Innovation funds awarded to support humanities projects

Written by
Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research
Feb. 24, 2015

New ideas in the humanities

Sarah Chihaya, assistant professor of English, Joshua Kotin, assistant professor of English, and Kinohi Nishikawa, assistant professor of English and the Center for African American Studies, will bring together scholars and writers from across literary and cultural studies at a conference titled "The Contemporary: Literature in the Twenty-First Century." The conference will explore how to define the current literary period and the concept of "contemporaneity" itself. Much debate exists over when the present period began — was it the end of World War II, the end of the Cold War, the start of the millennium, or Sept. 11, 2001? The project aims to create a dialogue that involves recent literary texts, such as novels, poems and comics, in the context of recent developments in culture, politics, science, technology and education. The conference is intended to spark the development of a scholarly network representing a range of disciplines and theoretical approaches, and establish Princeton as a leading institution in contemporary literature.

For the second humanities project, Martin Kern, Princeton's Greg ('84) and Joanna (P13) Zeluck Professor in Asian Studies, will make Princeton the new home of an essential resource for the study of classical Chinese, the Thesaurus Linguae Sericae (TLS). Developed by Professor Christoph Harbsmeier at the University of Oslo and currently housed in Heidelberg, Germany, the TLS contains more than 180,000 pages of Chinese text and English translations. With additional support from the Department of East Asian Studies and the Program in East Asian Studies, the project includes building a new online interface with an open-source format, making the Princeton-housed thesaurus a powerful research tool for scholars around the globe. The TLS eventually will be integrated with Princeton's WordNet database to connect the vocabulary and grammar of classical Chinese with modern Chinese, English and the many other languages already in the database. In addition to its scholarly uses, the thesaurus will serve as a tool to train graduate students in skills needed for work in the growing area of digital humanities.