Weekly Readings, Questions, Postings and Participation (30%)

On a weekly basis you will be asked to provide questions related to the week’s assigned reading. We will be using these questions to guide class conversations, so please remember to include a page number or other form of reference for web sites, etc. for each question. For some weeks, questions may be replaced by a short-essay length assignment.

Participation in class discussion is of the utmost importance and students will be expected to engage with the readings and their fellow classmates.

An important part of your participation grade will be the presentation of your work at different stages to the class. (see details in Historical Essay section below)

Projects (70%)

The core projects of this course is built around three types of assignments: historical essays, chronographies, and web redesign prototypes.

  • Historical essays – Each student will be responsible for researching and writing essays on two research topics of their choice. These essays should consider the mission of OutHistory.org and should both be compatible with the site’s mission and be written with the public nature of the site in mind. This will affect your style or prose, length of text per page, how you integrate visual and audio media to accompany text, and how you connect to other texts online.
  • Chronographies – Students will compose a chronography for each of their historical essays in two different versions. Each chronography will be composed of at least eight important dates connected to their research. The first chronography will utilize the Timeline JS platform for the creation of algorithmically composed timelines. Students will be then asked to contemplate the form of these timelines and execute a more creative and less structurally pre-defined approach to the visualization of their dates.
  • Web Redesign Prototypes – Students will work in groups to reenvision OutHistory.org’s site design. Starting with an early analysis and course site post, students will familiarize themselves with the site’s mission and consider to what extent it achieves its goal and how design improvements could enhance its effectiveness. Through a draft and iteration process students will move from initial concepts, to early drafts, to a final revised prototype proposal. This project will integrate students’ increasing familiarity with the course’s reading list as well as the work they will be doing laying out and designing their essays and chronographies. In addition, professional designer/developers will visit the class to provide critiques and feedback of student work to help them better understand the design process and improve their work.

See more specific details and dates of delivery below.

Topic Selection Proposal (600+ words) (5%)

This brief proposal will describe which two research topics you intend to pursue for your historical essays. You will be asked to provide a narrative rationale as to why this project matches the mission of OutHistory.org, at least 4 of the minimum of 8 dates for each essay’s timeline, and some sources that you used to guide your decision. Please submit as a new post on the course site and add your Category name to the post and check off the Theme Proposal category as well.

  • DUE MARCH 1

Two Historical Essays (2000+ words each) (25%)

Where possible your essay should include images, video, maps, etc. to add to the visual richness of your content. Research will require at least six sources per essay.

These two essays will be composed on the course’s WordPress site. Using the WordPress site serves a number of purposes: 1) the easier integration of multimedia than a Word document or PDF 2) the possibility to experiment with modular and possibly non-linear narratives 3) and to chance to gain familiarity with how content management systems integrate form and content in a less direct way than traditional word processing tools. All three of these practices will assist you in the generation of ideas for the web redesign prototype project.

During the middle of the semester you will be asked to present your research in process on either the March 29 or April 5 session and assign a reading relevant to your research for your classmates to read. (Presentation part of participation grade)

  • PRESENTATIONS ON EITHER MARCH 29 OR APRIL 5 (TWO GROUPS)
  • DRAFTS DUE APRIL 5
  • PROJECT REVIEW MAY 10
  • FINAL WORK DUE MAY 15

 Chronographies (15%)

Your two chronographies will each consist of at least eight dates relevant to the historical essay it accompanies. Your first version, a timeline, will be composed using Timeline JS. This tool uses simple Google spreadsheets to generate a timeline and accompanying embedding code that allows for easy platform on platforms such as WordPress and Omeka. A workshop on February 15 will teach you how to use Timeline JS.

The second version of your chronography will be a creative experiment in the visualization of time. This expression of time should be more specifically designed to work with the content of your historical essay and provide a complex representation of the role of time and history in your essay topic. These chronographies can be executed using any form of digital tool from InDesign to Photoshop to Illustrator to Prezi to Powerpoint or others.

  • TIMELINE JS VERSION DUE MARCH 22
  • FINAL CHRONOGRAPHY DUE MAY 15

Web Redesign Prototype (25%)

Your web redesign prototype will include the following:

  • Design for the front page of the site that provides navigation for the site in a way that integrates essays, chronographies, archives, and project information.
  • Content navigation view that organizes, categorizes, and connects different essays and materials in an easily navigable interface.
  • Essay view for one essay topic that includes text, media, and navigation features to other parts of the site, especially to relevant associated essays and materials.
  • Time view that allows for the presentation of dates related to individual essays, subgroups of essays, or the entire site.

Remember that these are first stage prototypes, and it is more important to represent how aspects of your design are laid out, spaced, and sized rather than details such as font, color, etc. These prototypes can be executed using any form of digital tool from InDesign to Photoshop to Illustrator to Prezi to Powerpoint or other digital prototyping tools.

A full day of the course will be reserved for the presentation of drafts and final prototypes. A designer/developers team will be joining us on those two days to provide feedback on your work.

  • DRAFT DUE APRIL 12
  • FINAL DUE MAY 3

All students’ work due by midnight May 15, 2016.