What do we write about in the Digital Humanities? A comparative study of Chinese and English publications

Much progress has been made recently in understanding and developing Digital Humanities (DH) as an increasingly global wissensraum or ‘knowledge space’ that transcends geographical boundaries. Yet, much of the substantial DH research that has been ongoing in mainland China since the 1990s is unknown in this knowledge space. This is evidenced by the website of the Association of Digital Humanities Organisations (ADHO) which records no link with China and the centerNet map, where the mainland China area lies empty. This paper seeks to highlight this disconnect, reveal the contours of the rapidly growing DH community in mainland China through an analysis of Chinese- and English-language academic publication titles.

What commonalities and divergencies can be detected in the literature of the Chinese- and English-speaking communities from a comparative study of the titles of their articles? This paper constructs English and Chinese title word co-occurrence networks based on 3,247 English-language DH articles (from Chum, LLC/DSH, DHQ 1966-2017) and 1,698 Chinese-language DH articles (from Google Scholar 1964-2018). It calculates the frequency matrix of each two words appearing in the same title (co-occurrence), translates the title words into English and Chinese, visualises the bilingual networks with average year, and explores the intellectual structures and histories of the two networks.

Figure 1: English title word co-occurrence network



Figure 2: Chinese title word co-occurrence network




Results indicate that English-language articles have a longer history of addressing technical and theoretical topics; are based more frequently on computational linguistic studies of multiple languages; and address diverse topics. Chinese-language DH articles show a less diverse range of topics and place more emphasis on tools, libraries, and (more recently) the development of teaching. The methodology and results will be examined and presented more closely in the final paper.