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Can Computation Change the Study of Chinese Culture and History?
May 8, 2017 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Speaker: Richard Jean So, University of Chicago
The emergence of large corpora of digitized cultural and historical texts and new methods in text mining and analysis have made possible a new form of computational analysis for the humanities and China Studies. The question and challenge is whether these new methods and “data” will enrich our study of Chinese culture and history or simply “tell us what we already know.” In this talk, I utilize a large corpus of Republican-era Chinese cultural and political journals and methods in Natural Language Processing to demonstrate that indeed, computation can not only reframe and challenge existing scholarship in China Studies, but produce radically new interpretations and arguments, as well as entire new conceptual frameworks for the study of modern China. I specifically develop a case study focused on the evolution and transformation of the era’s cultural discourse in relation to other significant discourses, such as politics and media.