Brenden W. Rensink – Intermountain Histories as Digital Public History & Pedagogy

My name is Brenden W. Rensink and I am excited to be participating on the 2018 Western History Association Digital Sixshooter panel in San Antonio! Allow me a moment to introduce myself and the topic that I will be discussing next week.

I am the Assistant Director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies and an Assistant Professor of History at Brigham Young University. To the present, I have studied and published primarily in the North American West subfields of borderlands and Indigenous studies. In June I published a comparative Native Borderlands monograph, Native but Foreign: Indigenous Immigrants and Refugees in the North American Borderlands (Texas A&M Press, 2018). More germane to our Digital Sixshooters panel, in my position at the BYU Redd Center I am pivoting towards public history in many of my new endeavors, including the Intermountain Histories digital public history project and the Writing Westward Podcast.

For our panel, I focus on the Intermountain Histories project. The project curates microhistories for the public to navigate and access on a map-driven website and free mobile app. It is built on the Curatescape platform. Content is produced via collaboration between myself (as Project Manager and General Editor) and professors and their students at universities around the Intermountain West region. In my brief comments I will discuss how I have structured it as a digital project with two primary goals: 1. Serve the public by providing an easy-to-use digital history resource. 2. Serve professors and students as a pedagogical tool. I am increasingly convinced that the latter is the more powerful of the projects two goals/outcomes. It is also the less obvious of the two. I believe it is a project that could be modeled by others for use in the classroom and beyond.

I look forward to seeing everyone there!

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WHA Six Shooters 2018 Lineup

Here is an alphabetical list of the presenters that we have confirmed for the Technology Committee-sponsored session, “Six-Shooters: A Digital Frontiers Lightning Round”:

  • Saara Kekki, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Andrew Torget, University of North Texas
  • Brenden Rensink, Brigham Young University
  • Margaret Sternbergh, Independent Scholar, San Antonio
  • Lauren Turek, Trinity University
  • Leslie Miller and Kyler Miller, Idaho State University
  • Gianna May Sanchez, University of Michigan
  • Jessica Nowlin, University of Texas at San Antonio
  • Sarah H. Salter, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
  • Andrew Offenburger, Miami University

The session will be chaired by Jason Heppler, University of Nebraska at Omaha, and is scheduled for Thursday, October 18, from 12:45-2:15 PM in the Directors room of the Hyatt Regency, San Antonio, Texas. Each presenter has six minutes and six slides (“Six-Shooters,” get it?) for their presentation. All presenters will entertain questions from the audience at the conclusion of all of the presentations. We encourage what may seem like “basic” questions as well as “shop talk” from those in attendance.

Please check this website in the days leading up to the conference for posts by each presenter introducing themselves and providing brief descriptions of the work they plan to present.

2017 WHA Six-Shooters Session

The 2017 Six-Shooters digital history lightning round session, sponsored by the WHA Technology Committee, featured nine presenters sharing their research, teaching, and public projects at the WHA conference in San Diego, CA (photos by Doug Seefeldt, session chair):

  • Adam Arenson, Manhattan College
  • Jared Eberle, Oklahoma State University
  • Jason Heppler, University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Jessica Kim, California State University, Northridge
  • Chris Repka, St. Mary’s University
  • Douglas Seefeldt, Ball State University
  • Jay Taylor, Simon Fraser University
  • Bryan Winston, St. Louis University
  • Linnea Zeiner, San Diego State University

Jason Heppler: The American Indian Digital History Project

Greetings! I am Jason Heppler. I am at the University of Nebraska at Omaha where I am the Digital Engagement Librarian and an Assistant Professor of History. UNO has a major focus on community engagement and service learning, and in my role there I lead initiatives in public history and digital engagement. That mission forms a key part in the soft launch of the American Indian Digital History Project, led by Kent Blansett and myself.

The aim of our project is to develop and cooperative digital archive, seeking to partner with Native Nations and Indigenous communities throughout Native North America. Our plan is to digitize newspapers, photographs, and archival materials in order to increase access to historical Tribal documents and encourage responsible research into American Indian history. As part of these partnerships, we will also work with Tribal governments to create a digital repository for local Tribes. The initial launch of the archive has digitized the entire run of Akwesasne Notes and will soon be digitizing and releasing a Native-produced law journal, plate glass negative photographs, and material acquired through our Mobile Archives initiative.

Linnea Zeiner: HACKING History

Hi everyone! My name is Linnea Zeiner and I am a Lecturer at San Diego State University and a doctoral student in Communication at UCSD. In The Department of Classics and Humanities at SDSU I am exploring inverted approaches to teaching Honors and GE Courses utilizing transmedia, deformance, and mixed realities. I work out of the experimental and collaborative environment of the ITS Learning Research Studios, where students utilize state of the art technology to engage in visual analyzations and critique social constructions.

In my talk, Hacking History with Layered Student Research, I will share how undergraduate students at San Diego State University are being connected across disciplines through digital learning activities. This multi-modal presentation outlines Digital Humanities pedagogical research that began in the Spring of 2015 with lower-division U.S. History classes and has continued through 2017 with upper-division Humanities classes on “The Future” and American Culture. The designed pedagogy is highly influenced by Michael J. Kramer, The Situationists, Johanna Drucker’s visual production of knowledge, media theory, and punk pedagogy.

Doug Seefeldt: “The Last of the Mohicans Realized in London”: Visualizing the Wild West in Britain, 1887-88

In 1887, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody embarked for England on his first international tour. During the original London run of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West–coinciding with the celebration of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee–the Wild West routinely played to more than twenty thousand people in fourteen performances a week. It was the subject of nonstop coverage in the London press and enthralled the country’s political and cultural elites. Over two million visitors witnessed the spectacle, and millions more read about it.

This digital research project uses topic modeling and text analysis tools to analyze popular representations of the American West published in London prior to the arrival of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in 1887. It visualizes how these widely-read texts shaped and reflected conceptions of the American West among the British reading public and compares these visualizations to textual analyses of promotional material generated by Cody’s marketing team as well to commentary on the performances in British periodicals and newspapers.

Preliminary findings suggest that while Cody was depicted as the “Last of the Mohicans” in the Illustrated Penny Press upon his arrival in England–a representation that conflated early and late-nineteenth-century American frontier experiences–he departed having conveyed to his imperial-era British audience a new sense of the American West as the locus of a distinctive crucible of civilization-building in an increasingly globalized age.

Jessica Kim: Form and Landscape

Greetings from Los Angeles!  My “Six Shooter” will focus on Form and Landscape: Southern California Edison and the Los Angeles Basin, 1940-1990, a digital exhibit organized in 2014 as part of Pacific Standard Time Presents, a Getty Research Institute initiative designed to showcase Southern California’s impact on modern architecture and urban forms.  A corporate photography archive, particularly of a utility company, might at first sound incredibly mundane.  However, the Southern California Edison photo archive, from which this exhibit drew, is arguably the most vast and compelling visual narrative of explosive metropolitan growth in Los Angeles.

Form and Landscape was not the first digital exhibit of its type and it certainly will not be the last.  The project creators and curators, however, believe that the exhibit was remarkable for a number of reasons, almost all related to scope and scale.  The archive from which we drew contains an astounding 70,000 images.  These images were produced over almost a century (late 1880s to 1970s).  The images capture landscapes from across California and beyond, from home kitchens to the Hoover Dam.  The project involved eighteen curators and the exhibit included over 500 images.  Themes and images range from the small and intimate (text and domesticity) to the expansive and vast (landscape and technology).  And finally, we welcomed far more virtual visitors than we will ever have readers of our books or articles: 60,000 at last count.

The exhibit lives here: http://pstp-edison.com/

And you can access the archive here: http://cdm16003.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p16003coll2