Module Page

0: Getting Started

Welcome to AHIS596!

This page will be your main resource for the class. The semester is laid out in weekly modules. I recommend checking in here each Monday to orient yourself to the week’s work.

This week is an introduction, focused on:

  • Getting to know each other
  • Getting set up for the rest of the semester
  • Getting oriented for how we’ll communicate and move through the rest of the semester
Feb 1Feb 3Feb 5

Module Outline

Module Introduction

Every week before our optional Wednesday afternoon meeting, you should:

  • Read, watch, or listen to the assigned material
  • Make a start on the homework tasks
  • Come to Zoom or post in Slack about any questions you have for the homework

Every Monday I will:

  • Email a reminder of what’s coming up that week
  • Have one-on-one office hours

Course Requirements

There aren’t a lot of requirements for this class, but there are a couple of important ones. You don’t need to buy any books for this class but you will need:

  • A stable internet connection to access readings and some short videos. You do not need to attend the weekly Zoom sessions.
  • A computer on which you can install free software. A chromebook, iPad, tablet, or phone will not be sufficient for the software we will use.
  • A working Google account that you can access consistently. Please make one if you don’t have one already.

Workload expectations

The majority of your work for this course will be weekly reading, reading responses, and one or more coding/analysis assignments each week. For a work schedule, I suggest:

  • On Monday, check the week’s module page to do the reading and watch the discussion starter video if any, begin the assignments, and ask any questions on Slack;
  • On Wednesday, post your reading response to Slack and come to the optional afternoon Zoom meeting for help with the assignments;
  • On Friday, respond to classmates about the reading discussion and post the assignments

Because this is an asynchronous graduate level class, there are no due dates except for the final project on May 14. However, I suggest completing 1 module every week and staying on schedule with the rest of the class so that you can get help when you need it and support from our weekly Zoom meetings.

The only deadline that is not flexible is the group discussion starter video due at midnight Saturday February 13. Please see next week’s module page for details. I will assign groups by email this week.

The major project for the semester is a final data analysis project you will design from the ground up (20% of the final grade). The project will be based on a dataset identified in Module 5; PhD students may use their own data related to the dissertation project with my approval, and all other students must select data provided by me. (This is to ensure that you have data that will actually work for the project requirements and that you don’t end up very sad and frustrated in the last week of the semester!)

Getting Connected

To keep our Zoom meetings private to our class, you will receive an email in the first week of class with a link for our optional Wednesday afternoon meetings. Think of these Wednesday afternoon meetings as group office hours. You should feel free to use this time to get to know classmates, work through the assignments together in small groups, or get help from me.

What you’re reading right now is the course blog. Many of your assignments will require you to make a post or a comment here; details will be listed on the Module page. The course blog is powered by software called WordPress, and this WordPress Editor orientation guide will help you understand how to make a post here.

But beware! The websites and have nothing to do with our class. This website runs wordpress software the way your home computer runs Microsoft Office or Pages or BioShock–just because you run the software on your local machine doesn’t mean you can log into Microsoft’s website and access your term paper for class. The same goes for wordpress.

We’re using WordPress because it’s a common, free, and easy to install website software that is often used by small museums and nonprofits, so it’s a good skill to have as you prepare for a career. For this class, you’ll be mainly posting comments and short posts, but if you’re interested in setting up a sandbox site of your own so you can see what it’s like to set up your own website, email me and we’ll make it happen. (See the video below for how easy it is to set up a website!)

We will also be using Slack. Slack is a chat platform and the workspace is private to only members of our class. We will use Slack for informal discussion; it is often the quickest way to get an answer from me. You can use it in a browser at, or download an app for your computer or phone and sign into the workspace there. Keep in mind that our Slack workspace is unique to our class–you can’t access it from! Unlike the course blog, Slack is only visible to members of our class.

Why are we using two platforms? Because one of the lessons I want you to take from this class is how to choose the right tool for the job. We’ll use the course blog to post and share finished work, and we’ll use Slack for informal discussion and behind-the-scenes work in process.

Watch: Setting up a website


Every week I will give you a list of tasks to complete, and they should be completed in the order listed because they will often build on each other. This block is where you’ll find assignments, which will usually be links to standalone pages to reduce confusion in the assignment and the main module page.

  1. See my welcome and Module 0 overview email if you missed it.
  2. Make an account for the course blog here. You will need to use your email unless you make other arrangements with me. You don’t need to use your real name, but make it safe for work and try to use a close variation for all your other accounts so I know who is who.
  3. You are responsible for remembering all your usernames and passwords for this class! And there will be a lot of them. Make a plan for keeping track of them that is not A. writing them on your hand B. writing them on a piece of paper or C. putting them in a doc on your computer or phone. I use LastPass, which is a free password manager that works across devices. There’s also Keeper Security1Password, and many others.
  4. After making your account on the course site, make a comment at the very bottom of this post saying hello. It won’t show up right away–I need to manually approve your first comment for security reasons. This is just to make sure your account is ready to go for future assignments.
  5. Make a Slack account in our class workspace. Again, you’ll need to use your email unless you make other arrangements with me by email.
  6. Once your Slack account is verified, say hello in the #intros channel of our workspace–instructions are there so that I know you found them!
  7. Log how you spend your time on this spreadsheet. The instructions for this are intentionally vague! I will explain why during our first Zoom meeting.
  8. Fill out the form below confirming you understand the requirements of the course
  9. Make a Github account
  10. Do the Basic HTML & CSS assignment and post it on Friday.
  11. Read and respond to this week’s materials in the #module0 channel on Slack.

Watch: About Me and My Teaching Philosophy


Every week we’ll have some material to read, listen to, or watch, to help orient us to the week’s work. Because we’re not meeting in person and we’re only doing 1-1.5 hours of optional Zoom meetings, my goal each week is to provide you with assigned reading, writing, and work tasks that roughly approximate the time we would spend in class together. The University expects students to spend about 3 hours working outside of class per credit hour, so accordingly you should expect to spend 10-12 hours on this class every week (3 hours “in class” time + 9 hours out of class time). In weeks where we have more hands-on tasks, there will be less reading.

With the exception of discussion starter videos, I am extremely flexible about due dates. Please be in touch via email if you need extra time, just so I know when to expect things.

If you are an undergraduate, you only need to read the materials listed each week in the “Everyone” section. If you are a PhD or MA student, you should read the materials in the “Everyone” and “Grad” sections. If you are enrolled in the BA/MA program, you should read the materials in the “Everyone” and “Grad” sections.


  1. Arguing with Digital History working group, “Digital History and Argument,” white paper, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, (November 13, 2017):
  2. WordPress Editor orientation
  3. Getting Started with Slack: read all items in the “Intro to Slack” section
  4. Using Slack and Your Slack Profile: Useful information on navigation, accessibility, notifications, and searching
  5. Do Digital Natives Exist? (video autoplays) I’ve assigned this because I think the “digital natives” problem sums up why many history majors are wary of technology–we’re very good at consuming history online (especially via searching on google or a library database) but have no training in producing history online. Doing digital analysis and learning technology is something you can learn–it’s a skill just like any other!


  1. Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein, “Introduction: Why Data Science Needs Feminism,” in Data Feminism (PubPub, 2020),
  2. Ten Commandments of Grad School Not about DH, but good professional life advice, especially in an age where much of our professional lives are online.
  3. How I Use Twitter as an Academic We won’t be using Twitter in this class, but Twitter is where a lot of DH and non-DH academic conversation happens these days. I think it’s a good idea to start cultivating a professional presence online early in your career, especially if (like me) you have some odd search results come up when someone googles your name. (An adult film actress–not me!–used to be the top result for my name)


In the #module0 channel on Slack, make a brief post about the “Digital History and Argument” and Data Feminism readings (and optionally others). Use the TQE (thoughts, questions, and epiphany) structure for your response–we will be using this structure for your discussion starter group assignment next week, so now is a good time to start practicing.

Start with your thoughts and reactions to the reading, what it is about, and what it is trying to do. Wherever possible, please refer to direct evidence in the texts in the form of quotes, arguments, or examples.

From there, share any questions you have – for example, what didn’t you understand? What do you want to know more about? What would you like your classmates to discuss? You may have other kinds of questions and that’s great, just make sure they are questions that open up, rather than shut down discussion.

Finally, share an epiphany that you had while reading. An epiphany is a sudden revelation, a lightning bolt of insight where something you hadn’t understood suddenly becomes clear – or where something you once assumed or believed suddenly shifts. Epiphanies can be mind-blowing moments or quieter realizations, but they should nonetheless demonstrate how your thinking or understanding has grown.

Your response here only needs to be about two paragraphs, to help us start thinking about data and our relation to it this semester. You can split your TQE across one long initial comment on Slack, or come back later and split it up in responses to classmates.

I’m not requiring you to respond to a certain number of classmates, but you will get as much out of this class as you put in–talking to one another will help you deepen your own understanding!

Watch: What are File Paths

File paths are the “address” of all the files on a computer, and understanding what they mean will make this week’s assignment and your life in general easier.

Assignment: Basic HTML and CSS

In this assignment, you’ll write a basic HTML page from scratch and start to learn how to interact with it using CSS. The end product of this HTML page will be posted publicly on the web, so only post information you’re ok with posting publicly or sharing with class.

For this assignment, you will need a text editor. I recommend Atom, Sublime Text, or Komodo Edit (not Komodo IDE). These are all free and easy to download. Do not try to do this assignment in Word, Google Docs or other wordprocessing programs. Word processors add extra human-invisible formatting information that will mess things up. Text programs like Notepad and TextEdit should also be avoided.

For the text for this assignment, you can use your answers to the Slack #intros post, your CV, a little blurb about yourself, whatever you like. You’ll also need an image that you can upload online.

If you get stuck or want to chat about your awesome color palette, come talk on Slack. Part of the in-person experience of this class is being subjected to my music choices on workshop days, so if you’d like to replicate that experience at home, you can listen to my dubstep, hipster country, or chill hipster Pandora stations while you work.

When you’re done, your page should include:

  • At least three colors
  • At least one header (h1, h2, h3, etc)
  • At least two divs with different classes that are styled differently
  • At least one link
  • Something with a border
  • Something with padding
  • Something with margin
  • Two Google fonts: one for the body and one for the header
  • At least one image

Some examples from last year’s class for inspiration, shared with permission:

Comment on this page by midnight Friday with a link to your page once it’s uploaded!  Use your new coding skills to write a pretty link using <a href=”[link here]”>link text</a>! When everyone has posted their pages, I’ll post a poll to Slack so we can vote for the best pages.

Adapted from lessons by Miriam Posner and Jarah Moesch.

62 replies on “0: Getting Started”

I’ve been meaning to put together a website for a while to house my CV / a blog that perhaps, maybe, someday, I will eventually write, so I used this assignment as motivation to actually get it done.

I bought hosting and a domain name, so it can be found at instead of on GitHub. Professor Kane, if you’d like me to upload a simplified version to GitHub for the purposes of this class, please let me know and I will do so!

I do have a GitHub account (which I just purged, since it was filled with all kinds of half finished data science projects) that you can find here.

That’s fine; no need to upload a second version. The main point of this assignment was to get folks with no previous experience a look at how a page is built and a github account for some later assignments.

Feel free to post future assignments on the course blog or on your own domain, just make sure they’re linked back here in the comments of the corresponding module page so I can find everything.

That’s so cool you work at the Purple Heart Museum! Do you live in New Windsor? I live in Newburgh but I’m about to move to New Windsor in literally one month!

I live in Newburgh!! Right across the street from Washington’s Headquarters! I used to live in New Windsor, by Heritage Middle School, but just recently moved. Where in New Windsor are you moving?

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