Core Concepts

This page introduces the core philosophical concepts I wish to teach you, and includes details on the readings, the collaborative web annotation framework we’re using, and the various policies in place for this course.

According to section 2 of FASS Undergraduate Teaching Regulations and Procedures, 2017-18, this course outline constitutes a contract between you the student, and me, the professor. However, the word ‘syllabus’ (aka, the course outline), it seems is based on a misreading of a misprint of the greek word ‘sittybis’, meaning a table of contents. A table of contents is not a contract. Nevertheless, let us have a contract thus:

I, Shawn Graham, agree to undertake to the best of my abilities, the task of challenging, guiding, and fostering in you, a deeper appreciation, awareness, and understanding for the ideas discussed in this class. You, for your part, agree to undertake the necessary intellectual work to meet me halfway, bringing your best abilities to bear, endeavoring to be receptive and prepared for all course-related activities. Together, we agree to create a community of learning and practice, such that true learning may occur.

Core Philosophical Perspectives

Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” In Illuminations, 217-51. New York: Schocken Books, 1968.

Read online at:

Latour, Bruno, and A. Lowe. “The Migration of the Aura – or How to Explore the Original Through Its Facsimiles”, In. T. Bartscherer and R. Coover (editors) Switching Codes. Thinking Through Digital Technology in the Humanities and the Arts, University of Chicago Press pp. 275-297, 2011.

Read online at:

Fogu, Claudio. “Digitalizing Historical Consciousness”. History and Theory, Theme Issue 47, (2009) 103-121.

Read online while connected to the Carleton VPN if off campus at:

Wiley Online Library

Nowviskie, Bethany. “Resistance in the Materials”, Blog. Later published in Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016.

Read the blog version as it is easier to annotate at:

More readings will of course be provided, but these pieces together in this reading order set the stage for what we shall attempt to do in this course.

Finally, for an example of the kind of work, polish, and reflective depth I’m looking for in your final work in this course, please see

Chan, Tiffany. Act Natural 2016.

This work was produced for Jentery Sayer’s ENGL508 at the University of Victoria. A 3rd year project by a Carleton student from a few years ago, ‘Searching for Residential Schools’ uses the same basic template, which adds another level to this idea of remixing…


The majority of our readings are provided to you online. When you read online, please have the Hypothesis web annotation plugin installed (the link goes to the Hypothesis website). You should also consult The Quickstart Guide for Students. You do not need to use your own name as a username with; but you should let Dr. Graham know what your username is so your work can be credited appropriately.

Make your annotations to the Critical Making in Digital History reading group (the link takes you to the ‘join the group’ page). You can respond to others’ annotations, link outwards from an annotation to another website or resource, or link to an annotation from another location. Annotations are visible to anyone who joins the group. Appropriate public behaviour is expected at all times. Trolling, shaming, or abusive behaviour will not be tolerated.

Open Notebook

You will need to keep an open notebook of your experiments and your thinking in this class. You will do this by using a popular versioning control and collaboration website, Sign up for an account; you do not need to use your own name. To start, you will create a repository, initialized with a ‘’ file, called ‘Notebook’. Over the duration of the course you may end up creating many more. (You do not necessarily have to install Git on your own computer, at least for now).

Computing Resources

You are welcome to use your own laptops or desktops. You can use the computers in the Underhill Resource Room in the Department of History (but check in with Dr. Graham first). You can use the public computers in the Library or any of the public computing labs. I would not recommend trying to do everything via an iPad or other tablet, though it might be possible. You may need to use a mobile phone from time to time. If you don’t have one, you can team up with someone else.

If you have any concerns, contact Dr. Graham as soon as possible.

When things go wrong, technically speaking

This is a digital history class. Things will break. The ways things break are instructive and opportunities for reflection and learning. I expect you to be flummoxed by what we’re doing. I also expect you to be honest about when things don’t go the way you’re expecting. For more on this outlook on digital work, see this essay by Croxall and Warnick, especially the ‘curatorial statement’.

See also this talk:


I welcome collaboration. If you decide to collaborate with one (or at most, two) of your peers, I encourage that. Digital History is indeed a team sport. All collaboration must be fully and mindfully credited on any work that is completed. My expectation is that people who collaborate are able to produce a correspondingly greater piece of work. Collaborative teams should schedule an appointment with Dr. Graham as soon as possible so that he can help you lay out ground rules for your collaboration.

You are welcome to complete this course on your own, of course.

Privacy Policy

You are in no way obligated to do any of the public-facing work of this course under your own name. Pseudonyms are ok. You do not need to explain why you want to use a pseudonym to me. At all times, keep your own personal safety online front and centre: my experience of the internet, and of academic culture, will have been different from yours, and my goal is to listen more than I talk when it comes to these issues.

If you wish to use a pseudonym for your Hypothesis and Github accounts, simply send a note to Dr. Graham telling him the account name.

Now Read On: Assessment