Digital Humanities Workshop Unveils New Project on Early Chinese Novel

30 Aug 2023Announcement

DH (Digital Humanities) Workshop is excited to announce a new project titled “Rhetorical Formula and Linguistic Style in Early Chinese Novel – A Study of Zheng He’s Voyages to the Western Sea“. Spearheaded by Prof. JIN Huan from the Division of Humanities, this initiative seeks to employ digital humanities techniques, such as text mining and GIS mapping, to explore the intricacies of the early Chinese novel, “Zheng He’s Voyages to the Western Sea” (Sanbao taijian xi yang ji 三寶太監西洋記, 1597). Additionally, Prof. Jin proposes a vectorization study of the novel’s earliest edition illustrations to glean insights into the stylistic evolution of Chinese vernacular literature during its nascent phase.


Originating in the late sixteenth century, “Zheng He’s Voyages to the Western Sea” stands as a seminal vernacular Chinese novel, weaving a narrative rich in supernatural and imaginary elements (shenmo xiaoshuo 神魔小說). It chronicles the expeditions of the historical figure Zheng He (1371?–1433?) to distant lands. While scholars have previously explored its relationship with historical records and narrative structure, this project aims to shed light on its unique linguistic and rhetorical style, especially when juxtaposed with other early vernacular novels.

We’re thrilled to share that this project has secured seed grant funding from the DH Workshop for the fall semester of 2023. More details on the grant can be found here. This funding will facilitate the recruitment and training of UG and MA students, allowing them to contribute to this groundbreaking project under the DH Workshop’s guidance. Students will benefit from specialized mentoring by DH Specialist Qiuzi Guo and Assistant Manager (DH) Holly Chan, ensuring their contributions align with the project’s objectives and their academic backgrounds.

Additionally, we’re pleased to mention that the project of the workshop is supported by the library’s Digital Scholarship Working Group. For those interested in exploring more digital humanities endeavors, a plethora of DH projects can be found at this site.

We’re proud to have two UG students from Computer Engineering and Data Science onboard. We invite more students to join this endeavor through UROP: Project Details & Application.