For those of you who I haven’t worked with before, I’m Prof. Kane and I’m an early Americanist working on Indigenous women’s history in what’s now New York; a lot of the sample data we’ll be working with this semester will be from my own research. I use she/her pronouns, and if you have preferred pronouns or a preferred name that is different than what’s on the class roster, please do let me know and feel free to use your preferred name when making accounts for our class.
There are no required books or software to purchase for this course, but you will need home access to a Mac or PC you can install software on. An iPad, Chromebook, phone, or other tablet device will not be able to install the software we’ll be learning. Normally I don’t require this, because the campus computers all have the software we use, but since access to campus may be limited this semester, I’m requiring it this time. If you don’t have home access to a computer for this class, please email me.
I haven’t finished uploading all of the videos for this semester yet [NB as of Feb 1 2021 all videos are up], but you can access the course website at dhpracticum21.maevekane.net. Everything besides the videos, including the weekly reading, assignments, and your weekly tasks are up. The class is divided into weekly modules that are intended to be completed in order starting with Module 0 on February 1-February 5 and with tasks completed in the order listed on each module page. I suggest looking over the Module 0 page and getting started signing up for the accounts we will be using this semester. Everything we’ll be using is free, but there are several accounts to keep track of. Please email me if you encounter difficulties.
This class is designated synchronous in the University system, but our scheduled meetings on Wednesday afternoons (3-5:50PM) are optional and will likely not take up our full scheduled time. You can complete this class entirely asynchronously if you need to, and I am not requiring attendance at our Zoom meetings. We will have readings discussion asynchronously on Slack (see the Module 0 page if you’re unfamiliar with this platform), and our synchronous Zoom time will be used for some short activities and troubleshooting assignments. On Monday February 1 I will email the Zoom link we will be using to meet for the semester; for security reasons it will not be posted publicly on the course website.
For reading discussion, I will be assigning you all to small groups that will each be responsible for filming a discussion starter on one week’s reading. You will need to meet via Zoom with your small group during the second week of class to discuss your assigned readings. The requirements for this are listed on the Module 1 page. After you review the requirements, please email me as soon as possible if you have any questions or concerns.
Finally, I want you all to know how excited I am to work with you this semester. This class is my favorite to teach, and in the six times I’ve taught this class, students have done some really cool projects and gone on to even more cool research and jobs. This is the first time I’m teaching this class entirely online, so if anything doesn’t quite work, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts.
This class will be frustrating and may be overwhelming at points–we’re going to learn a little computer programming and some very different modes of thought that will stretch your skills as historians. You will be literally learning new languages. You’ve all gotten to the points where you are in your programs because you’re very good at reading, writing, and thinking in particular ways as historians; this class will be challenging at points because you’ll be learning new ways to read, write, and think, in ways that I hope will be helpful for you long term in your careers.
I also hope that along the way it’ll be fun, or at least interesting. I started learning to code when I was about 13 by writing sparkly cursors for MySpace and GeoCities back in the old days of the internet; many academics working in digital history now had no formal training in working with data or computer programming. I believe very strongly in the value of fucking around with fun nonsense as a way to learn new things. Math, programming, coding, and even just computers sometimes strike fear into the hearts of historians, but I promise that these are all skills that you can learn.
If you have accommodations paperwork, please email me and let me know if you have any concerns; graduate students are entitled to accommodations and I am happy to work with you. Please feel free to email if you have any other questions or concerns, or if you’re just really excited about this semester. If you know anyone who might also be interested in taking the class, tell your friends there’s still room. 🙂