I TA’d for the first time last spring, my last semester in my masters program. It was the first time I had ever taught and I quickly learned that leading a discussion section and getting freshman interested in World History was challenging. I came away from the semester realizing, what may be obvious to those more experienced teachers, that teaching history to undergrads from a variety of majors is more difficult that it appears.
Franco Moretti’s article “Graphs, Maps, and Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History,” shows how most histories of the book have focused on a few particular books rather than the novel as a genre. This has probably had to do with scale. It would be an overwhelming and almost impossible task to read every single novel in order to write a comprehensive and all-encompassing history of the novel. However, this is where Big Data allows historians to look at large trends in ways that are impractical without computers.
As I’ve mentioned a few times before I am interested in ideas about the body and beauty in the early twentieth century. My digital resource is a research tool that would help me to analyze the mass amounts of newspaper articles available. Background Between 1900 and 1940 there were several distinct shifts in the ideas of beauty and physical culture for women in the United States. Shifts in the image and role of the New Woman, from the Gibson Girl to the Flapper, were accompanied by changes in the ideal female body.
In Richard White’s article «What is Spatial History?,» he discusses the turn to spatial history and the ways in which it can be used as a research tool to enhance historical scholarship. His article was fascinating and really got me thinking about different spatial history projects I’ve seen. Two that come to mind is «Visualizing Emancipation», run by Scott Nesbit and Edward Ayers at the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, and The Geography of Hate, run by Monica Stephens at Humboldt State University.
I posted these in the Zotero group, but I thought I would add them here as well. I think these are two interesting examples of spatial history. Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the American City is an example of using a spatial history component to bolster an argument. We have been talking about Digital History and whether it needs to make an argument all semester and I think _Mapping Decline _is a great example of a project that does that.