Hypermedia in History

History 197/201

Winter 1996

Instructor: Jan Reiff
Office: Bunche 9347 (825-5029)
E-mail: jreiff@ ucla.edu
Office hours: 12:00-2:00 Thursdays

Course Overview:

From the outset, it should be noted that this class will be eclectic. Its readings include a few historians, some literary critics, some computer scientists, some designers, and a handful of anonymous web writers. Some of the readings come via the traditional medium of books, others will be found only on CD-ROMs, on-line databases, and on the World Wide Web. The material your present will take various forms as well. Some will be oral, some entirely visual, some in the "traditional" written form and some as a World Wide Web page. Each of you will do some historical research of the kind you have come to expect in a research seminar, although only those who continue through the second quarter will do large amounts of research. In short, it should be exactly the kind of course that you should anticipate from its title Hypermedia in History.

The goal of the course is to have participants explore the possibilities of information technology revolution in general and hypermedia in particular for learning and presenting history. It aims to do that by having participants read what others have said about it and hands-on evaluation and development. By the end of the quarter, you will have built a World Wide Web page using HTML (hypertext mark-up language) and will have designed a web site that would work either for a teaching module in a history class or to present your own research in a new and provocative way. (Those continuing into the second quarter will actully realize these web sites.) You will have surfed the web for history resources, both good and bad. Plus, you will have considered the impact of computer technology and the World Wide Web from a number of different perspectives.

Course Requirements:

Everyone is expected to attend class regularly, do the readings and participate in class discussion. Class participation will account for 25% of your grade.

Each person will also have to develop a proposal for a World Wide Web site that could be used either for teaching an undergraduate course or as a presentation of research findings. A more detailed description of this proposal will be distributed in class and via this class's home page. This proposal will account for 40% of your grade. In addition, you will have to design and implement a WWW home page that serves as the entrance point for the project you propose. That home page will account for 10% of your grade.

Finally, there will be five short assignments, each of which will contribute 5% of your grade.

Tentative Outline of Meetings, Topics and Readings:

Please note that many of the questions and topics considered in this class make the newspapers and magazines every day. On-line news sources are also ready sources of related information. I anticipate that you will all look for relevant information in these various sources and bring it to class whenever it is appropriate. I may also provide other materials that I think you might find useful or interesting.


Jan 09 -- Course introduction, technical matters, introduction to WWW for those not familiar with it

Jan 16 -- Is the computer a "defining technology" or an overgrown typewriter? What has
the computer done for history? Thinking about history on the internet


J. David Bolter, Turing's Man

Andrew McMichael, Michael O'Malley, and Roy Rosenzweig, "Historians and the Web: A Beginner's Guide," AHA Perspectives, January 1996, also available on the World Wide Web at http://chnm.gmu.edu/chnm/beginner.html

Assignment 1:

Write a review of approximately five (5) pages of the World Wide Web as a source for "doing" history. This review should briefly describe the sites you chose and explain why you think it is particularly useful for historians (students or researchers).

A paper copy should be brought with you to class, but you should also send it to me electronically at jreiff@ucla.edu. For this assignment, I will prepare it for the WWW and post it in our class web site so that others can visit the site as well.

Some places to start include (but are not limited to):

http://web.syr.edu/~laroux/ http://h-net.msu.edu/

And you can do web searches from:


The list grows and grows .....

(note this art exhibit is only available through Feb. 28, 1996)

To see the reviews of your classmates, click here.

Jan 23 -- Historical Narratives: Presenting History


William Cronon, "A Place for Stories: Nature, History, and Narratives," Journal of American History, 78:4 (March, 1992), 1347-1376.

Please visit http://grid.let.rug.nl/~welling/usa/

Who Built America?(CD-ROM textbook, available in faculty lab, please make arrangements with J. Lally or J. Reiff

Film: Nasty Girl

Jan 30 -- Non-Linear Narratives: Hypertext


George P. Landow, Hypertext

To see one of Landow's projects on the Web, see World Wide Web (html) Versions of Materials Created in Intermedia, Storyspace, and Print
For an on-line volume, see Mike Franks, Internet Publishing Handbook

Mark Poster, "Derrida and Electronic Writing: The Subject of the Computer," in The Mode of Information, p. 99-128 (available in grad reserve)

An optional reading for those who are interested is Vannevar Bush's "As We May Think" which was published originally in the July, 1945, Atlantic Monthly. I've also put a copy in the History Department Reading Room. Thanks to Gene Moy for reminding me of this article and finding its Web location.

To see a syllabus for a class designed by one of the luminaries in this area, Michael Joyce, visit http://iberia.vassar.edu/~mijoyce/H_P.html

And to see another point of view on all of this, check out John Unsworth, Electronic Scholarship or, Scholarly Publishing and the Public

Feb 06 -- Images


John Berger, Ways of Seeing

You can see Landow using images at George P. Landow, "Margaret M. Giles's Hero and the Sublime Female Nude"

Assignment 2:

Bring at least 3 images that you might consider using in your hypermedia presentation to class. Make copies to hand in, along with a brief narrative (no more than a paragraph) explaining what you want the observer to learn from them.

Feb 13 -- Visualizing LA in Hypermedia


Thomas S. Hines, "Wilshire Boulevard," in Jan Cigliano, Sarah Bradford Landau, eds., The Grand American Avenue, 1850-1920

Thomas S. Hines, "Housing, Baseball, and Creeping Socialism: the Battle of Chavez Ravine, Los Angeles, 1949-1959"

Evelyn Schlusselberg, "Dans le Quartier St. Gervais: An Exploratory Learning Environment," in Matthew E. Hedges and Russell M. Sasnett, Multimedia Computing

To see one tour on line, check out El Camino de Santiago

Assignment 3:

Come prepared with images, texts, descriptions of audios and visuals, that you might use to provide students or Angelenos with a hypermedia history of either Wilshire Boulevard or Chavez Ravine.

Feb 20 -- Learning HTML


A handout will be provided in class on HTML and you should begin perusing the Larry Aronson, HTML Manual of Style. Also before coming to class, peruse the web to see what is available out there on HTML

Feb 27 -- Learning HTML, part II

Assignment 4:

One web ready page based on results of visualizing LA in hypermedia discussion on Feb. 13. Details of assignment will be distributed then.

Mar 05 -- A Democratic Medium?


Lewis Mumford, "Authoritarian and Democratic Techniques," Technology and Culture (Winter 1964), 1-8.

Charles Ess, "The Political Computer: Hypertext, Democracy, and Habermas," in George P. Landow, Hyper/Text/Theory, p. 225-267

Usenet, press discussion of the controversy over pornography on the net, especially recent debate between Germany and Compuserve. You can access Usenet lists by choosing the NEWSGROUP or USENET FAQs options in the Web search engine provided with Netscape.

also try visiting some sites like the Center for Democracy and Technology, Freedom Magazine, the Censorship and Intellectual Freedom page, or just search for key words like democracy, freedom, or the recent communications bill passed by Congress.

Mar 12 -- A discussion of proposals:

Assignment 5:

Storyboards for your proposal. Bring enough copies for everyone in class.


Jump to classmates' proposed home pages or return to Reiff home page