Navigating the Dos and Don’ts of Dating: A 1970-1989 Timeline

The 1970s to the 1980s was a period of much social change in American history. The rise of social tensions in the 1960s developed over concerning and controversial issues of women’s rights, authority, and human sexuality to name a few. This was identified as the Counterculture of the 1960s. The Second-wave of feminism also began in the 1960s and lasted roughly to the 1980s, significantly impacting gender roles in social practices and expectations. Thus exploration of any shifts in dating culture between the 1970s and the 1980s would highlight the changing norms and values of American society at this time, something the current historical scholarship is lacking.

What would further enhance exploration of dating culture changes during this period would be presenting it as a digital timeline. Change over time has a significant impact on many historical topics, but laying it out in an interactive setting, helps viewers better relate the changes happening to the time they are occurring. Moreover, a visual display of detailed research is often easier to take in as it includes images, links and a creative organization unique to a digital timeline. That being said, I propose using Knight Lab’s TimelineJS. This tool allows me to organize my research along a timeline, demonstrating change over time. I want to explore how dating advice changed from 1970 to 1989. While this is a short period of time, only two decades, I plan on going into detail about the different themes and messages presented to young girls that I see presented in various publications. For example some of my research questions are: Is there a shift from more traditional dating advice to a more feminist perspective? If so, when does that shift happen? Are there any significant shifts in gender roles? Is there more than one shift? Do these shifts occur at the same time or follow one after the other?

My chosen sources would be dating advice literature and various newspaper articles from 1970-1989. I would present books from multiple points in that period, ideally the beginning, middle and end chunks to explore any significant changes in thought, poplar topics and messages. I would explore the rituals and expectations of heterosexual relationships and what these findings suggest about accepted gender roles in dating situations.

After some preliminary research, some dating advice literature I would analyze would be:

  • Our Bodies, Ourselves; A Book By and For Women, Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (1973)
  • Sex Etiquette : Should I?, Can I?, May I?, Must I? : The Modern Woman’s Guide to Mating Manners, Hamel, Marilyn (1984)
  • The Teen Dating Guide, Stewart, Marjabelle Young (1984)
  • Charm; The Career Girl’s Guide to Business & Personal Success, Whitcomb, Helen and Rosalind Lang (1971)
  • “Men Play the Waiting Game in the Dating Game,” Berman, Laura (1989)

These books and article already give me a wide range of dating culture from the early 1970s, mid 1980s and late 1980s.

I would read through all the dating advice literature and newspaper articles I can find, while keeping track of various themes and changes to advice about specific dos and don’ts in dating. I would input the publication dates of each source into the digital timeline, including a quick summary and image of the source to provide a visual for viewers. After summarizes the general content, I would dive into the specific topics and advice presented in each source, ideally pointing out the same topics discussed in different sources with potentially different advice. I will also link to sources online if they can be found there. Potentially, I would also include links to various online articles about dating during the 1970s and 1980s.

Prior to diving into the primary sources, I would designate the first timeline entry to previous scholarship on the topic to give some background and reason for my focus on literature and newspaper articles. Some secondary sources I would include are:

  • From Front Porch to Back Seat : Courtship in Twentieth-Century America, Bailey, Beth L
  • Sex in the Heartland, Bailey, Beth L
  •  “Sex and the Me Decade: Sex and Dating Advice Literature of the 1970s,” Ward, Anna E
  • “Interpersonal Relationships in Women’s Magazines: Dating and Relating in the 1970s and 1980s,” Prusank, Diane T., Robert L. Duran, and Dena A. DeLillo
  •  “From Moutain Peak to Total Woman: An Evolutionary History of Pre-Feminist Dating Advice,” King, Andrew

Overall, developing a digital timeline to explore dating culture changes over time creates an interactive, visually stimulating learning environment to the benefit of the topic and learners. A journal article or book doesn’t allow for the reader to click through a timeline that clearly highlights the year with the source that demonstrates the dating norms and expectations in that moment. Moreover, a source visual image is rarely incorporated into writing pieces, but can easily and effectively be included alongside a summary and content analysis of that source in a digital timeline. In another sense, this digital timeline could be a virtual exhibit for a museum or even a presentation for classroom purposes. The possibilities are endless and must be explored.  

Podcasts: The New Textbooks

(A Print Project Proposal)

We are all here because we love history but as students we take for granted the extensive reading and course material available to us. We only have this kind of access because we attend a university. Most of the population is not as lucky as we are. How do they learn about history or any academic related topics for that matter, outside of the preliminary studies covered in high school? Well one increasingly popular medium for sharing history with the public is through podcasts. In recent years, podcast popularity has increased and expanded its topics and audiences. In the realm of history, podcast creators speak on a variety of subjects providing different interpretations and conversational themes depending on the podcast you listen to. Plus podcasts are free and anyone with Internet access and a smart device can listen to them on the go or some are even covered on the radio. This kind of wide reaching audio entertainment is easy and thus the most appealing way to take in information. I propose a print project that analyzes the topics covered and the formats they are delivered in from a range of American History podcasts. What stories are being told and what formats are being used? History podcasts cover a broad range of topics and at first glance American History is popular and one ideal to use as a case study to explore this research question.

As for the different stories being told, I’m curious whose perspective American history is being told from. Are women, Native Americans, and African Americans stories covered? How often? Are podcast’s also covering how American History is being discussed today, for example as a study of Atlantic or Continental History? Are American History podcasts in conversation with other historical topics or academic fields? Most importantly what do all these answers tell us about the field of American history? Knowing if podcasts are discussing women in the American Revolution and broadening their coverage of that angle, tells us a lot about the development of American history as a field and about shifts in what the public perceives as important to discuss.

In regards to the later, what formats are used: interview, solo/monologue, conversational/co-hosted, a panel, etc. What do these formats offer the audience that wouldn’t be as available before podcasting came around? In the case of the interview format (assuming the podcast interviews a historian), this provides the audience with a voice and discussion with a historian who shares their views and insight on a specific topic that they otherwise would never had heard speak. Another example is the co-hosting or conversational format, which allows two people to go back and forth discussing a topic and working through it out loud. If there’s a common question they hosts can assume the audience would have, one will prompt the other with that clarifying question and they will provide an answer. This creates a sort of auditory classroom on the go for listeners who want to learn about American history in a very informal and no stress environment.

My podcasts would be my primary tools for research. After some preliminary research, some podcasts (all by professional historians) I would analyze are:

These three have very high popularity ratings and cover a wide range of American history topics.

I would listen to their episodes to get an idea of the topics discussed, see if there are similarities between them and note the topics and formats utilized. I would narrow my episodes from their publication (2013, 2014, 2014) to today, selecting about three episodes from their first year live, then three episodes from about halfway in (til now) so three to four years in, then their last three episodes to explore the transformation over time as well as what and how they have provided the public with American History.

Some material my project could use:

Drew, C. Educational podcasts: A genre analysis. E-Learning and Digital Media14(4), (2017), 201–211. https://doi.org/10.1177/2042753017736177

Drew argues for the importance of podcast utilization as education by exploring three podcast genres or formats. They demonstrate the versatility of podcasts and how analysis of them could lead to development of new ideas supporting e-learning environments.

Serpikov, Alexandra, “Communicating History: Podcasts as Public History” (2018). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
https://scholarworks.rit.edu/theses/9810

Serpikov argues for podcasts viability and importance as a medium as well as highlighting the relationship between academic and public history, where they intersect and their evolving historical practices.

Overall, podcasts get more and more historical information out to a wider audience that wouldn’t learn nearly as much about history, American in this case, unless they were in graduate school or had access to extensive reading materials, usually only available through a university. Exploring discussion and deliverance of history through podcasts helps us, as historians understand their value as a unique digital resource. Podcasts are ever expanding and for many a primary medium for knowledge. More historians need to recognize this and take advantage of the wide reaching audience they could impact by contributing, starting or utilizing a podcast.

Omeka or WordPress?

Hello all!

This week we are learning how to use sites Omeka.net and WordPress.com. Both share similar attributes though each have their strengths that separate them, as you may have learned in the final reading for this week.

OMEKA

Without further ado let’s talk Omeka.net. This site is perfect if you are looking to build a digital exhibit or historical presentation. You basically get to build you own site! It’s customization abilities allow you to add a variety of items or documentation (artifacts) as Brown breaks it down for us in Communication Design. Let’s start! As shown below, you select Add Site (you only get one for the free plan).

Once you’ve made your site you can customize it with a choice of two themes if you pick the free plan. Go to Appearances in the menu running across the top right of the page. See below.

Then before you start building the content for your site, you need to install a few plugins. Plugins are basically add-on software that allows for more customization. For example you will go in and add the Exhibit and Simple Pages plugins which will allow you to build an exhibit on your site, and house the items and collections you build in a customized way. You will find the Plugins next to Appearances in the upper menu.

Now for the fun part! Let’s add some content. Select Item in the menu running down the left side of the screen. Then Add Item. From here you get to describe and detail what your item is including its title, subject, description, creator, source, publisher, date, contributor, and more. This information is also known as Dublin Core, which is the metadata element set used by Omeka records.

To save space I won’t include a picture of each step. But from here you also dictate the type of item it is, for example, a still image, hyperlink, email, etc. Then you add your file! Finally you add tags that you want attached to your file. Tags are part of the metadata behind that item, words to help classify, organize and relate items based on what they are about. For example I added a picture of the cover of a dating advice literature book and my chosen tags were, “dating,” “advice literature,” and “teenagers.” These tags will tie that image to these words and create a sort of index for all items that fall under certain tags. Remember consistency is key for organization, for example if you tag an item with the phrase “dating advice books” you need to use that across the board for other similar items and not change it to say “dating advice literature.”

From here you Add Item and then you can view Public Page and see your item on your website!

Now you can further organize your site but grouping items into collections. Select Collections on the menu running down the left of your screen. Add Collection and then you get to detail it like you did for the items, adding in the metadata. Once created, go back to the items and select the boxes to the left of the items you want included in this collection. Then click Edit and choose collection!

Amazing! Now let’s make that exhibit. First, yes you guessed it, select Exhibits, then New Exhibit. Now name it and add the slug, which is basically the part of the url that explains the page content ( or the title but without capitals or spaces). Then Add Page within your exhibit and name it, so in my case, “Advice Literature” and then you can select your chosen layout. From there you can add items and a text block describing those items if you like. And that is how you work with Omeka.net.

WORDPRESS

Let’s switch gears for a second and turn to WordPress.com. WordPress similarly allows you to build your own site. Though there are a handful of differences. For one, it is not as ideal as Omeka for building an exhibit to house items and collections of items. Instead there is a lot more room for customization when it comes to themes, organization, and building of content. It isn’t ideal for organizing metadata like Omeka.net. WordPress is most ideal for blogs because you can post and there is a place for other to reply or comment on your work. Thus this site allows for more interaction between creator and audience.

Let’s explore this by walking through how to use the site. First make an account and select the free payment plan. Similar to Omeka.net there are limitations to only using the free plan and not paying but it still works.

So signup and start your account! Then you get to select your theme, choosing from about 12 different themes. Decide on the name of your domain, which is the site address url (this is limited based on your plan though and suggestions are provided). Then you can select desired features as shown below and then your payment plan (free).

Now you can edit directly on the site and decide when to go public! By selecting My Site in the top left hand corner you are taken to the backend of your site where you will see a menu running down the left side of your screen.

As you can see there are many options to click. There’s Stats, which breaks down the activity on your site from traffic to posting. Then Pages, Posts, Media (images, videos, docs and audio), Comments (interact with your audience), Feedback, Jetpack (a spam filtering plugin that I selected at the beginning), and Design, which allows you to further customize and update your site whenever you like. You also can customize social media links, which will connect your site to an even wider audience through multiple internet mediums. Finally you can select Visit Site in the right hand corner and view what your site will look like as it comes together and before you make it live. Keep in mind once it goes live you still can edit and update it on the go.

Thank you all for your patience in reading through this lengthy post, but I figured including them both together would be best to show their pros and cons side by side. The possibilities with both these sites are extensive and filled with creative opportunity. Please follow up with any questions and I will do my best to answer them. Also feel free to explore the sites on your own too! Otherwise I will see you all next Wednesday!

Thank you!

Using Technology to Visualize the Past

Hello everyone! For this week I covered readings 3 (part 1, part 2) and 5. In “Space, Nation and the Triumph of Region: A New View of the World from Houston” as well as its accompanying website, “Mining and Mapping the Production of Space”, Cameron Blevins explores history in relation to space and place. He demonstrates the importance of accompanying digital work with traditional readings to gain context in a more in-depth analysis. Blevins examines how the Houston Daily Post newspaper created an “imagined geography” from 1894 to 1901. Newspapers privileged certain places over others in their publications, which Blevins argues actively rather than passively “reinforced the structural power of capital” (136). Though Blevins’ methods for exploring this topic are what I think is most fascinating and important for class discussion. Blevins utilizes “distant reading” as a method. It would take too long to read all the newspaper articles, he estimated three years to do so. So instead allowing a computer to pull out keywords, like the number of times a place is named in newspaper articles, the time it takes to make a general analysis of the “imagined geography” created by the Houston Daily Post can be achieved under a shorter amount of time. This provides a better visualization, which is key for spatial history analysis. Though this paper reminds us in its conclusion that such a preliminary analysis rarely tells the whole story and it needs to be accompanied with “close reading” of traditional texts in order to get a better understanding of the context. For example what was discovered was that even though the preliminary search suggested that there was a national scale oriented towards New York and the Midwest as well as the dominant regional scale of Texas and its immediate orbit, this did not reflect most populous cities as assumed at first glance. Rather with further textual analysis and close reading, Blevins discovered that this newspaper’s focus centered on commercial content like cattle, wheat flow, cotton and finance. Moreover, the Houston Daily Post revealed “an unexpected prominence of regional space” (137). This, Blevins discovered was due in part to shifts in American journalism around that time. Newspapers were becoming highly commercialized entities targeting a mass-market of readers. As a result, The Houston Daily Post appealed to its most reachable audience within the local region. Another point made by Blevins was that the railroad networks seem to mirror the most common places named in the newspaper. This is also misleading because after further examination through close reading, how often a place was named was related to the flow of goods and capital as mentioned above rather than railroad hubs or large populations. Blevins’s accompanying website offers interactive maps of his findings that allows readers to further explore his methods and the importance of critical analysis. Distant reading is great to see an overarching trend but in order to make a claim about that trend further analysis is required. As he summarizes his work he notes how we need historians to be aware of the need for close reading and text analysis more than ever with our constant use of the internet. The easily available and potentially misinterpreted “distant reading” that is abundantly on the web calls for critical approaches to history and the addition of close reading to get the whole story.

            This theme of textual analysis and distant reading is carried over into Cameron Blevins’s other article, “Topic Modeling Martha Ballard’s Diary”. Blevins presents the difficulty of reading and analyzing an extensive diary, similar to the extensive newspaper articles. Through the use of MALLET, a computer software that attempts to find words that frequently appeared together in texts and group them together within clusters. This is called text mining or classifying words from text based on assumed sentiment, intent and topic. Moreover, topic modeling is a text mining tool used to pull out semantic structures from within a text. Blevins found that this program is actually very efficient at pulling out a handful of themes from this diary. Midwifery, church, death, gardening, shopping, and illness were the big themes that this program pulled out. Now how accurate is this? Well, Blevins tested it by examining some further close reading to determine if this overarching analysis was accurate. For example, the appearance of “gardening” and words that the program determined were used similarly or related to that word did follow the pattern of Maine’s seasonal cycles, which is where Ballard lived. Furthermore, the mention of housework increased over the course of Ballard’s life which correlated with changes in her history that are known like her children moving out as well as increased financial troubles which would definitely cause her to spend an increasing amount of time doing housework. Blevins further demonstrates the benefits of distant reading that MALLET can provide but it needs to be accompanied with close reading to get the better visualization of whole story. As usual context is everything. There are so many possibilities with topic modeling. Using it across languages or on social media and blog posts were particularly interesting questions and hopeful suggestions made by commenters. Rather than hesitation and suspicion though, Blevins tries to show that the possibilities are truly endless and these computer programs have opened up an entirely new world for history. But it’s important to remember that just because we have these programs doesn’t mean we can discard close readings but instead that they are key in supporting the evidence that these programs provide us.

            As practicing historians do you consider Blevins approach beneficial or ideal in the face of constantly advancing technology? We have no way of knowing how perfected these computer programs, or others, may become, but do you recognize the value in the method of combining close reading alongside distant reading?

Thanks everyone keep up the good work!

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Hello Everyone, I’m Claire!

I am a first year General History MA student and under the advisement of Dr. Gautham Rao. I’m 23 years old and just moved from California to DC for this program at American University. I received my Bachelors Degree majoring in History with a minor in French from San Diego State University in 2020. Over the years I have studied a wide variety of historical topics ranging from Ancient History to significant 20th century events like the Great Depression, the World Wars and the Cold War. That being said I haven’t had much of an opportunity yet to pinpoint my exact interests, as they constantly seem in flux as I take new courses. A common theme throughout, though, is social history, from family and marital relations to education and general social climate of various time periods. What I love most about history is being able to imagine being in a different time and everything that comes with that. It’s like reading a book and being transported to another world. That being said I love to read and watch period pieces from all sorts of time frames. The shows Outlander, Reign and The Crown are three of my favorites.

In regards to digital history, I think that I am most fascinated with how these digital tools aren’t only helpful for digitizing resources for better public access but that the process of creating a visual presentation of research can be a wonderful way to engage students and those hoping to learn something. Reading paper after paper can get boring very quickly but having a visual presentation, map or timeline can really deepen a learner’s understanding of the historical topic. The visual aspect gives a three-dimensional scope that is not as easily achieved, if at all, on paper.

I am hoping to learn a wide variety of history while in this grad program, while also fine-tuning my resource collecting skills. I also hope to make more friends who share my love for history. From this course specifically, I hope to broaden my experience with various digital tools that I could apply to future history projects and research. The digital and visual aspect adds a new element to history that appeals to the newer generations. I think digital history has the ability to make learning history fun! Not to say that it isn’t already fun, but I think we all can agree that those that aren’t interested in history dislike it because they think it’s boring or just about a lot of dead people and that can be true. But digital tools open history up to a world of creativity that could benefit learners and teachers. Applying history to modern technologies and exercises grabs the interest of the STEM students or the drama students who enjoy employing their own creative spin on things. I believe I want to be a history teacher and I would love to apply the digital history tool of research in a classroom with students who would appreciate that creativity.

Looking forward to getting to know you all!