Building the Dissertation Digitally

Saturday, January 5, 2013
La Galerie 3 (New Orleans Marriott)
Lee Ann Ghajar, George Mason University
Digital technologies mediate the scholarly and public practice of history; yet their game-changing influence on the process of graduate school education, particularly on the production and evaluation of the doctoral dissertation, is left out of rubrics validating academic achievement. The dissertation is the heart of the graduate program in history, an exemplification of mastery of methodology, expression, and critical thinking. Doctoral students are increasingly questioning whether and how the dissertation can, and perhaps should, incorporate digital technologies to advance argument, narrative, and analysis and to demonstrate scholarly achievement.

How does the history graduate student approach a born digital dissertation, or a dissertation in which at least a digital component poses and explicates argument and narrative. How do we shape scholarly argument in digital presentation and publication?  How can digital presentation help query evidence, restructure and rearrange information to provoke and answer the “so what” questions of historical exploration? A question of critical importance to the scholar, as well, encompasses how digital presentations might extend the scaffolding of the dissertation into future professional work and to a broader public, just as a text-based dissertation builds the foundation for a book and positions within the academy.

The academic community-at-large is grappling with issues of evaluating and supporting work in digital media. For the doctoral candidate, concerns over presenting, defending and evaluating digital work as part of the dissertation are equally crucial. This presentation will explore questions, guidelines and criteria for mainstreaming the intersection of technology and the doctoral dissertation in history into the scholarly academy and will point to the public and professional value of doing so.

See more of: Poster Session, Part 2
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