Syllabus and Course Info

WPA Arts Project Calendar

Welcome to History 390, The Digital Past: A Cultural New Deal!

In this course you will learn how to do history using a variety of digital tools. This course — which fulfills the university’s Core IT requirement — will teach you the fundamentals of information technology through creative engagement with historical methods and sources. Throughout the semester, we will learn how to use and apply digital tools to the study of America in the 1930s. Our focus will be on Federal Project Number One, a group of federally-funded and administrated agencies meant to get American artists back to work after the Great Depression. We will explore these projects--including the Federal Writers' Project, Federal Art Project, Federal Music Project, and Federal Theatre Project--for what they can teach us about the larger social, cultural, and political movements of the decade.

No background in history or technology is required to succeed in this course. During the semester, you will learn how to engage with primary sources through digital tools and put them into conversation with secondary sources to make historical arguments and tell digital stories about the past. This class prioritizes doing history. Therefore, attention will be given to asking historical questions; finding, analyzing, and presenting sources; and reflecting on what these questions and methods mean in the digital age.

In this course you will:

  • explore the history of the 1930s, particularly New Deal-era arts and culture projects;
  • create historical scholarship using digital collections and tools; and
  • publish your work online.

This course also fulfills the University’s IT requirements which has the following goals:

  • Students will understand the principles of information storage, exchange, security, and privacy and be aware of related ethical issues.
  • Students will become critical consumers of digital information; they will be capable of selecting and evaluating appropriate, relevant, and trustworthy sources of information.
  • Students can use appropriate information and computing technologies to organize and analyze information and use it to guide decision-making.
  • Students will be able to choose and apply appropriate algorithmic methods to solve a problem.