China and Inner Asia
This roundtable examines the projects and methods associated with Digital Humanities from a new angle: with an eye to the scholarly implications of how these innovations can be employed by scholars working in an only partially digitized context. We will host a conversation centered on five sets of observations about how individual scholars can reassess their own work flow to incorporate digital advances without neglecting the non-digital corpus. Janet Theiss will begin by using examples from her work as a Qing historian, discussing how the emergence of mixed methods for history, incorporating digital tools and sources into a still largely pre-digital source base, affects not only the process of research but habits of textual analysis and historiographical inquiry. This will lead into an open discussion of the new perspectives and potential losses within this hybrid approach. Drawing from his own work and various international digital initiatives, Ian Miller will then guide the participants into an exploration of the problems and possibilities of incorporating non-digital materials into projects specifically built around digital methods. A conversation among all will follow about basic problems of interoperability across digital and non-digital sources. Then, Rebecca Nedostup will use examples from her information-rich field of twentieth-century history to reflect on how digitization and digital methods can thwart as well as expand access to resources. The audience will be invited to consider how digitization projects scale up challenges for collection, control, and collaboration across various media, specializations, periods, and borders. Paul Vierthaler will follow by reflecting on current attempts in the digital humanities, within and outside of Chinese Studies, that attempt to bridge the divide between digital and non-digital materials and modes of analysis. In particular, he will focus on efforts to make DH an extension of non-digital research methods rather than a replacement for them. Finally, Maura Dykstra will describe the principles of Magpie, a program enabling scholars to modify their existing workflow to incorporate digital conventions and preservation methods to create and share data in modules that can be built into multi-author collaborative projects. This session bears implications for Qing Studies, China and Asian Studies, and the humanities and social sciences in general.