Tag Archives: South African history

South African Digital History

South African History in a Digital AgeThis semester I’m teaching South African History in a Digital Age.

This newly created hybrid PhD seminar was inspired by much of what I’ve learned in my 2+ years as Director of Digital History at Matrix and the History Department at MSU. I also benefited from the help of Anthea Josias (@AntheaJosias), a South African postdoctoral fellow and friend, who spent many hours with me sharing ideas, conceptualizing, and even assisting with the design of the course WordPress site during the fall of 2013.

For the past 12 weeks, six students from our nationally ranked African history graduate program and I met face-to-face every Thursday afternoon for three hours. As one would expect in a hybrid course, much intellectual work and dialogue takes place outside of regularly scheduled class meetings, mainly on student blogs and on Twitter (@za_prof1 and #ZAdhist). (Click here to visit the class site on the open web.)

April is devoted to the final assignment: a capstone digital project rather than the conventional journal article-length research paper usually assigned in a research seminar. Over the course of the term, each seminarian selected a topic, compiled a preliminary bibliography, outlined research questions and a work plan, and then received formal approval from me. Today I’m evaluating the status of projects. Formal presentations begin in a couple of weeks.

Tackling a digital project seems to have unleashed students’ creative energies. There is a Nelson Mandela Memory Project via Twitter; an online course on “The Culture of Sport in South Africa”; an Omeka-curated exhibit on Visual History of Anti-Apartheid Posters; a TimeMapper of MK Guerrilla Activities; a Visualization of Venda Clan Histories of Migration; and a KORA-based gallery of British South Africa Company documents during the Scramble for Africa. Click here for more info on each project.