Assignment 3:
Browsing through Hyper-History—“The Dramas of Haymarket”
“Anarchism does not mean bloodshed; does not mean robbery, arson, etc.  These monstrosities are, on the contrary, the characteristic features of capitalism.  Anarchism means peace and tranquility to all.”
    —August Spies
Having spent some time analyzing the claims of two expert historians and then testing those claims against the body of evidence found in the digital archives, today we turn our attention to another type of historical narrative, the hypertext history.

1) Go to The Dramas of Haymarket site, and orient yourself to how this hypertext historical narrative fashions the story of the Haymarket Affair.  Carl Smith, a professor of history at Northwestern University, created “The Dramas of Haymarket” from the same digital archives we’ve been browsing at the Chicago Historical Society.

Before the advent of the Internet, historians held almost exclusive access to the records and artifacts that composed the narratives they told.  Extant relics of the past were safely hoarded by the Special Collections departments of libraries and museums, and the average graduate student—without travel grants or the proper credentials to get their hands on such collections—had rather limited access to the material of history (undergraduates, in most cases, would have no access at all).  The narrative format of the traditional historian, then, could pick and choose through which artifacts to present and thus weave a plausible interpretation of events.  But, more than just being able to filter history in this way, the traditional ink-on-paper historian restrained the reader to an altogether linear, if not necessarily chronological, narrative storyline.  As you read either Suskind or Wischmann, the tendency is to move sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph in the way the author has constructed the narrative.

As you click through Smith’s Dramas of Haymarket, be attentive to the differences that the hypertext history creates in relation to traditional print sources.  In other words, this time test the historian's medium.

The digital archives now available over the Internet change how the historian tells the tale, but not only in making the historical artifacts themselves more available to the public.  The historian may now interweave story and relic together, combine interpretation alongside artifact, in such a manner that the reader can verify the claims drawn from a particular object or event.  No longer are we, the readers of history, locked into the linear progression of ink-on-paper.  The cadence of the word has been replaced by the finger-tap of the mouse click.  Through uncountable hyperlinks, the historian’s narrative sprawls out into a maze of relevant and periphery materials, a type of “garden of forked paths,” that intertwine, double back, or press onward.

Pay attention to both the historical artifacts and the narrative Smith creates to tell the Haymarket Affair: you’ll note, importantly, that it’s organized like a five-act play, from prologue to epilogue.  Unlike the “raw” artifacts in the American Memory and Chicago Historical Society archives, The Dramas of Haymarket documents have titles and accompanying stories explaining them.

2) Focus on three historical artifacts (texts and images) that The Dramas of Haymarket presents within its narrative.  You might even be able to locate several of the artifacts we examined on our own during Assignment 2, either those you found or those of your classmates.

Then, go to Blackboard’s Discussion Board entry 3 and report back on how The Dramas of Haymarket constructed a context in which to present these artifacts, opposed to our independent discovery of similar artifacts.  Your goal here should be to not only consider the artifacts themselves, but also how the site places them within a particular narrative framework.

For the three artifacts, consider the following questions:

Please identify the specific locations of the selected items by collection and description or by direct URL link so that others may easily view them.

3) Read other artifact reports in your group as time permits, but reply thoughtfully to the report of at least one other person in your group (if at all possible, reply to a person you haven't replied to before and who hasn't received a reply).  And consider an addendum to your artifact report as a result of reading others.

“Anarchy means no domination or authority of one man over another . . .”
    —Louis Lingg