Your micro-history should have two parts: the first part is descriptive, and the second part is analytical.
All micro-histories should begin with a brief (~1 page) description of the following elements (the questions provided are merely to get you going; you needn’t respond to all of them):
Your own experience with the communication technology artifact. Where did you locate it (in a museum, in an online exhibit, on a vacation to Egypt, on your daily commute)? Did you physically interact with it (if so, what was that experience like)?
All you can tell us about the origins of the artifact. Where it was produced, and by whom (to the best of current knowledge)? How was it made (using what materials and techniques)? Is it a copy of a text (one of many), or is it a unique artifact (the only of its kind)?
The relationship between the technology artifact and its culture of origin. What were the artifact’s original functions and uses? How did this type of communication technology benefit its users?
Once you have described your communication technology, provide an analysis that helps us understand this form of communication in a little more context. You can take one of two approaches in this analysis: a genealogical approach or a historiographic approach. This analysis should be ~2 pages in length.
If you choose to adopt a genealogical approach, you will need to trace your chosen technology’s “family tree,” making note of its “ancestry” or its “descendants.” A good example of a genealogical analysis is Miller and Shephard’s analysis of the blog as a genre – Blogging as Social Action: A Genre Analysis of the Weblog (UMN Conservancy). (Links to an external site.) In their analysis, Miller and Shephard discuss the blog’s relationship to other forms of communication, such as the log book, the diary, and the commonplace book. If you adopt this approach, you will need to make a well-supported argument that your chosen artifact descended from or gave birth to another method of communication (for instance, you could make the argument that graffiti is a descendent of cave paintings).
If you choose to adopt a historiographic approach, you will need to examine how historians have studied your chosen artifact or others like it. A good example of a more historiographic analysis is the article about the discovery of the Sulawesi cave paintings – A Journey to the Oldest Cave Paintings in the World (Smithsonian Magazine). (Links to an external site.) The author writes that art historians have sometimes used European cave paintings as evidence of the advanced cultural development of the early humans that inhabited these areas. If you adopt a historiographic approach, you will need to answer questions like: How has this method of communication been written about by other researchers? What arguments have artifacts of this kind been used to support different cultures and time periods in human history? How have the historical records of these artifacts affected the way we understand the cultures from which they originated?
Whichever approach you choose to adopt in the analytical section of your micro-history, you will need to consult sources to support your argument. If you choose a genealogical approach, you will need to consult research on your chosen technology as well as other technologies you think belong in its “family tree.” If you choose a historiographic approach, you will need to analyze the written histories of your chosen technology. You should cite at least three sources in your micro-history.
Select the Assignment 1 Topics section to continue.
Linotype typesetting machines
Film/moving pictures (e.g., commercial films, home movies, documentary films/local films)