Local + Digital + Public + Geographic/Spatial + Indigenous History
The geographer, Edward Soja, once accused historians of writing history as if it took place “on the head of a pin.” Similarly, the Lakota philosopher Vine Deloria observed - in contrast to American Indians - Westerners struggle transitioning from “thinking in terms of time to thinking in terms of space.”
With these critiques in mind, this course will explore two related questions: how can spatial and place-based thinking benefit historical scholarship? More specifically, how can we combine fieldwork, archival research, and quantitative and qualitative digital analysis to help us recover hidden aspects of local history?
Placing History will provide students with the unique opportunity to explore the way a place's history is both inscribed in and concealed by the local landscape. In this course, students will have the opportunity to:
- Search through and examine historical documents from the Rauner Special Collections Library, some of which date from the 1700 and 1800s. Note: with Covid protocols, remote students will work with the Rauner's online collections and on-campus students will have the option to research at the library in person or online
- Learn the basics of digital mapping and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) software. In developing these new skills, students will learn how to map historical data over geographic models of the local landscape. We will also experiment with qualitative and affective mapping techniques (see the Participatory Mapping section below).
explore local historical sites or monuments near you (whether you are on-campus or live far away), examining whose histories are recorded and whose histories are not.
For the final project, students will produce an exhibit integrating cartography, data visualizations, photos, or textual components to tell a previously uncovered local history. Students will share these exhibits digitally on the course webpage (and, only if conditions allow, at a public showing involving poster / exhibit displays and presentations).
Some local histories you may research include:
- Abenaki historical geography: what places around the Upper Valley meant for Abenaki communities
- Dartmouth's origins as a school for Native Americans and its early failures to live up to that promise
- the College's ties to slavery
- the region's ties to the American Revolution and the Civil War
- an African-American community that moved into Hanover in the 1780s
- environmental changes around Hanover: from deforestation to reforestation
- the rise and fall of the area's mill towns
- Dartmouth during the Civil Right's era and the subsequent integration of women on campus
- many more...