Computational Humanities

Computational Humanities Seminar Series

Recent years have seen a significant increase in the adoption of computational methods and tools in arts, humanities, and social sciences. As a classic but rapidly evolving field, humanities are now enthusiastically embracing the computational revolution by applying a wide range of mathematical, statistical, and digital techniques, such as computational modeling, data analysis, and network mapping, in their research and teaching. This has led to the discovery of new frontiers of primary sources, with data coming from diverse sources such as code repositories, listservs, tweets, and other social media content, redefining what it means to be a humanistic research object.

Code, algorithms, and programming have not only been reshaping humanistic practices but also sparked important debates about the nature of computational humanities (CH) as an emerging academic endeavor and its fundamental differences from other disciplines. Questions arise about what constitutes computational scholarship, what kind of humanistic knowledge can be produced through computation, who should practice computational analysis, and how to effectively engage with computational tools and programs.

This seminar series aims to demystify computational humanities by exploring its academic and pedagogical implications and bridging DKU with cutting-edge computational scholarship in humanities and its practitioners around the world. The events are designed to strengthen DKU’s interdisciplinarity and enhance scholarly connections across the disciplines of data science, quantitative analysis, and humanities. Importantly, these events seek to offer a refreshing perspective on what humanities are and what humanities can achieve. The goal is to empower students and faculty in arts and humanities and stimulate their innovative and audacious imaginations about careers and life.

By delving into these questions, this seminar series will reflect on the past of humanities while offering new perspectives on its future. Through engaging with computational tools and programs, humanists can unlock new ways of understanding human culture, history, and society. It will also open up exciting possibilities for scholarly inquiry and teaching innovation and contribute to the evolving interdisciplinary research and teaching at Duke Kunshan.

For current progress, see Computational Humanities Lab for more details.

Faculty Leaders:

Zhaojin Zeng is an Assistant Professor of History at Duke Kunshan University. Zeng specializes in the economic, business, and industrial history of modern China and the world, with a focus on factories and entrepreneurs. He is also interested in historical data analytics and digital business. His current book project, Engineering Modern China: Industrial Factories and the Transformation of the Chinese Economy in the Long Twentieth Century, is the first to analyze the remarkable rise of the Chinese factory economy from the late Qing to post-Mao eras. Zeng is also the founder of the CFP – Chinese Factory Project (, a digital humanities and data analytics initiative that collects and publicizes archival materials and quantitative datasets on China’s industrial development, technological change, and resource utilization. Zeng holds his Ph.D. in History from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.Phil. in Social Science from the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology. Before joining DKU, he was Visiting Assistant Professor of East Asian History at the University of Pittsburgh in 2018-2020.

Alice Xiang is Assistant Professor of World Literature at Duke Kunshan University. Broadly interested in the relationship between literary texts and the transnational imagination, she is currently working on a book about networks of solidarity and world literature between China and Turkey in the early twentieth century. She is also interested in exploring the implications of AI and computational approaches for thinking about issues of translation, interpretation, and cosmopolitanism. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University.

Jaehee Choi is a Lecturer in Public Policy at Duke Kunshan University. Her core research agenda centers on understanding how social policies can address income inequality; her research fields include income inequality, social insurance, and work and family policy. Recent projects examine the effectiveness of universal childcare on women’s employment; and the effect of exchange rate shocks on earnings inequality. She has a B.A. in Economics from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Texas at Austin.