McMullen Naval History Symposium Recap

Digital Humanities, Naval History
This weekend, I had the privilege of presenting a paper at the McMullen Naval History Symposium. It was my second time at the U.S. Naval Academy, and I have had a great time. Our Panel I organized a panel titled "Politics of the Sea in the Early Republic," in which the panelists looked at how the navy and maritime concerns influenced political discourse (and vice versa). Bill Leeman argued that Thomas Jefferson's approach to the navy in the Barbary Wars was more pragmatic than idealistic. The question of who could declare war--was it the president or the Congress?--was a live one in the early republic. What were the president's powers when a foreign country declared war first? These are the questions that Jefferson had to grapple with as he sent…
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Lessons from From Enemies to Allies: Changing Scale in American Naval History

Naval History
In the plenary session at From Enemies to Allies: An International Conference about the War of 1812 and Its Aftermath, several senior scholars addressed (among other things) the direction scholarship on the War of 1812 should go. One major theme that emerged was the need to study the War of 1812 in a global context. American historians of the war often treat it as if it were the only thing going on in the United States and in Britain between 1812 and 1815, when in fact it wasn't the only thing going on in either place. This interest in globalizing the study of the War of 1812 correlates with a session I attended at THATCamp about how changing the scale of your research can open up new lines of inquiry.…
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Digital History and Naval History: Ships in the Night

Digital Humanities, Naval History
  Ships that pass in the night and speak each other in passing; Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another, Only a look and a voice; then darkness again and a silence. ---Henry Wadworth Longfellow This month I attended two very different professional conferences. The first, THATCamp CHNM (aka THATCamp Prime), is so unlike normal conferences that it's billed as an "unconference."[1. If you want to know exactly what an unconference is, read the THATCamp About page.] It brings together people from a wide swath of academic disciplines to talk about digital humanities. Sessions ranged from talking about programming languages to teaching digital history to talking about size and scale in academic research. Many…
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The Message of the Historical Medium

Digital Humanities, Naval History
[This post was written for my graduate class, "Doing Digital Humanities," and originally posted on that course's blog.] Literary scholars and creative writers spend quite a bit of time thinking about the medium in which they work. Historians tend to think about such things less, since literary theory often doesn’t work well with historical inquiry. Serious historical scholarship is almost always created in a standard medium: the monograph. Reading Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium Is the Message” for class, I thought that a more careful examination of the historical medium might be in order. Traditional Medium for Traditional History The historical monograph has several salient features. First, it’s a fixed document. Once it’s published, it really can’t be changed. Second, it has clear structural organization (table of contents, preface, introduction, chapters…
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