You are expected to attend each class having completed the week’s readings, tutorials, or assignments and be prepared to discuss them. As part of that preparation, you will write 2-3 questions related to the week’s theme and post these questions to the course Slack channel by midnight the night before class. Please read each of your classmate’s questions prior to the start of class. If you need to miss a class, notify me ahead of time and we will then come up with a plan or alternative assignment to catch you up on what you missed.

Project Example
Each week, one or two students will present a short overview of a real-world digital project (loosely) related to the week’s readings and themes. You will give a short introduction to the project (5 minutes) and explain how it relates to any of the readings or themes that we’ve covered in this course. You are welcome to discuss its background, strengths or shortcomings, etc. but keep in mind that you do not have very much time. Due to the number of enrolled students, some of you will need to pair up. In those weeks, you will work together to coordinate the presentation. Plan out ahead of time exactly what you need to convey to your classmates so that they can understand the project and its relationship to the theme. These presentations will help expose the entire class to some of the digitally inflected work being done on space and place while concretizing the more theoretical dimensions of each week’s readings. Please email or Slack DM me with the project you are thinking of presenting on at least two days before class so that I can approve it, then send out a link to the project prior to the start of class via the Slack channel #weekly-project-examples.

Site Visit of Beacon Hill
You will conduct a site visit and close reading of the space and place of Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. Spend at least 90 minutes (wear warm clothes and duck inside for breaks) exploring and immersing yourself in the neighborhood. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Feel? How would you describe the geography of the neighborhood? Its buildings? Its people? You will then write a site visit report describing the neighborhood. The goal of this assignment is to familiarize yourself with the physical space of Beacon Hill in preparation for the class project while also applyimg some of the theoretical concepts you’ve learned in the course. Due Monday, February 10th by 11:59PM, submitted to class Slack channel #site-visits.

Class Project
The major component for this course is a group project to recreate, analyze, and communicate the historical space and place of Beacon Hill, Boston’s center of African-American life during the 1800s. All of us will be working on this project together with the aim of producing a substantive, collaborative digital history project by the end of the semester. Under this thematic umbrella, you will be able to hone in on a particular dimension or pathway depending on your interests - either individually or in small teams. The shape of the project will largely be determined by the class as the semester progresses, but possible sub-avenues within the project could include:

  • Work with the National Park Service to build an augmented reality (AR) mobile app for sites along the African-American Heritage Trail that would allow visitors to see historical photographs of buildings and people on their mobile devices
  • Use historical maps and photographs to create a virtual 3D model of Beacon Hill’s buildings and streets during a particular decade
  • Use neighborhood directories and city census records to research and map the social history of Beacon Hill’s African-American residents
  • Write a piece of electronic historical fiction that uses multimedia to convey a historical sense of place for the neighborhood
  • Serve as the Project Manager to coordinate work across different sub-projects, organize the final project deliverables, and work with Northeastern’s Digital Scholarship Group to develop a long-term strategy for hosting, maintaining, or archiving the project beyond the end of the semester

This project has several goals:

  1. The most effective way to learn technical skills and methods is to apply them to real problems rather than following tutorials or working on assignments that already have an answer.
  2. Digital humanities projects are (often) collaborative. This will give you experience working as part of a larger team on an ongoing project.
  3. Focusing on a single neighborhood will minimize the time and cognitive load of having to constantly familiarize yourself with new topics. This will allow you to delve more substantively into the history, provide everyone a shared thematic fluency, and free up more time to hone your technical skills.
  4. Working together will (hopefully!) allow us to make an original historical contribution within the timeframe of a single semester.