Chinese Buddhist Historical Records in the Context of Digital Humanities


PhD students with a background in Chinese studies and/or in Chinese religions and/or in Digital Humanities. A good knowledge of pre-modern and modern Chinese language is expected from the students attending the classes requiring a sinological background. However, several hours are taught without the sinological background being needed. Lectures also suitable for a more general audience (including researchers in Digital Humanities, etc.)

Organising  & Scientific Committee

  • prof. Christoph Anderl - Faculty: Arts and Philosophy - Department: Languages and Cultures – East Asia - E-mail:

Other members of the organising & scientific committee:

  • prof. Ann Heirman (Languages and Cultures – East Asia)
  • Sally Chambers (Digital Humanities Research Coordinator at the Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities)


This Doctoral School’s specialist course focuses on historical literature (including “Transmissions of the Lamp” texts and local gazetteers) of Chinese Buddhist schools. While adopting a diachronic perspective, covering texts between the 10th and the 17th century, the special angle of the course is to relate the study of historical sources to modern technologies and most recent advances in Digital Humanities. This will offer students important insights in key Chinese text genres and their study based on modern research tools.

In addition to the introductory lectures, the students will be introduced to Buddhist historical key texts and. Throughout the course, there will be an emphasis on instructing the students how to approach the material from a textual and linguistic angle, as well as contextualizing it based on the respective socio-cultural frameworks. This will be done with the help of active text readings and discussions. Another focal point will be the integration of latest technologies developed in Digital Humanities, and how they can be applied in research of Chinese premodern textual materials. In addition to introducing databases, digital corpora, and electronic reference tools, the PhD students will be taught how to practically apply those tools in their respective fields of research. Furthermore, technological advances will be discussed in an interdisciplinary context with local specialists of Digital Humanities at Ghent University.


The course aims to provide intensive training for doctoral students with a background in Chinese studies, Chinese religions, and/or digital humanities. One part of the course is dedicated to lectures, complimented by parts which focus on active student participation, including text readings, discussions, and the practice of implementing digital tools in their research. In more detail, the course aims:

  • to enhance the students’ understanding of the emergence of Chinese key text genres, exemplified by the important Chan Buddhist “Transmission of Lamp” genre;
  • to introduce the students to the little studied genre of local gazetteers as an important source for regional cultural and religious developments;
  • to provide students with knowledge of recent developments in Digital Humanities and the development of databases, as applied in the research context of pre-modern Chinese and East Asian Buddhism;
  • to improve students’ reading skills of Buddhist Hybrid Chinese, Song Dynasty colloquial Chinese, and the historical writing style of local gazetteers of the Ming / Qing periods.

Dates and Programme

October 21 – 25, 2019 (Monday till Friday)

Lecturers / speakers

MB = Marcus Bingenheimer (Temple University)
CW = Christian Wittern (Kyoto University)

CA = Christoph Anderl (Ghent University)

AH = Ann Heirman (Ghent University)

Date Time Subject
Monday October 21, 2019 09h30-10h00 Welcome of the participants by the Doctoral School organizers (CA and AH)
10h00-11h00 Lecture and discussion 1: Gazetteers literature, reference tools, and print editions of Buddhist Temple Gazetteers (MB)
11h15-12h15 Practice session 1: material in printed form (45 mins. practice, 15 mins reports) (MB)
12h15-14h15 Lunch
14h15-15h15 Lecture and discussion 2: The Digital Archive of Chinese Buddhist Temple Gazetteers at DDBC (archive / dataset part) (MB)
15h30-16h30 Practice session 2: Digital datasets (45 mins. practice, 15 mins reports) (MB)
Tuesday October 22, 2019 10h00-11h00 Lecture and discussion 3: The Digital Archive of Chinese Buddhist Temple Gazetteers at DDBC (online interface) (MB)
11h15-12h15 Practice session 3: Working with the interface (45 mins practice, 15 mins reports) (MB)
12h15-14h15 Lunch break
14h15-15h00 Lecture and discussion 4: The Gazetteers of Mt. Putuo – Chinese whispers or reliable text witness? (MB)
15h15-16h15 Text reading 1: Reading of selected historical sources (MB)
16h15-17h00 Discussions and Q&A with students (MB and CW)
Wednesday October 23, 2019 10h00-11h00 Lecture and discussion 5: A short introduction to the Ghent Database of Chinese Medieval Texts as a flexible research tool (CA, with MB)
11h15-12h15 Presentation of students' projects 1 (MB, CW, CA)
12h15-14h15 Lunch break
14h15-15h15 Presentation of students' projects 2 (MB, CW, CA)
15h30-17h00 Short presentation of Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities; Discussions and Q&A with students and Digital Humanities researchers from Ghent University: Recent trends in Digital Humanities from an interdisciplinary perspective (SC, MB, CW, CA)
Thursday October 24, 2019 10h00-12h00 Lecture and discussion 6: Digitization of printed and manuscript historical records: general and specific problems, methods, and results (with example from recent digitization projects of Chan records and the Daoist canon) (CW, with MB and CA)
12h00-14h00 Lunch break
14h00-16h30 Text reading 2: Reading of selected Chan records (CW)
Friday October 25, 2019 10h00-12h00 Text reading 3: Reading of selected Chan records (CW)
12h00-14h00 Lunch break
14h00-16h00 Text reading 4: Reading and discussion of selected Chan records (CW)
16h00-16h40 Final discussions and Q&A with students (CW, with MB und CA)



Het Pand Ghent University, Onderbergen 1, 9000 Gent. Room to be communicated.

Registration fee

Free of charge for members of Ghent University Doctoral School


Number of participants

Maximum 25

Evaluation criteria (doctoral training programme)

100% attendance and participation