American Studies and the New Technologies:
New Paradigms for Teaching and Learning
Alan B. Howard
February 17, 2003
- Introduction:Technologies as Arguments: cast iron store fronts
- Four not-so-randomly chosen case studies at UVA
- The Valley of
the Shadow: history vs. History and Multi-relational histories
- Layer 1 might be a
concise sequential narrative of the subject.
- Layer 2 would be a
sequence of focused narratives, each from a different angle of inquiry:
economic history, social relations, religious history, popular culture,
military history, etc.
- Layer 3 might be an
historiography of the subject.
- Layer 4 could contain
a series of micro-macro comparisons of each of the two communities to
the regions to which they belonged, or to other regions, or to regions
of other nations that experienced major civil conflict.
- Layer 5 could focus on
pedagogical uses of the site.
- Layer 6 would contain
reader's responses, editors' comments, etc.
Narratives vs. Maps, the Visualization of Social Processes
- Common Attributes:
- aggregative, synthesysing and virtualized;
- question based and open ended;
- persistent, long term;
- organic rather than mechanical;
- technology as a lens rather than a pipeline;
- above all, collaborative, virtual structures built and extended by real communities.
Learning Communities vs. Communities for Learning:
Process is our Most Important Product
- the Yellow Pages, a selective,
annotated guide to Internet resources in American Studies;
- the Museum for American Studies,
a virtual exhibition space;
- Hypertexts, a
collection of digitized texts hypertexts relevant to the study of
- Cultural Maps, a series of
projects in the visualization of historical processes;
- the Capitol Project, which
looks at the construction and management of the Capitol building as a
national icon; and
- the 1930s, focused on
American culture in the Great Depression, perhaps the most fully
developed site of the lot.
- In addition, we
publish Cultural Objects, an
electronic journal for american studies at Virginia which now
runs to eight issues.
- Expanding markets, reducing per-unit costs vs. increasing the scale and complexity of understanding;.
- Virtual communities manufacturing virtual learning vs. actual communities actually learning;
- Recuperative uses of technology vs. transformative use of the technology.
- American Studies as a nationalistic project vs. American Studies in an international context.