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East Asia 554 Seminar on East Asian Print Culture and Society: Women in Print

Course guide for Spring 2016 Seminar on East Asian Print Culture and Society: Women in Print.

Digital Humanities

Approaches that utilize computational analysis and/or digital (digitized) data are now gaining traction in the study of book history and print culture (and in the humanities field in general). Projects that employ those computer-assisted methods are often called digital humanities (DH), although the term is loosely defined, and the boundary of DH is always debated. (But then, what humanities terms are not open to multiple interpretations and debates?)

While there are many methods and technologies involved, the following two are often used to digitally explore print culture and book history: text analysis and spacial humanities.


  • Text analysis: A popular approach in this area is the one that uses codes, programs and statistical models to analyze large (very large) corpora of texts. Common methods include text mining (for word frequency, etc.) and topic modeling. This approach is often called "distant reading" (a play on "close reading"). 



You may also want to check WU's own Humanities Digital Workshop and their projects for more examples and inspirations. 

Digital Humanities Asia @ Stanford University: Residency program and DH initiative at Stanford University.

Digital Humanities jp (DHjp), a Japanese series on DH issues (in Japanese) is available electronically through Maruzen eBook Library. (WUSTL ID required for remote access). 

Converting Text to Data

While large corpora of digitized and OCRed (and sometimes already marked up) texts are readily available for Western languages (and to some extent for simplified, "modern" Chinese), converting original text to machine-readable full-text data has been a challenge for the study of East Asian books, particularly classical ones. The following are select examples of projects and software designed to aid the process. 



  • The Ten Thousand Rooms project (Yale University; Chinese): A transcription helper tool in development based on open source Mirador Viewer
  • Smart-GS: A desktop transcription tool, being developed in Japan.
  • An article about the challenge of fine tuning OCR for Japanese kuzushiji/hentaigana (in Japanese). 


Text mark up 

  • MARKUS: An automatic text mark up tool for Chinese texts. Can automatically pick up personal names, place names, etc. from the text.


Teach yourself to read