Annotated Bibliography Cluster II: Writing & Reviewing History in the Digital Age

Dougherty, Jack and Nawrotzki, Kristen. Writing History in the Digital Age Ann Arbor: University of Michigan press, 2013.

Writing History in the Digital Age is a collection of essays that cover a wide variety of topics including the stat of digital history, crowdsourcing, pedagogy, analysis of big data, visualizations, public history, and collaboration. The most interesting part of the digital book was “Part 5: See What I Mean? Visual, Spatial, and Game-Based History.” In this section, three authors outline the use of visualizations and spatial data in digital history. Visualizations allow for alternate influences on historical thinking by creating a space where multiple variables may be represented and analyzed conjunctionally. John Theibault uses the famous Carte Figurative des pertes successives en hommes de l’Armée Française dans la campagne de Russie 1812–1813 to show the reader how Minard produces an easily understandable narrative on a single page through the use of his visualization. This essay shows how visualizations have advanced from a supplementary object to a primary one allowing for arguments to be made within them. The intended audience

Graham, Shawn, Ian Milligan, Scott Weingart. The Historian’s Macroscope – working title. Under contract with Imperial College Press. Open Draft Version, Autumn 2013,

The Historian’s Macroscope is a particularly interesting reading created through the collaboration of Shawn Graham, Ian Milligan, and Scott Weingart, as well as the collaboration of a public audience who edited the text as it was written publicly. The text is aimed at students in an effort to get a larger number of people participating in digitals scholarship, legitimizing it. The intention of the work is to bring the use of digital tools to the public, as many do not know their potential. The authors also provide as variety of exercises in an effort to make tools more approachable. Their text brings digital history to those who knew nothing about it, or thought there was too large a divide to cross in learning to utilize it.

Gold, Matthew K. Debates in the Digital Humanities. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012.

Debates in the Digital Humanities is yet another interesting publication in the field of Digital humanities, while pertaining to digital history as well. This book is comprised of a variety of blog posts and tweets from lead scholars in the field discussing the state of their field, new approaches, pedagogical methods, and other debates. The purpose of this text is to assign a location of the Digital Humanities in both the public and academic sphere. The intended audience of this work are students and professionals interested in the Digital humanities.

Blevins, Cameron. “Mining and Mapping the Production of Space.” Online accompaniment to “Space, Nation, and the Triumph of Region: A View of the World from Houston.” Journal of American History. Vol. 101, No. 1. June 2014,

Blevins provides us with an intense and detailed methodology section in an effort to help the reader better understand the research and visualizations used to support his argument in the original article published in the JAH. Blevins addresses the problems of an abundance of sources, digitized collections, optical character recognition, and deterioration in his research. Most importantly, this article gives young historians and graduate students insight into the intricate workings of such an impressive visualization such as the one produced. Hopefully metagraphs such as this become commonplace in the profession, even in traditional history, as it allows the reader to pull back the curtain on interesting and applicable articles.

Gibbs, Fred and Owens, Trevor. “The Hermeneutics of Data and Historical Writing,” Writing History in the Digital Age Ann Arbor: University of Michigan press, 2013.

In this essay, Fed Gibbs and Trevor Owens call for a revolutionizing of the way historians write, particularly they call for methodological transparency in historical writing. Their argument is exactly this, as they request for the creation of discussions involving data inquiries, workflows, the productions and interpretation of visualizations, productive failure, and a variety of other explanations. The authors claim that the abundancy of data in the digital age presents the historian, particularly the digital historian, with a new problem as they must now explain that methodology used to simplify or sort through this vast number of entries. The authors also call for new interpretations of data, in the sense of letting the data speak for itself and create an argument, instead of using data to corroborate the argument you have produced. The intended audience of this work is both the professional and the student, as both benefit from the strict recording of methods.

Blevins, Cameron. “The New Wave of Reviews” Posts (blog), March 7, 2016,

In his blog post, Cameron Blevins pits the two styles of digital review against one another, the “digital high-five” and the traditional journal review. With a recent influx of traditional reviews, the climate of digital history is beginning to change to a strangely traditional format, that of a print journal. Blevins addresses the drawbacks of print reviews, particularly the traditional historian reviewing the nontraditional project, the unifying ties of methodology and how they shape non-print reviews, and the time it takes a review to be published. The last often greets the reader with a project that has had over a year of changes, sometimes providing an entirely new experience.

Georgini, Sara. “Reviewing Digital History” The Junto, January 20, 2016,

This blog takes the word review very differently. At The Junto, Georgini rpovdes us with a interview style transcript of her conversation with Dr. Jeffrey McClurken. In this post, they discuss everything from motivation and inspiration to the effect of the public reviewing on the historian, something that is common in digital history. This blog’s intended audience is graduate students and professionals as it offers insight into the peer review processes of digital history.

Digital History Reviews, Organization of American Historians/ Journal of American History,

In this website, the OAH creates official guidelines for the reviewing of a digital history project. Generally, the projects must be addressed in four areas: content, form, audience/use, and new media. All of these together supposedly cover topics such as interpretations, point of views, scholarship, ease of use, clear arguments, its audience and their needs, and finally, does it do something that text could not? The guidelines provided here are an excellent base for reviewing digital history, but may not contain everything one needs for the process. The audience of the website are reviews, both professionals and students alike.

Lichtenstein, Alex, Joshua Sternfeld, Stephen Robertson, Natalie Zacek, and Vincent Brown. “AHR Exchange: Reviewing Digital History” The American Historical Review. Vol. 121, No. 1, February 2016: 141-186

The AHR recently released a series of exchanges regarding the nature of the review process they have applied to digital projects. This exchange will prove vital in the establishment of standards for these reviews, as the author must be given a chance to respond in many cases of digital history. The born digital projects they review are Digital Harlem: Everyday Life 1915-1930 and Slave Revolt in Jamaica, 1760-1761: A Cartographic Narrative. Both of these projects are available online to the public, are reviewed in a similar fashion, but served entirely different purposes. Digital Harlem was critiqued for not having any historiographical contribution, but the project was not intended to make an argument and was instead meant to be used as a research aid for the authors. Slave Revolt in Jamaica on the other hand has a clear argument, and while the reviewer may not agree with Brown’s conclusions, she does claim that the project presents a clear historiographical contribution. The use of this exchange is that it allows the reader, and the journal, to establish a normal review process that will allow digital scholarship to break through into print journals.

Guldi, jo, David Armitage, Deborah Cohen, and Peter Mandler. “AHR Exchange: On the History Manifesto” The American Historical Review Vol. 120, No. 2, April 2015: 527-554.

Instead of critiquing The History Manifesto on its argument, the reviewers focus on the misinterpretation of sources in the text. Cohen and Mandler take issue with the misrepresentation of data and evidenc used to support the argument of the return to the long duree as presented by Guldi and Armitage. Their out of context interpretations and incorrect graphs often lead to the opposite conclusion intended by the sourced author. Guldi and Armitage respond to the reviewers by attacking their tone of review, rather than their points. Instead of addressing the problems presented by the reviewers, they simply try to reaffirm their argument. This exchange shows some of the difficulties in the public review of a monograph, something that is often done in digital history.


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