Digital Research Tools for Pre-modern Chinese Texts

Interactive workshop 9:00am-12:00pm, November 18, 2017, held in B129, Northwest Building, 52 Oxford St., Cambridge, MA 02138
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Digital methods offer increasingly powerful tools to aid in the study and analysis of historical written works, both through exploratory techniques in which previously unnoticed trends and relationships are highlighted, as well as through computer-assisted assembly of data to refute or confirm particular hypotheses. Applying such techniques in practice often requires first overcoming technical challenges – in particular access to machine-readable editions of the desired texts, as well as to tools capable of performing such analyses.

This hands-on practical workshop introduces approaches intended to reduce the technical barriers to experimenting with these techniques and evaluating their utility for particular scholarly uses. The first part of this workshop introduces the Chinese Text Project, which has grown to become the largest full-text digital library of pre-modern Chinese. While on the one hand the website offers a simple means to access commonly used functions such as full-text search for a wide range of pre-modern Chinese sources, at the same time it also provides more sophisticated mechanisms allowing for more open-ended use of its contents, as well as the ability to contribute directly to the digitization of entirely new materials.

The second part of the workshop introduces tools for performing digital textual analysis of Chinese-language materials, which may be obtained from the Chinese Text Project or elsewhere. These include identification of text reuse within and between written materials, sophisticated pattern search using regular expressions, and visualization of the results of these and other types of analysis.

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