The most commonly-used Western visualization database and software in the study of Chinese culture and history include ArcGIS, QGIS, CHGIS, CartoDB, Worldmap, CBDB, GEPHI, etc, among which ArcGIS and QGIS are cartographical systems working for the analysis of spatial and geographic information. The high cost of the ArcGIS system prohibits its widespread use in China. On the contrary, QGIS is an open-source system suitable for the researchers of culture and history all over the world. CartoDB is a cloud-computing database, a GIS platform that provides geographical information for display in a web browser. Chaired by Professor Peter K.Bol of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilization in Harvard University, CHGIS (China Historical Geographical Information System) and CBDB (China Biographical Database) are two database projects directly related to the study of Chinese culture and history. Working in collaboration with Fudan University, CHGIS has established a database of populated places and historical administrative units in pre-modern China. In the form of a digitalized database of places and administrative units, any sort of geographically specific data related to China can be easily displayed at CHGIS. Working closely with the History Department of Peking University and ″Academia Sinica″ in Taiwan, CBDB is currently the largest database with biographical information about historical figures in China. It not only displays data on individuals, but also provides data on kin relations, social association, official career, as well as ranks and positions a person held, etc. Launched by the Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard University, Worldmap is an online platform for visualizing and sharing spatial data around the globe. GEPHI is an interactive visualization and exploration software for all kinds of networks, complex systems, and dynamic and hierarchical graphs. Researchers of culture and history can use this platform to explore an individual’s social network, represented by innumerous nodes and edges in the graph visualization. Taking advantage of the software and database above, one can have access to the geographical references in graph data. For example, locations of a writer’s life activities, social network, as well as different types of social associations, all of which can be seen in a visualized spatial distribution and refreshes user’s experience. Taking Tang Xianzu as an example, this essay demonstrates how the itinerary, social network and social association of this great dramatist of Ming Dynasty are illustrated in graph visualization. The approach of visualization in literary study would need support not only from the database but also from suitable software. The study of pre-modern Chinese literature requires data on personal names, place names, objects, vessels, clothing, animals, plants, etc., all of which can be visualized by the visualization software and database mentioned above. However, how to take advantage of the software and database in the study of pre-modern Chinese literature should be further explored. We also hope software developers in China and elsewhere develop more visualization software suitable for the researchers in this field in the future.
徐永明. 中国古典文学研究的几种可视化途径——以汤显祖研究为例[J]. 浙江大学学报(人文社会科学版), 2018, 4(2): 164-174.
Xu Yongming. Some Visualization Approaches to the Study of Classical Chinese Literature: A Case Study on Tang Xianzu. JOURNAL OF ZHEJIANG UNIVERSITY, 2018, 4(2): 164-174.