Monthly Archives: October 2018

China Seminar 31 October: Paul Vierthaler

Dr. Paul Vierthaler, Leiden University

Experiments in tracing the origin of quotes through late imperial Chinese corpora

In this talk, Paul Vierthaler will present his current attempts to develop machine learning algorithms that accurately predict the source text for quotes found in late imperial Chinese documents. It is possible, even easy, to identify when two texts share information. It is often more difficult to assess which text is relying on which (or if there is a third, unknown text involved). Paul is in the process of developing a method that will aid scholars in evaluating the directionality of such intertextuality and will present the current state of this work at the China seminar.
Paul Vierthaler is a University Lecturer of the Digital Humanities at Leiden University. In his current monograph project, he analyzes how historical events are represented in “quasi-histories” written in late imperial China. In this work, he studies how information transforms in genre- and time-dependent ways across thousands of semi- to un-trustworthy texts. In order to facilitate rapid and rigorous research, Paul is interested in developing and adapting computational methods to analyze and visualize large natural language corpora. Additionally, as a continuation of past work on quantitative bibliographic analysis, Paul is developing an extensible and mineable bibliographic database on public domain Chinese texts. Paul has held postdoctoral fellowships at Boston College and Harvard University and in 2014 was awarded a Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Literatures from Yale University.

31 October 2018, 15.15-17.00
WIJKPL 2-006, Leiden University

17 October China Seminar: Peter Lorge

China Seminar:

Journey to the West: Gunpowder’s Odyssey from China to Europe and Back

Peter Lorge (Vanderbilt University)

17 October, 15:15-17:00, VRIESHOF 1-006 (Leiden University, Witte Singel)

Gunpowder was one of the most consequential inventions to emerge from China.  While an earlier generation of scholars sought to prove the Chinese origin of gunpowder, the transmission of gunpowder across Eurasia has seldom received much attention.  The history of how gunpowder and gun technology traveled west across Eurasia in the late 13th and early 14thcenturies, and then returned east in the 16thcentury tells us a lot about the global medieval world and the roots of the modern world.  Perhaps just as critically, tracking the movement of gunpowder technology across Eurasia provides a better picture of the development of gunpowder technology in China, explains why it stagnated in the 14thcentury, and highlights the differences between the invention, production, and effects of technology on societies.

Peter Lorge is Associate Professor of Pre-Modern Chinese and military history at Vanderbilt University.  He is the author of four books, most recently The Reunification of China: Peace Through War Under the Song Dynasty (Cambridge 2015).  He is currently working on a book detailing the cultural use of Sunzi’s Art of War in the West. (