Professor Joe Dennis is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Germany. His research there is focused on the history of Chinese school libraries and legal education. To conduct his research, Dennis makes use of LoGaRT, a set of online digital tools for investigating a historical resource known as the Chinese Local Gazetteers. Gazetteers are geographical dictionaries or directories used in conjunction with a map or atlas that describe the geographical makeup, social statistics, and physical features of a region. About 8,000 Chinese local gazetteers dating from the tenth to the nineteenth century are still extant, covering almost all well-populated regions of historical China. The authors of local gazetteers were officials and local gentry who delineated the landscape, flora and fauna, local products, temples and schools, officials and celebrities, and local culture and customs of a region.
Using this online resource, Professor Dennis works at the intersection of history and Big Data, “where digitization is transforming an entire academic field.” In a new podcast episode from the Max Planck Institute, Dennis discusses open-access, the differences between doing research pre- and post-digitization, and why gazetteers are so amazing!
Listen here: Max Planck Institute for the History of Science