Note: this course is likely different from other history classes you may have taken. There are no traditional essays. This is not because writing isn’t important. It’s because a major goal of this course is to understand the different forms and mediums through which people narrate, interpret, and make sense of the past. This is especially important with the advent of digital media and when discussing a topic like the Civil War. One of the best ways to develop literacy of these different forms of history is to actually engage in the process of making them for yourself.
Participation and Attendance (25%)
Students are to attend each class having completed the readings or other assignments and be prepared to discuss them. Your grade will be based on contributions to in-class activities and discussions, how you interact with your peers, whether you have done the required readings and brought any necessary material to class, and your attendance and tardiness. Over the course of the semester I will periodically administer short quizzes. These are meant as a way to make sure that you are a) doing the reading, and b) paying attention and taking notes during class. If you are doing both of these, you should do just fine. The format and total number of quizzes will vary depending on whether I feel you need more or less of a “nudge” to spend more time and attention on the material.
Finally, you are required to attend at least one outside event (campus talk, reenactment, etc.) related to the course and submit a 500-word reaction about it and how it relates to themes in the course. I have added several of these to the course schedule and will announce new ones as they come up. You are welcome to attend events that are not listed there - just clear them with me via email. You can also receive extra credit if you attend an additional event and submit a 500-word reaction (limit to one additional event).
Reacting to the Past: Kentucky, 1861 (20%)
You will be playing a historical roleplaying game over the course of several class periods in February. During this game you will be taking on the persona of Kentucky legislator in 1860-1861 as the state teeters between joining the Confederacy or staying in the Union. You will be evaluated on a combination of written assignments, speeches, and active participation during the game. More details will be distributed prior to the start of the game.
Podcasts (30%) | Podcast #1: 15% | Podcast #2: 15%
All the way back in 2005, the Oxford Dictionary declared “podcast” its Word of the Year in the United States. Although this pronouncement was a bit premature, podcasts have nevertheless experienced a surge of popularity in the recent years. Today, you can find a podcast on practically any topic, including many historical ones. During this semester you will be both listening to history podcasts and producing your own in an effort to gain literacy in an increasingly important medium for interpreting the past. You will be making two podcasts over the course of the semester. Read the full description of this assignment.
Digital Media Project (25%)
In your final project, you will be creating a historical interpretation or narrative that focuses on how a specific dimension, event, person, etc. of the Civil War and Reconstruction era has been remembered and its impact on the present-day United States. This must be conveyed through some sort of digital media: a podcast episode, video, animated film, 3D virtual reconstruction, online map, game, etc. Regardless of the format, the key requirement is that you must engage in a analysis of your topic that is: a) substantively researched and contextualized, b) clearly and compellingly communicated, and c) supported by historical evidence. You will be meeting with me to develop your idea along with a strategy to complete it.
Final version of project due Tuesday 4/23 by midnight.