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Digital History - Book Review Fall Series Recap

Digital History - Book Review Fall Series Recap

During the fall semester of 2013, the HASTAC Digital History Group presented the first part of its yearlong book review series. The goal of the series is to provide reviews of academic books that address the study of history and the digital humanities. Some of the questions that we asked reviewers to think about were: In what ways have these new publications innovated in the field? How do they relate to other historical works? And, what do they reveal about the use of digital methods to study history?

Between October and December, five reviews were posted. Each of the authors, graduate students and Ph.Ds, provided summaries and in-depth analysis on texts that cover the study and teaching of history in the digital age, multi-media, and African American history. The books reviewed with links to the reviews are listed below, as well as links to all off our reviewer's HASTAC pages. A special thank you to all of our fall semester reviewers for their hard work and commitment to making this first part of the series a success!

To the HASTAC community, please join us in spreading the word about these reviews. Forward them to your friends and colleagues, and add any comments and questions to the pages linked below. For more information about the second-part of the book review series this spring, click here. If you’re interested in getting involved with the series, please comment below or send a HASTAC message to Ben and Tina.  


Toni Weller, Ed. History in the Digital Age (New York: Routeledge, 2013)

“In short, this book offers an excellent overview of the main challenges and the yet unforeseeable potentials for our trade as we historians transition from the analog past to a digitized past that holds copies of everything in the former. It also has the potential to relate and analyze aspects of this past. The task ahead is to decide now and forge a path that defines how we get there.” – Ece Turnator, Harvard PhD and Postdoctoral Fellow at UT Austin


Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (New York: NYU Press, 2008)

“With Convergence, Jenkins invites readers to broaden our understanding of participatory culture and interrogate what it means when seemingly disparate sectors, networks, and industries merge to produce different kinds of stories and alternative ways of telling these stories. This book teaches that we not only exist in an age of informed citizenry, but we are also monitorial citizens; those with the capacity to assess, critique, and evaluate the plethora of information thrown at us on a daily basis.” Tara Conley, PhD Candidate at Columbia and founder of Media Make Change


Franco Moretti and Alberto Piazza, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History (New York: Verso, 2005)

“According to Moretti, what matters is looking at the literary field as a complex system in order to determine patterns, emergences, and cycles at various levels beyond the overvalued text…With the continuous development of applications, Graphs, Maps, Trees, is a groundbreaking book that opens up fascinating ways to discuss humanities and the ways humanists conduct research. It is a pioneering attempt in North American academia to question the role of our approaches to literature and culture at large.” – Eduard Arriaga, Assistant Professor at Western University (Ontario)


Adam Banks, Digital Griots: African American Rhetoric in a Multimedia Age (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2011)

“Adam Banks uses the digital griot as a conceptual metaphor for ‘multimedia writing skills’ in the context of African American literacies, such as the practices that are taking place in the digital spaces…There is the undeniable fact that black cultural artifacts are being made and preserved in digital spaces...This is an easy paced read that explores cultural rhetorical practices and how they have influenced, learning, writing and knowledge exchange.” Jennifer Fisch-Ferguson, PhD Student at Michigan State


T. Mills Kelly, Teaching History in the Digital Age (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013)

“Kelly’s approach creates an easy-to-follow manual for instructors curious about bringing in digital devices and elements to their classroom but reluctant to make the leap for one reason or another… In the end, Teaching History in the Digital Age does what all good scholarship is meant to do: it sparks conversation and advances new approaches to history.” Kevin Wisniewski, PhD Candidate at University of Maryland Baltimore County


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