Hello everyone! I’m excited to be joining you this semester in History 694: Digital Public History. My name is Renee Romano and I am a professional historian. I work at Oberlin College where I teach classes about 20th and 21st century US history, histories of race and racism, and historical memory. You can learn more about my research or teaching here if you are interested.
I decided to pursue a certificate in Digital Public Humanities this year for several reasons. Before last semester when I took the introductory course in Digital Humanities, I had almost no background in the field. I few years ago I stumbled through an Omeka project with my students and I quickly realized that I needed to know more if I wanted to use Digital Humanities tools and platforms in my teaching. I have no background in computing and my technical skills are limited to say the least. So for me, diving into this field has been a way to push myself to learn new skills and to try to embrace the possibilities that DH opens up for me as a researcher, a teacher, and a scholar who has participated in a variety of public history projects.
I was drawn to the Digital Humanities certificate program at George Mason because of its emphasis on public history and pubic humanities. Over the course of my career, I have become more passionate about public history. While I love teaching college students, I have come to recognize what a small slice of the public they represent. As someone who teaches about histories of race and racism, I believe there need to be many more opportunities for the general public to engage with inclusive, critical, and compelling histories. I have had the opportunity to consult with museums, to direct public history projects at Oberlin, and to offer online classes for the general public in my local community. I’m excited about digital public history because it offers a way to reach a wider audience and a means to collaborate on developing historical knowledge and narratives with the public. I am currently also completing a certificate in Museum Studies through Northwestern University and one of my goals is to gain enough DH knowledge that I can help local museums incorporate more digital humanities into their exhibits and programs.
This semester, I hope to learn about different tools available to do digital public humanities, to become more proficient in using those tools, and to gain the knowledge I need to develop my own undergraduate level classes on public history and digital humanities at Oberlin. I’m also eager to continue developing my own perspective on what makes for a good digital humanities project, and how DH allows us ways to think differently or more holistically about teaching and communicating history.