Deep Dive

Picture of Hongwei Xu's lecture

U-M Professor Hongwei Xu's Deep Dive lecture

Last year, the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies (LRCCS) and the Asia Library began co-sponsorship of a new series of guest lectures and workshops under the title Deep Dive into Digital and Data Methods in Chinese Studies. Co-directed by Professor Mary Gallagher (Department of Political Science and Director of LRCCS) and Liangyu Fu (Chinese Studies Librarian, Asia Library), the series has already brought in four fascinating scholars, each of whom presented cutting edge work. Yes, the events are over, but we are taking this post as an opportunity to provide you with links to their slides and other material.

Professor Hilde de Weerdt of Leiden University kicked off the series with a presentation on MARKUS, the digital platform that she and her team have created for analyzing social and political history. We kept her quite busy: in addition to her presentation, Professor de Weerdt led both a workshop on MARKUS and a roundtable discussion on digital scholarship, and she also gave a lecture at LRCCS.

Although we used the term “guest lectures” above, we don’t shrink from bringing in U-M talent who are doing exciting work in the area of digital Chinese studies. Our first local talent was Professor Hongwei Xu from the Institute for Social Research. In addition to giving a lecture on database construction for population-based social research, Professor Xu conducted a workshop on selecting the right tools for data gathering and analysis, including State, R, ArcGIS and GeoDa. 

In February we welcomed in Dr. Donald Sturgeon, the author and administrator of Ctext, the world’s largest online repository of premodern Chinese texts. Dr. Sturgeon, currently a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, gave a lecture on that project and conducted a workshop that truly was a deep dive into Ctext. On the second day of his visit he chaired a roundtable discussion on the optical character recognition (OCR) of early Chinese documents, including the use of crowdsourcing to correct OCR.

For the final Deep Dive of this academic year, we looked in our own backyard once again and found Glenn Tiffert, who was completing a two-year term as a postdoctoral fellow at the LRCCS. Dr. Tiffert presented on his groundbreaking research, which uses text mining to uncover patterns of censorship in Chinese academic journal databases. His deeper dive took the form of a hands-on session in which he demonstrated the process he had used to generate his data and led participants through the processes of cleaning up scanned pages, doing OCR, and segmenting the text.

What’s next for the Deep Dive series? Watch this space, and we will let you know.