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New Funds for Resources on Chinese Periodicals

Jun 05, 2012

The project "Early Chinese Periodicals Online (ECPO) - Creating a Prototype for an Intelligent Archive" has been awarded 3.000.000 Taiwan-Dollar (about 80.000 Euro). As a result, it will be possible to merge databases on Chinese periodicals developed by the Academia Sinica and by the Cluster. The ECPO project has been initiated by Cluster member Prof. Dr. Barbara Mittler in cooperation with Dr. Yu Chien-ming from the Academia Sinica.

The primary goal of the ECPO project is to develop an interdisciplinary approach to the early twentieth-century Chinese periodical press. Focusing on heretofore undervalued but rich materials – women’s and entertainment magazines – the project will bring together a team of junior and senior scholars from different fields, in order to provide new insights into modern Chinese history and culture, and into the periodical press as a medium.

Integral to the project is the creation of a prototype for a comprehensive and intelligent archive (Early Chinese Periodicals Online, ECPO) that will facilitate the research. Indeed, what we propose - the systematic examination of shifting linguistic, literary, visual, and social registers embodied in the early 20th century Chinese periodical press - would be virtually impossible without the use of such a sophisticated archive. Accessible through an online frontend (webpage), it will encourage greater engagement in this field by making journals dispersed in libraries world-wide more available and intellectually more accessible. The archive will build on materials digitized at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Modern History and Heidelberg’s Institute of Chinese Studies (some 175 women’s magazines and 57 entertainment magazines, xiaobao) and combine them in a new framework with two existing databases constructed by the Digital Humanities Division (Heidelberg Research Architecture, HRA) of Heidelberg's Cluster of Exellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context": the digital resource "Chinese Women’s Magazines" and the digital resource "Chinese Entertainment Newspapers".

The database "Chinese Women’s Magazines" offers unique access to four Chinese women's magazines from the first half of the 20th century: Nüzi shijie (女子世界, Women’s World, 1904-7), Funü shibao (婦女時報, The Women’s Eastern Times, 1911-17), Funü zazhi (婦女雜誌, The Ladies’ Journal, 1915-31), and Linglong (玲瓏, Elegance, 1931-37). The database records comprehensive data (in English as well as in Chinese) on the contents of these magazines including titles and authors of articles, captions on photographs, and advertisement headings, together with metadata crucial to research on these materials including keywords, genres, and biographical information. It is the first effort to systematically trace authors, editors, and featured individuals appearing in more than one magazine. The database "Chinese Women's Magazines" is developed by Prof. Dr. Barbara Mittler as part of the Heidelberg Research Architecture and is also linked to a collaborative project funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the German Humboldt Foundation.

The database "Chinese Entertainment Newspapers" focuses on a special type of newspaper known as the xiaobao or entertainment newspaper. The papers first appeared in China in the 1890s and soon became one of the most popular media for the daily publication of entertainment news, serialized fiction, short stories, social and political commentary, and cartoon drawing. While little studied, its impact on the formation of popular culture and of urban lifestyle for the first half of the 20th century has been all-pervasive. The database is designed to present information about the particular profile of a given entertainment paper, and to highlight the kinds of information that might be found there. The database "Chinese Entertainment Newspapers" is developed by Prof. Dr. Catherine Vance Yeh as part of the Heidelberg Research Architecture.

The envisaged ECPO archive is distinguished from all other existing databases on Chinese periodicals in that it not only provides page scans, but high-resolution images, and, most importantly, a sophisticated body of metadata in both English and Chinese, including keywords and biographical information on editors, authors and persons represented in illustrations and advertisements. It also preserves materials often excluded in microfilm editions, such as advertising inserts. The envisaged intelligent archive will permit scholars to test different approaches to studying early 20th century media. Framing the journals within a sophisticated body of metadata, it will open new horizons on twentieth-century Chinese history and media studies more generally.

More information on "Chinese Entertainment Newspapers"
Access the database "Chinese Entertainment Newspapers" (Login required)  

More information on "Chinese Women’s Magazines"
Access the database "Chinese Women’s Magazines"

List of research projects by Prof. Barbara Mittler
Visit the HRA Portal for further digital resources


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