Developing digital historians in Italy

Favero, Claudia (2014). Developing digital historians in Italy. EdD thesis The Open University.



This study concerns the experiences of Italian digital historians and their implications for historical scholarship. The present and future of the profession of historian, in academia and outside it, are inextricably linked to the digital revolution that is pervading society. How historians face the challenges and take advantage of the affordances of technology will have a strong impact on teaching and researching history in the future. However, the voice of digital historians on these issues does not emerge systematically from the literature.
This research uses grounded theory methodology to delineate a theory of being a digital historian in Italy, a country with a rich historiographical tradition and widespread interest in history, but a weak connection with technology in scholarly endeavours. Based on in-depth interviews with digital historians, the analysis presented here highlights their initiatives, evaluations and strategies, in relation to all aspects of scholarship but particularly the education of future historians. This research is motivated and informed by my professional experience as lecturer in digital methodologies for historical research.
The emerging theory revolves around the concept of developing digital history: Italian digital historians are pioneers, animated by passion and desire to innovate but working in a challenging, largely unsupportive environment where their initiatives have not translated well into educational provision for future digital historians or, more generally, to provide students with tools and methodology for historiography in the digital age. Through an illuminative comparison with interviews conducted with digital historians in the United Kingdom, differences and similarities are analysed, with a view to creating a general theory of being a digital historian and its implications for the future of scholarship in history.

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