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HSTCMP 292 A: Exploring History through New Media and Technologies

Meeting Time: 
TTh 11:30am - 12:50pm
CMU 228
Eric Johnson
Eric W. Johnson

Syllabus Description:

Tiles made by Seattle students in the 1980s and placed in the Peace Park in TashkentBusiness West-East magazine, 1992

Exploring History through New Media and Technology

This course brings together technology and history in true partnership. For humanities and social-science majors, it provides the opportunity to develop and demonstrate technical skills in a flexible and welcoming environment. For science and technology majors, it offers the chance to dig into the analysis and communications competencies that lie at the heart of the historian's tradecraft.

The course incorporates a weekly technology lab section, in which the instructor will assist students in learning and using new technical skills. No prior expertise is required.


Spring Quarter Theme

This quarter we will be examining the rich history of citizen diplomacy, cultural exchange, and peace activism between the Pacific Northwest and the Soviet Union in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s.

Under the shadow of superpower confrontation and nuclear threat, everyday residents of the USA and USSR rolled up their sleeves and went to work building connections. Here in the Northwest, they spearheaded the Seattle-Tashkent Sister City Initiative; the "Target Seattle" symposium series; the 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle; and dozens of other business, cultural, educational, and humanitarian partnerships. In so doing, they made a strong case that everyday citizens can make a real difference in the sphere of national and international politics--a lesson with renewed relevance in our own time of rising global tensions and grass-roots activism. 



Students in the course will work as hands-on historians--researching and writing some of these stories of citizen initiative, and bringing them to a wider audience via our public course website. Course assignments are structured with this overall goal in mind.

  • Projects (2) - each project will involve choosing and telling a particular historical story, connected with the course theme. Students will:

    • Select and study primary source materials (with aid of instructor)
    • Synthesize and analyze these sources, contextualized by course lectures and readings
    • Write up the story by summarizing sources and analysis
    • Publish the story with a professional and engaging presentation
  • Subject matter quizzes (2) - short quizzes demonstrating knowledge of the Cold War experience in America based on readings and lectures
  • Technology quiz (1) - short quiz covering survey knowledge of new media technologies and platforms used in the digital humanities
  • Participation - regular contribution to class discussions and technology sections, effective collaboration with your peers on the course project site, in-class reading-response exercises

Each student project will be published via our publicly-available course website. For the first project, all students will work in a traditional webpage format. For the second project, students may optionally choose an alternate technology format (for example, GIS mapping, podcast, animation, etc.), subject to instructor's approval.


Learning Goals

  • Develop and expand research skills.
  • Develop and expand source synthesis and analysis skills.
  • Develop and expand persuasive and expositive communications skills.
  • Develop and demonstrate web-based presentation skills.
  • Develop and demonstrate small-team collaboration skills.
  • (Optional) Develop and demonstrate an additional area of technical competence (for example, podcast, video, animation, or GIS), subject to the approval of the instructor.



There are no required books. Readings will be made available electronically via the course website or the UW Libraries website. 

A useful general overview of Cold War events from a US perspective is Ralph Levering's The Cold War: A Post-Cold War History (Wiley, 2016). The book is available online via UW Libraries, but students who prefer to have a hardcopy for reference may wish to order it before the beginning of the quarter.


Catalog Description: 
Practice history through hands-on work with new media technologies: web, podcast, video, online maps. Students work together to build project site, focusing on specific historical theme chosen by instructor. Students exercise common historical skills - source-based research, analysis, and narrative presentation - while also developing and demonstrating new technical competencies. No prior technical expertise required.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:07pm