BIOGRAPHY

Allison K. Lange is an assistant professor of history at the Wentworth Institute of Technology. She received her PhD in history from Brandeis University and studies the long nineteenth century with an interest in gender, power, and visual culture in the United States. Various institutions have supported her work, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Library of Congress, and American Antiquarian Society. Lange has presented her work at conferences such as the American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, and Berkshire Conference of Women Historians. Her writing has appeared in Imprint and The Atlantic. Lange recently published book reviews in The Public Historian and Journal of the Early Republic. She also consults and works as a guest curator with the National Women’s History Museum, Massachusetts Historical Society, and Boston Public Library’s Leventhal Map Center. Lange is currently completing a manuscript on the ways that woman’s rights activists and their opponents used images to define gender and power during the US woman suffrage movement.

ABSTRACT

"Teaching Visual Culture with Digital Timelines"

Digital tools and the ongoing digitization of visual archives make it possible for students to engage with historical images in new ways. This panel, intended to be a teaching session, will introduce a free online tool: Timeline JS (https://timeline.knightlab.com/). After an introduction to the platform, I will share one of my assignments and work with participants to create a timeline of their own. I aim for participants to leave the meeting with the confidence to incorporate digital exercises like this one in their own classes. Ideally, attendees would bring their laptops to this session.

Timeline JS is an online program that facilitates the creation of timelines with graphics and texts. My class on the history of visual culture and politics in the United States makes timelines to track image technologies and thematic trends over time. For my assignment, students add examples of woodcuts, lithographs, chromolithographs, cartes de visite, halftones, and other types of pictures. Students select images of their choice for each category.

Students of visual culture need to understand the ways that visual mediums and themes have changed over time. This project gives students experience in finding primary source images online. The research process gives them a better grasp of the variety of historical images that circulated in the US during specific time periods. They also become familiar with the nature of each visual technology and see the ways popular image types developed. My assignment, additionally, requires students to include important historical events to help them situate the images they select within a broader historical context.

Students could print, cut, and paste images onto a paper timeline to achieve similar goals, but Timeline JS makes the project an easy task for any classroom. Most importantly, students enjoy the project. Even my students at the Wentworth Institute of Technology express anxieties about using digital tools. Low-skill assignments like this one encourage students to have the confidence to tackle challenging research projects later in the semester.

After assisting attendees of the session with their own timelines, I will open up the floor for discussion of other available digital tools and their usefulness in the classroom. My presentation would pair well with others that focused on digital teaching tools.