What Do We Want Digital History to Look Like Now?

Friday, January 5, 2018: 4:30 PM
Diplomat Ballroom (Omni Shoreham)
Alison Langmead, University of Pittsburgh
The massive digitization projects of the last 20 years have undeniably changed the field of history. Knowing how to make sense of all of this information, to find opportunities for close reading in this open water, is one of the many hallmarks of today’s exceptional digital historian. In this time of increased pressure to reduce TTD (time-to-degree), however, I fear that there is simply not enough time to guide students in the deeply subject-specific ways that we always have, while also giving them the space to learn to use computing in thoughtful, experimental ways. Many of us who have attempted, and even succeeded in following, this path have experienced the—often almost psychotic—pull that comes from existing between two disparate scholarly fields of inquiry. It is my firm belief that truly integrating training in digital techniques into the humanities and allied social sciences will involve a bonafide change to the “ways things always have been done.” We will need to proactively model what we want Digital History to look like, not only how it happens to appear now.
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