Course Description

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.

Instructor: Professor Jessica Dauterive (she/her/hers)
Email: jdauteri@gmu.edu
All course communication should be done in our Slack workspace.

Class Time: T/Th, 10:30 – 11:45
Room: Robinson Hall B203
Office Hours: T noon-1pm, or by appointment.
Office: Robinson Hall B 369B

Throughout the semester, we will learn how to use and apply digital tools to the study of America in the 1930s. We will consider the changes in American culture during this time period, and consider the ways that culture and politics intersect during and after the Great Depression. We will also consider the impact of Federal Project Number One on American society, 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 the history of the 1930s; create historical scholarship using digital collections and tools; and publish your work on the web. This class prioritizes doing history. Therefore, we will focus on asking historical questions; finding, analyzing, and presenting sources to answer those questions; and reflecting on what these questions and methods mean in the digital age.

This course is designed to help you develop five central skills:

  • historical thinking skills (question, research, and analyze),
  • reading and interpreting textual, visual, and audio sources,
  • written communication skills,
  • oral communication skills, and
  • digital skills.

This course 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 digital methods to solve a problem.