Hi there! Welcome to HST 251. This is our space to post our weekly blogs using the prompts that are assigned on the “schedule” page. I am Prof. Jen Andrella, a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the history department. My areas of study include the nineteenth-century United States, Native American history, the American West, and digital history. I am currently writing a dissertation about the history of Montana Territory and the significance of Native American, settler, and government relations to better understand the period of post-Civil War Reconstruction (1865-1877). While most people tend to think about Reconstruction as happening only in the South, I am interested in how the West was very much a part of that national process!
This semester, I am most looking forward to the weeks on podcasting, digital art history, and text analysis. One thing that makes me nervous about this course is how it will work as an online class. I hope that you will find the readings and conversations engaging and critical. While there is a lot of content to work through, I want you to try your best and at the very least attempt the tools that we use. More often than not, these tools will be challenging and there will be lots of speed bumps in learning how to use them. I believe that productive failure is an important part of learning and as long as you try, you will be just fine. In fact, writing about your experience- the successes and the failures- is exactly what I expect in your weekly blog posts.
I think that teaching this course during a pandemic draws even more attention to the importance of digital methods and tools that we can use to learn history (or any subject). At the same time, the digital demands created by this pandemic reveal global problems like limited access to computers, the internet, or other technologies. Now more than ever, we live, work, and play in a digital age, but understanding the shortcomings and problems of “the digital” are just as important. Being open to learning new technologies and skills will expand your worldview as you take these lessons and apply them to other aspects of your schoolwork, career, or helping your community.
- Footnote 1