Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

History in the Digital Age

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

History in the Digital Age

Article excerpt

History in the Digital Age. Edited by Toni Weller. (New York: Routledge, 2013, Pp. 212. $38.95.)

The importance of the role of digital resources in academic life is highlighted by the recent emergence of the new discipline of digital humanities at many universities around the world. In this context, the collection of essays under review addresses pedagogical issues around the study and teaching of history in the digital age. Eschewing consideration of the practical dimension, the approach here centers on the conceptual and methodological dimension.

Clearly there are those who are champions of the digitization of historical records who recognize its benefits notably in respect of ease of access and preservation. On the other hand, there are traditionalists who have concerns around the absence of tactility, information excess, and the potential instability or transience of digital media, all of which may be coupled with a general aversion to technology per se. One goal of the book is to bridge the divide between both camps.

The four sections of the book are devoted to the reconceptualization, the study, and the teaching of history in the digital age, with a consideration of the future of history as the concluding part. Thus successive chapters address the impact of digitization on the practice of history as a discipline; an estimation of how digital resources challenge understandings of primary sources, historical practice, and general methodology; an assessment as to the role of digital technologies in the teaching arena and the extent to which their deployment leads to a re-conceptualization of history by students; and finally, an evaluation as to how digital resources have led to methodological challenges for the historical profession.

How historians think of the past is changing. The extent to which digitization of resources particularly and information technology generally influence such change is debatable. The need for historians to reflect conceptually on their practice-the explicit premise of this collectionmay, however, be less urgent than the need for them as a profession to embrace the potential for research that the availability of digitized resources now allows. …

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