most basic definition, what you might call “humanities computing” New tools answer old questions, new ways to examine traditional texts and images, and open up new kinds of texts for examination.2. Cathy Davidson of HASTAC suggests that digital help us to interrogate and understand the contemporary digital world. 3. New ways to get our work out to the public, new kinds of outreach. Kathleen Woodward of the Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington, which “seeks to [take] humanities scholarship public with the new digital technologies.

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