Digital Historiography

How might we digitize not only the past itself, but also conversations and debates about the past?

A New Chart of History - Joseph Priestley, 1769A New Chart of History – Joseph Priestley, 1769.

As I watch my students develop their interpretive digital history projects on the Berkeley Folk Festival and the American folk music revival of the postwar decades, I am increasingly struck by the question of how the digital might present historiographical material. Which is to say, how might we best present existing arguments, interpretations, evidence bases, debates, and schools of thought in online form.

In the traditional analytic essay, there is an age-old and very effective structure for offering a summary of the historical conversation up to date, but the digital proposes intriguing new ways of dramatizing not only the past but also the study of the past, not only new evidence, but also the ongoing conversations about to which that evidence might be applied to produce new insight.

How, the question becomes, might we productively digitize historiography as well as history?

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