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Digital Humanities Workshop Unveils New Project On Early Chinese Novel

The 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”.

Research Focus

Spearheaded by Prof. Jin Huan from the Division of Humanities, this initiative seeks to delve into 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 (白話文) during its nascent phase.

Illustration from Sanbao taijian xi yang ji tongsu yanyi (新刻全像三寶太監西洋記通俗演義插圖)

Originating in the late sixteenth century, “Zheng He’s Voyages to the Western Sea” chronicles the expeditions of the historical figure Zheng He (1371?–1433?) to distant lands. It stands as a seminal vernacular Chinese novel, intertwining supernatural and imaginary elements (shenmo xiaoshuo 神魔小說). While previous scholars have explored its historical context and narrative structure, this project takes a fresh approach by examining its linguistic and rhetorical style, particularly when juxtaposed with other early vernacular novels.

Seed Funding and Student Involvement

This project has secured seed grant funding from the DH Workshop for the fall semester of 2023. 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.

We invite students to join this exciting endeavour through UROP by accessing the project details and application. We are proud to have undergraduate students from Computer Engineering and Data Science already on board, and we welcome more students to participate. Apply here!

Students will benefit from specialized mentoring by DH Specialist Dr. 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 endeavours, a plethora of DH projects can be found at here.