Participation and Attendance (25%)

Students are to attend each class having completed the readings, tutorials, or other assignments and be prepared to discuss them. One unexcused absence is allowed per semester, after which any absences will require documentation. See course policies for more information.

Visual Literacy Discussion Leader (5%)

Each student is responsible for a five-minute presentation followed by leading discussion about either a historical or contemporary visualization. The student should critically evaluate the visualization as a form of argument or analysis: Who is the author and what is their message? How do they use visual design to convey this message? Are they successful? Why or why not? Email the instructor a link to the visualization by 9:00AM on the day you are presenting.

Labs (15%)

We will be learning the three major stages of digital spatial history over the course of three labs: visual design, spatial analysis, and obtaining data. The labs are structured “backwards,” beginning with the final product of a digital map and ending with learning how to gather data. The reason for this structure is that data is often the most challenging component of digital projects. Each lab assignment is worth 5% of your final grade and due one week after the lab itself:

  • Lab #1: Map Design (Due 2/10)
  • Lab #2: GIS and Spatial Analysis (Due 3/2)
  • Lab #3: Gathering Spatial Data (Due 3/30)

Map Analysis (15%)

A five-page analysis (~1250 words) of one historical map related to the history of the United States. The paper will conduct a close reading of the map as a primary document. It will provide an overview of the source, the historical context of its production, and an overriding argument about the map and its historical significance. Below are some questions that you might want to consider - be strategic about how much information and context you need to support your argument.

  • Basic information: Who made it and when did they make it? What does it show? What kind of features does it include? What is its visual design and layout?
  • Context: What was the historical context in which this map was made - ex. exploration, urban planning, a political election?
  • Argument: Does your map have a hidden message or intentionally leave out certain features? Does it advance a certain agenda? What evidence supports your claim? Why does this claim matter?

Due Wednesday, February 17th.

Review Paper (15%)

A five- to seven-page review essay (~1400-2000 words) of a work of spatial history selected from the list of projects below. Students will both familiarize the reader with the project and evaluate the project and its contributions. If you would like to write about another project, please send an email describing the project by Sunday, March 6th to get approval. Due Monday, March 14th at 8PM.

Final Project (25%)

In small groups of three to four, students will design their own spatial history projects related to the history of Rutgers University. Students will identify a research question to ask about some spatial dimension of the university’s past, gather and analyze evidence to answer that question, and present their findings in an online exhibit. Final Project and group evaluations due by Tuesday, May 3rd, 11:59PM