Hello everyone! I’m excited to be part of the DH689 learning community this summer. My name is Renee Romano and I am a professor of history at Oberlin College in Ohio. I specialize in 20th and 21st century U.S. history with particular interests in race, historical memory, and public history. This year, I’ve been doing both the GM certificate program in digital humanities and a museum studies certificate program at Northwestern. I’m doing these certificates to learn new skills, to explore the many different tools for presenting and teaching history outside college classrooms, and to deepen my understanding of the challenge and opportunities of doing history with and for a broad public audience.
Thus far in the DH program I’ve done a Scalar project focused on one of my current research projects on the history of the commemoration of blackface performer Daniel Decatur Emmett and his most famous song, “Dixie,” in his hometown of Mount Vernon, Ohio (you can check it out here if you are interested). I have also worked with classmate Megan Mitchell to create an Omeka site that consolidates and makes searchable a wide variety of existing material related to Oberlin’s rich history (called the Oberlin Community History Hub). Along the way, I’ve learned a little html and css, although not nearly as much as I would like. I’m excited this semester to work on a digital project focused on teaching and would love to become more comfortable with other digital tools, and especially some of the mapping platforms. Since I often teach History Methods in my department, I am familiar with some of the literature on historical consciousness and history pedagogy, but I am looking forward to the opportunity to think more deeply about how digital tools can be used most effectively to teach historical thinking skills.
I plan to use what I learn in this course to design some digital teaching activities for either my first year seminar next year (on Disney) or for a 200-level class I teach on the United States in World War II. I also hope that by the end of this program, I will be comfortable enough with digital humanities to develop a course on the subject that can serve a new Public Humanities program at Oberlin.