A MITH Digital Dialogue
Tuesday, April 13th, 12:30-1:45
MITH Conference Room, McKeldin Library B0135

“Doing History in Public: Digital History in the Digital Humanities”
By Sharon Leon

What is the place of digital historians in the larger field of digital humanities? Are digital historians simply public historians working in a new environment? Recently, digital humanists have struggled to find a definition of the field that is sufficiently broad to encompass the goals and methodologies of practitioners from a variety of fields including literary studies, geography, archeology, media studies, classics, and history. Given these disciplinary differences, practitioners approach data and digital tools with different kinds of inquiry questions. Digital historians can draw on the thirty year tradition of public history, which emphasizes collaboration and public engagement. At the same time, they have access to the work of cognitive scientists, who have developed an increasingly sophisticated understanding of the way that people learn history. In combination, these influences yield a version of digital work—“Doing history in public”—that places inquiry questions front and center. This talk will explore the implications of scientific work and the ways that it can clarify the place of digital history within the larger landscape of the digital humanities.

Sharon M. Leon is Director of Public Projects and Research Assistant Professor. Her research interests include the history of religion in the U.S., especially Roman Catholicism, history of science, and twentieth century cultural history. She received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and her doctorate in American Studies at the University of Minnesota in 2004. Her book manuscript on US Catholics and the Eugenics Movement is forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, and her work has appeared in Church History and the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. At CHNM, Leon has worked on World History Matters (worldhistorymatters.org), ECHO (echo.gmu.edu), and the Teaching American History Grants (chnm.gmu.edu/tah/). She directs the Center’s work on Historical Thinking Matters (historicalthinkingmatters.org), The Object of History (objectofhistory.org), the Bracero History Archive (braceroarchive.org), and Martha Washington: A Life (marthawashington.us). Finally, Leon co-directs Omeka (omeka.org) and the National History Education Clearinghouse (teachinghistory.org).

Coming up @ MITH April 20th: Mirona Magearu (Comparative Literature), “Performance in Digital Poetry: Technique, Spectacle, and Representation of Cultural Intersections.

View MITH’s complete Fall Speakers Schedule here:


All talks free and open to the public!

Contact: Neil Fraistat, Director, MITH (www.mith.umd.edu, mith@umd.edu, 5-8927).