Introduction, Noah Thomas

Hello! I’m a junior transfer student, this is my first semester at MSU, which is quite confusing because this isn’t normal MSU, yet it’s the only MSU I know. I’m a History Major, though a large chunk of my interests lie in theory, which I feel are inextricably tied: any good social theory/abstraction is based in human experience (history), and any good history is backed by a well developed philosophical understanding of how to engage with history, how to think historically, etc. Ultimately I want to get into grad school and teach at the college level (aka Jen, if you have any pointers, please direct them this way!).

A week I’m very excited about is ‘Podcasting and Communication as Public History.’ One of my favorite books is Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities, in which one of the topics he explores is the influence of the development of Print Capitalism on the national consciousness of populations, a communication development which allowed for people to “think” the nation in a time before the concept of a nation-state (so ubiquitous in our time) was unthought of. This immediately made me very interested in considering our recent advances in communications. How does the internet, in its vertical-connecting manner, let us reimagine our political landscapes? A great deal of that verticality is the sharing of information. For all of our very prescient fears regarding the spread of false information today, podcasting is one of the most effective and substantive forms of sharing information in a manner much much much more accessible than difficult 700 page theory or historical texts. Hoping to be a future educator here, I’m always wondering new ways of conveying information in engaging ways, whether that be visual or audio media. The freedom of expression within these medias is so wide, and the continuing accessibility to it — though we should be wary of its negative consequences — I think is a great thing as far as education goes.

That being said, currently we are in a (forced) time of adapting this new technology to the classroom fully. There have been small attempts at integration here and there, and certainly online classes have been around for a while, but I think a full comprehensive reimagining of effective online learning is long overdue. My biggest anxiety coming into this class, and for my classes in general, is the online learning and its current frustrations and limitations. This does not feel like a proper substitute for in-person. In my other classes, I already see my grades suffering from things as little as the auto-grading function marking wrong any short response longer than a word. Looking through the website the professor has set up, though, has made me very hopeful for this class (good job on it, looks great!). A lot of my older teachers are struggling right now, to no fault of their own, but it’s showing in the class. A very unfortunate reality right now.

One thought on “Introduction, Noah Thomas

  1. Hi Noah, thank you for this deep and reflective post. I think you have touched on some really interesting points that I hope we will examine throughout the course of this semester! I am happy to have conversations about applying to grad school, what the experience is like, and the application materials you would need to prepare.

    I am also very interested in Benedict Anderson’s concept of Imagined Communities and I like the way you tied it into thinking about this course. The idea that something can collectively bring people together (positively or negatively) is a fascinating force of history. Much of my research actually focuses on print media and thinking about newspapers as both a conveyor of information and a political institution (in Montana Territory, 1860s-ish).

    One of my sincerest goals in teaching this class is to not add stress to people’s already stressful lives. if students can take away a positive learning experience, that is a success to me. I completely agree that online learning is not a substitute for the classroom, and the way some instructors are managing grading/ assignments is unethical, to be honest. I think conversations like this are exactly what we need to bring to light in a digital history course, and I look forward to hearing more from you!

Leave a Reply