Organizer and Chair: Margaret J. Pearson, Skidmore College
Discussants: Christoph Harbsmeier, University of Oslo; Thomas Hahn, Heidelberg University; Ching-chun Hsieh , Academia Sinica, Taiwan; Feng-ju Lo, Yuan-Ze Institute of Technology, Taiwan; Yeen-mei Wu, University of Washington, Seattle; Margaret J. Pearson, Skidmore College
Are the recently created fulltext databases of the twenty-five Chinese dynastic histories changing the nature of sinological research? Or are these simply massive, costly concordances?
How does the nature of classical Chinese affect computer searches? What does the dissonance say about our cultures and times? What issues are most effectively studied with these tools? What methods of data retrieval and storage are most useful? Which topics seem most intractable? Which strategies seem most likely to break through these difficulties? Is a different kind of knowledge of wen-yen needed? A different attitude towards quantification?
These are some of the issues to be discussed with critical candor by this international group of scholars: the creator of the first and largest such database, the creator of similar fulltext databases, researchers in history and literature who have used them for several years, and the Chinese librarian who has instructed most users of the system in the United States.
From these varied perspectives, we will exchange experiences and the newest information, gathered in Asia, Europe, and America Our goals are: to find more effective ways of using the databases, and to introduce other scholars to these rich resources. Our unifying focus is the twenty-five dynastic histories database of Academia Sinica, which all members of the roundtable have used, though our conclusions should apply to similar computer databases of the thirteen classics, Buddhist and Taoist scriptures, and other voluminous works.