“The Shishuo xinyu as Data Visualization”

Chen JW, Borovsky Z, Kawano Y, Chen R. “The Shishuo xinyu as Data Visualization.” Early Medieval China. 2014;20:22–58.


The following essay takes a macro-perspective on the Shishuo xinyu, reading it not in terms of anecdotal narrative or characterological analysis, but through questions of information management and computer-based visualization. We discuss the history of data visualization and seek to demonstrate the interpretive power (and limitations) that such computational methodologies bring to the study of premodern texts. In particular, we are concerned with the use of geographical information systems (GIS) and social network analysis, as well as with how these tools help us to visualize the complex data contained within the text. In many ways, this essay is intended as an introduction to certain aspects of the emerging field of digital humanities, one that simultaneously seeks to show how these new methodologies work within the disciplinary contexts of premodern Chinese cultural studies.

Last updated on 03/09/2021