Peter K. Bol (包弼德) is the Charles H. Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations. His research is centered on the history of China’s cultural elites at the national and local levels from the 7th to the 17th century. He is the author of “This Culture of Ours”: Intellectual Transitions in T’ang and Sung China, Neo-Confucianism in History, and Localizing Learning, coauthor of Sung Dynasty Uses of the I-ching, co-editor of Ways with Words, and various journal articles in Chinese, Japanese, and English. He led Harvard’s university-wide effort to establish support for geospatial analysis in teaching and research; in 2005 he was named the first director of the Center for Geographic Analysis.
As Vice Provost (2013/09-2018/10) he was responsible for HarvardX, the Harvard Initiative in Learning and Teaching, and research that connects online and residential learning. He also directs the China Historical Geographic Information Systems project, a collaboration between Harvard and Fudan University in Shanghai to create a GIS for 2000 years of Chinese history. In a collaboration between Harvard, Academia Sinica, and Peking University he directs the China Biographical Database project, an online relational database currently of 470,000 historical figures that is being expanded to include all biographical data in China’s historical record over the last 2000 years. Together with William Kirby he teaches ChinaX (SW12x) course, a HarvardX course with a global enrollment of over 45,000. Bol received his Ph.D. in Chinese history from Princeton in 1980.
Research Interests: history of China’s cultural elites during the Tang, Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties; digital humanities; China Biographical Database project; Center for Geographic Analysis; China Historical Geographic Information Systems project
- Smith, Kidder, Bol, Peter K., Adler, Joseph A. and Wyatt, Don J.. Sung Dynasty Uses of the I Ching. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014.
- Bol, Peter K. Neo-Confucianism in History. 1st ed. Vol. 307. Harvard University Asia Center, 2008.
- Bol PK. “This Culture of Ours” — Intellectual Transitions in T’ang and Sung China. Stanford: Stanford University Press; 1992.
- Bol, Peter Kees. Localizing Learning: The Literati Enterprise in Wuzhou, 1100-1600. Harvard University Asia Center, 2022.
Recent Articles and Publications
- Peter K. Bol (General Editor). China Biographical Database 中國歷代傳記資料庫. In Press.Abstract
- Bol PK, Ge Jianxiong 葛剑雄. China historical GIS [electronic resource] = Zhongguo li shi di li xin xi xi tongChina historical GIS [electronic resource] = 中国历史地理信息系统. In Press :1 CD-ROM. Publisher’s VersionAbstract
- Bol PK. The Humanities and the Digital Humanities in Higher Education. Journal of Digital Archives and Digital Humanities. Forthcoming.
- Bol PK. The Way of the Barbarians: Redrawing Ethnic Boundaries in Tang and Song China By Shao-yun Yang. Journal of Chinese History. 2021;5 (1) :163-66.
- Bol PK. “用技術與算法探索人文學科中的問題” “Using technology and algorithms to investigate questions in the humanities,” . 中國社會科學報. 2021;12 (21) :6.
- Bol PK. From Kinship to Collegiality: Changing Literati Networks, 1100 – 1400. Journal of Historical Network Research. 2021;(5) :36-61.Abstract
- Bol PK ed. China Biographical Database version CBDB_20210225_bd. 2021. Publisher’s Version
- Bol PK. Review of Dingxin Zhao: The Confucian-Legalist State: A New Theory of Chinese History. American Historical Review. 2017;122 (2) :499-500. Publisher’s Version
- Turchin P, Bol PK, et al. Quantitative Historical Analyses Uncover a Single Dimension of Complexity that Structures Global Variation in Human Social Organization. PNAS. 2017. Publisher’s Version
- Bol PK. Why do intellectuals matter to Chinese politics?. In: The China questions: critical insights into a rising power. Cambridge: Harvard University Press ; 2017.
- Bol) (PK包弼德. 探寻地图中的主张: 以1136年的<禹迹圖> (Exploring the Propositions in Maps: The Case of the Traces of Yu Map of 1136). 历史地理 (Historical Geography). 2017;(34) :253-262.
- Deng K, Bol PK, Li KJ, Liu J. On the unsupervised analysis of domain-specific Chinese texts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2016. Publisher’s Version
- Bol PK. The Historical Atlas in a Digital Age. Conference on the Making of Historical Atlas. 2016 :13-28.
- Bol PK. Preface. In: Placing Names: Enriching and Integrating Gazetteers. Indiana University Press ; 2016.
- Hongsu W, Hang TL, Bol PK. A Cyberinfrastructure for Historical China Studies. 7th International Congress of Digital Archives and Digital Humanities. 2016.
- Bol PK. Mapping China’s History. Verge. 2016;2 (2) :70-82.
- Bol PK. Reconceptualizing the Order of Things in Northern and Southern Sung. In: Cambridge History of China. Vol. 5.2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press ; 2015.
- Bol PK. Reconceptualizing the Order of Things in Northern and Southern Song China. 2014. Publisher’s Version
- Bol PK. 王安石與《周禮》. 歷史文獻研究. 2014;33 :65-78.
- Bol PK. Review of BENJAMIN A. ELMAN. Civil Examinations and Meritocracy in Late Imperial China. . The American Historical Review. 2014;119 (5) :1670-1671. Publisher’s Version
- Bol PK. On Shao Yong’s Method for Observing Things. Monumenta Serica . 2013;61 :287-299.
- Bol PK. On the Cyberinfrastructure for GIS-Enabled Historiography. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 2013;103 (5) :1087-1092. on_the_cyberinfrastructure_for_gis-enabled_historiography.pdf
- Bol PK. What is a Geographic Perspective on China’s History?. In: Chinese History in Geographical Perspective. Lantham: Lexington Books ; 2013. pp. 197-204.
- Bol PK. Wealth, Power and a Confucius for Today. 2012. Publisher’s Version
- 包弼德 PBK. 宋明理学与地方社会：一个12至16世纪间的个案. In: 当代西方汉学研究集萃:思想文化史卷 . Shanghai: 上海古籍出版社 ; 2012. pp. 39-88.
- Bol PK. Review of Ancestral Leaves: A Family Journey through Chinese History. By Joseph W. Esherick . Journal of Interdisciplinary History. 2012;707-710.
- Bol PK. The intellectual persuasion in the twenty-first century: a conversation with Peter K. Bol. The Chinese Historical Review . 2012;12 :150-161.
- Bol PK. On an infrastructure for historical spatial analysis. Perspectives on History . 2012;50 (7).
- Bol PK. Spatializing History Notes & Slides for GIScience 2012 Keynote, in GIScience 2012. Columbus, OH ; 2012. bol_giscience2012_-spatializing_history_notes.doc bol_giscience2012_keyonte-spatializing_history.ppt
- Guan WW, Bol PK. Embracing Geographic Analysis Beyond Geography – Harvard’s Center for Geographic Analysis Enters its 5th Year. International Journal of Applied Geospatial Research . 2012;3 (1) :63-71.
- Guan WW, Bol PK, Lewis BG, Bertrand M, Berman ML, Blossom JC. WorldMap – A Geospatial Framework for Collaborative Research. Annals of GIS . 2012;18 (2) :121–134.
- Bol PK. GIS, Prosopography, and History. Annals of GIS . 2012;18 (1) :3-15.
- Laptop U, The New Yorker, 2013
- Video Lecture: The Role of Intellectuals in China’s History, an Interview with Wang Hui, Fairbank Center and ChinaX, 2017
- Making a MOOC, Harvard Magazine, 2017
- Harvard boosts on-campus reuse of online course content, Harvard Gazette, 2017
- HarvardX rolls out new adaptive learning feature in online course, Edscoop, 2017