The very thought of a website devoted to Sherman’s March may inspire mild dread. After all, the path of destruction that General William Tecumseh Sherman and the Union Army blazed across Georgia during the final weeks of 1864 was one of the most violent episodes in American history.
But by some unwritten law of the Internet, historical trauma nearly always returns as digital kitsch. One braces for a cross between a Wikipedia entry and a bunch of Gone with the Wind mash-ups on YouTube, a screen that fills with animated flames and speakers emitting the sound of a melancholy harmonica.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. And a collaboration between two UMBC faculty members is exploring the potential of a movement known as the “digital humanities” – wherein digital tools are used to explore history and other subjects in all their depth and complexity.