Final Project - Using Data Visualization to make a Historical Argument

Jeremy M. Mikecz


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For this final project you will prepare a data visualization with a complementary paper that addresses a particular historical question or problem. This data visualization and paper will fall somewhere on the spectrum between a) advancing and communicating a particular historical argument (see Cairo’s definition of infographics) or b) presenting data in a way that the reader may explore the data, identify patterns, and draw their own conclusions (Cairo’s data visualization definition). Given what we have learned in class and the time you have, your project will most likely lie more on the communicate rather than exploratory side. Regardless, your visualization should tell a story. It may be one, straightforward historical story (infographic side) or it may tell multiple historical stories while

You are also expected to write a paper with citations. This paper can either be incorporated into the data visualization or it may be a stand alone paper. Either way, this paper should 1) address your historical problem, 2) explain why creating this visualization helps you answer your problem / question, 3) explain and justify your visualization decisions and inspirations, and 4) summarize the results of your analysis.

Projects will be scored out of 100 points. Students can attain these points in the following manner:

Part 1: Proposal and Preliminary Sketch (due March 25)

Write a one-page paper describing: + your historical question + the type of sources you will use to answer your question + the type and style of your visualization and include a sketch of how you expect your visualization to look (you can use ‘fake data’ at this point)

Part 2: New Tool Presentation (due April 1)

Research a digital history tool or technique you would like to know more about. Present to your classmates: + a demo of the tool, how it is used, and what it does + how other scholars have used the tool/technique and what they have learned + the value this tool/technique can offer to digital scholarship + what you were able to accomplish with this tool (in a hour or two, don’t try to master it at this point)

Part 3: Annotated Bibliography + Visualization Inspirations (due April 15)

Write a short paper with the following sections: + an annotated bibliography citing at least 3 scholarly books or articles + at least one set of primary sources (whether quantitative datasets or qualitative historical texts); for each source write a short paragraph summarizing the source and how you will use it + a brief description (1/2 page) of data visualizations that you will model your visualization on

Optional Part 4: Submit partial draft by April 29

For instructor feedback, submit a partial draft of paper and visualization by the end of April 29

Final Project (due May 6, see above)

Submit final project by 11:59:59pm on May 6