Just what is Smarthistory?

Beth in the Abbey of Fontenay

When we founded Smarthistory we focused on the needs of our students and the potential of the web for learning and dissemination—we never asked ourselves “what are we?,” “what should Smarthistory be like?” Perhaps as a result, we don’t often turn up on lists of open textbooks, or digital museum resources, or digital humanities (or digital art history)—despite the fact that we are all of these things. But here’s the important thing—because students find us useful, Smarthistory resources often turn up at or near the top of the page in a Google search for just about any widely-taught work of art. Google the search term “art history” and see for yourself.

what is smarthistory graphi

So, here’s our attempt to describe Smarthistory:
We’re like a textbook, but we’re open and free
We do digital humanities, but our emphasis is on pedagogy
We’re like a textbook, but we integrate multimedia
We do digital humanities, but we are art historians
We’re an academic project, but with a broad focus
We’re like a textbook, but authors write in their own voice, like an anthology
We’re for students, but instructors and travelers use us
We highlight museum collection objects, but we’re trans-institutional
We’re on the web, but our content is distributed across numerous sites
We’re based in New York, but our audience is global
We used to teach 200 students, but now we reach millions

Maybe we just made things more complicated…

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