Author Archives: Miaoling Xue

Reflection on Mapping and GeoHumanities

This is a reflection of our reading/discussion on mapping and GeoHumanities this semester.

We discussed Monmonier, Mark. How to Lie with Maps. 2nd ed. The University of Chicago Press, 1996. (Chapter 1 and 2, 20 pages) in our class, and I did some further readings on this topic, shown as follows:

Cresswell, Tim. Place: An Introduction. 2nd ed. Chichester, England: Wiley Blackwell, 2015. (Introduction, 18 pages)

Guldi, Jo. “The Spatial Turn in History.” Available at

Dear, Michiael et al. Geohumanities: Art History Text at the Edge of Place. London: Routledge, 2011.

Engberg-Pedersen, Anders. “Introduction: Enstranging the Map: On Literature and Cartography.” In Literature and Cartography: Theories, Histories, Genres, 1–18. Cambridge Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2017.

Cooper, David, Christopher Donaldson, and Patricia Murrieta-Flores. “Introduction: Rethinking Literary Mapping.” In Literary Mapping in the Digital Age, edited by Cooper, David et al. 1–22. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2016.

I am very much interested in research projects at the intersection of geospatial technologies, digital storytelling, and literary studies, and I believe it is important for us to consider questions regarding the definitions of “space,” “place,” and “landscapes” in our own lives. For example, Cresswell gives excellent examples in his introduction, talking about location, locale, and sense of place, three concepts made by John Agnew. You will definitely make different connections when you see 40.7128° N, 74.0060° W, New York, museums/gardens/restaurants/bars you go to in New York, GC CUNY, and your home in NYC. And you are also doing place-making activities in traditional ways, like home decorations, and in new ways, like reporting an issue in Google Maps. These critical issues direct me to think more about space and place in cartographic imagination in history, literature, politics, business, etc. So I started to use concepts of map elements, projections, and symbols mentioned by Monmonier in his book to analyze and critique bad examples and so-called strange maps. Delightful experience! And I hope we can all explore the world and get lost on purpose in the future by harnessing various mapping tools.

For challenges when using mapping tools to tell stories/do digital storytelling, I will always ask myself some underlying questions, such as why do we map? What is to be mapped? Should we move beyond digital mapping tools? Can GIS be integrated with other methodologies in the humanities and geographic information science?

Final Project-Feminist Interventions: Designing Descriptive Markup for the Japanese Women Directors Project

Introduction: For the final project, I propose to design custom markup schemas and tagsets for encoding research writings we make on Japanese women directors. The project is a digital experiment searching for methods to create research-based DTD (Document Type Definition) that contain critical and interpretative tags which we use to deliver bio details on birth, name, family, education, and significant life events but also marks the contextual information on women directors’ career paths, such as team, co-worker, award, organization, company, funding, social movement, dual profession, etc. I will post my abstract, examples I create to explain XML/DTD, director names I collect, and feminist markup projects I refer to for your reference.
NOTE: A Document Type Definition (DTD) is a set of rules that define the structure of an XML file. A well-formed XML document does not require a DTD and can just follow common rules but creating a DTD can ensure the integrity and consistency of the XML document. Our project will define elements, attributes, relationships, and constraints to customize the DTDs to give interpretive information in greater detail.

Abstract: Asian women’s images in the film industry have long been filtered through a Western male gaze and thus have been historically objectified as exotic and fetish beauties. Asian women filmmakers’ efforts also do not receive the same attention in a male-dominated film culture of auteurism. However, within the past few years, we have seen rising Asian women directors in the industry and their films gaining recognition. A generation of Asian women directors has achieved success in domestic and international film circles, including Yoon Ga-eun, Kawase Naomi, and Chloé Zhao, to name a few. In the meantime, there is also an emerging group of scholars working on introducing, translating, and analyzing these women’s works to reshape the images of Asian women in film studies. The Japanese Women Directors Project (JWDP), a public-facing platform that creates open educational resources featuring women’s voices in the Japanese film industry, represents a step in the new direction of cinema feminist interventions.
This project builds upon Phrase 2 of the JWDP, which explores ways of constructing director profile pages and producing the scholarly history of studies on Japanese women as creators in the film industry. Our project aims to use descriptive markup language (Extensible Markup Language) to encode interpretive entries as the research on Japanese women directors is being carried out. We plan to serve the needs of educators, students, and the public, who expect to efficiently find a broader range of genres and styles produced by women directors. Unlike other TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) projects that annotate and store the structural elements in preexisting textual materials, our project is experimental to the extent that we are encoding research writings that we are currently making. The result of this project contributes to Phrase 3 of the JWDP, which delivers our born-digital encoded content through a searchable database.

Examples of XML/DTD I made:

Figure 1. A minimal XML document example

The start tag (e.g., <director>) marks the point in the sequence that an element starts, and the element closes with the end tag (e.g., </director>). We can also add attributes to the document. Here attribute values are specified for the <directorsList> element through the attributes xml: id and status. Later an XML processor can recognize this <directorList> as a draft instead of the final version, and the “list1” could label its element occurrence for later cross-reference works.

Figure 2. An example of the DTD

In this example, the DTD is defined within the DOCTYPE declaration. The DTD specifies that the document’s root element is <directors>. The root element can contain one or more <director> elements. Each <director> element must have an id attribute and can contain a <name>, a <birthyear>, a <films>, and an optional <awards> element.

The above examples are just at a very minimal level and the final step is to build a delivery system using XSLT, Java-related technologies, and Apache Tomcat that allows users to search and navigate the data we create.

Women directors for the first trial: When we use the words “Japanese” and “women” to identify our research targets, we are referring to all directors self-identified as women, including Japanese women working outside Japan and non-Japanese women working in Japan. The first trial of this project will be very specialized, covering a range of fifteen Japanese women directors who make live-action narrative films. We hope to monitor the trial’s progress and expand the scope in a later stage to include women working on other genres, such as animation, documentaries, and experimental films. The primary objective of this project is to create a structured and organized database of Japanese women directors encoded by XML (Extensive Markup Language), making it easier to search and retrieve specific pieces of information on relevant subjects in their lives and works, such as education, employment, production, network, and social work.

Figure 3. Director List for the project

Feminist markup projects:
Orlando: Women’s Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present
Women Writer’s Online (WWO)
Digital Mitford: The Mary Russell Mitford Archive

Read more:
Beshero-Bondar, Elisa, Raffaele Viglianti, Helena Bermúdez Sabel, and Janelle Jenstad. “Revising Sex and Gender in the TEI Guidelines.” Accessed December 22, 2022,

Brown, Susan, Patricia Clements, and Isobel Grundy, eds. “Introduction.” Orlando: Women’s Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present. Cambridge University Press, 2022. Accessed December 22, 2022, 

Cummings, James. “The Text Encoding Initiative and Study of Literature.” In A Companion to Digital Literary Studies, edited by Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth, 451–476. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2004.

Pierazzo, Elena. “Textual Scholarship and Text Encoding.” In A New Companion to Digital Humanities, edited by Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth, 307–321. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 2016.

The TEI Consortium. “TEI P5: Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange.” Last updated October 25, 2022.

Wernimont, Jacqueline. “Whence Feminism? Assessing Feminist Interventions in Digital Literary Archives.” Digital Humanities Quarterly 7, no. 1 (2013).

Connected Pedagogy Praxis Assignment Blog

I left two annotations asking ask students questions related to the concept of “industry,” social media celebrities, and self-presentations online in the four-dimensional world. The two annotations are steps in a process for them to construct a theoretical framework of self and performance in the digital age.

What I annotated 1:

I asked the question:

How do you understand the “industry” here? What’s your thought on the promotion and presentation of self by social media celebrities? Do you agree that the authenticity of self must diminish if one enters this “industry” in four dimensions?

I aim to encourage students to find a connection between their own lives and the reading, so I choose social media celebrities as a perspective to examine the mysterious mix of cyberspace and the real world in which we are all living. Scott’s idea of the fourth dimension concerns our sense of ourselves that has been twisted in the blurring of boundaries between our social and private lives. I asked the question to encourage students to consider the idea of “industry” and “celebrity capital in the digital era.”

I further explore the idea of “self” in my following annotation:

I asked the question and provided them with an additional resource:

Check out this book, a very good one about how we present ourselves and our activities to others in social interactions. Goffman, Erving. The Representation of Self in Everyday Life. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Social Sciences Research Centre, 1956. You could also watch this video, a short introduction to this book.

In the four-dimensional world, do we still have a back/front stage difference, as discussed by Goffman? Where is the stage, and how is communication managed in a digital age? For example, can an online narrative of a person disappear or die? What does “death” mean in the four-dimensional world? Consider examples like “Get Ready with Me” and “Room Tour” YouTube videos.

I introduced a book written by Erving Goffman and gave students a link to a YouTube video summarizing this book. Goffman’s book is a great one analyzing a theatrical model of everyday self-performance. I would like to help students construct a theoretical framework of the stage, self, performance, social interactions, and digital age by connecting Scott’s book and Goffman’s book, but I also realized that this book might be too long to digest as supplementary material. So I listed a YouTube link here to a short introduction video. To help students connect their own lives and the abstract content they are readings, I raised the examples of “Get Ready with Me” and “Room Tour” YouTube videos.

Voyant and Fortune-telling Poetry

What is Omikuji?

If you visit shrines and temples in Asia, you may often see people praying for good wishes and taking Omikuji (fortunes written on paper strips) from boxes or even coin-slot machines. The Omikuji predicts your fortunes in health, work, study, marriage, etc. There are many kinds of words written on Omikuji to describe fortunes, and I am interested in the method of using classical Japanese poetry (waka) as divination.

Figure 1

I decided to run some fortune-telling poems with Voyant to see the results. The Omikuji strips are usually rolled up and folded; you will need to unroll them to see the result. Before you read the fortune-telling poems, you will see a general indicator to tell you if you are lucky today. Among many categorization methods, the examples I am using are divided as follows,

Figure 2
  • Dai-kichi大吉 (excellent luck)
  • Kichi吉 (good luck)
  • Chu-kichi中吉 (moderate luck)
  • Sho-kichi小吉 (a little bit of luck)
  • Sue-kichi末吉 (bad luck; good luck yet to come)


I retrieved the data from the Omikuji-joshidosya website. It is said that 70% of current Omikuji strips in Japan are made by the Nishoyamada Shrine, where the Organization Joshidosha (Women’s Road Company) locates.

Figure 3

My first attempt was a total disappointment. See the Figure 4,

Figure 4

The high-frequency words that appeared in Cirrus, TermsBerry, and Trends are single hiragana characters instead of objects’ names and verbs. These words are similar to determiners and prepositions (stopwords in Voyant) in English (the, a, in, to, form, etc.). I then also realized that stopwords are not the only problem in analyzing Japanese text. Text segmentation is also different in Japanese: this issue is already super complicated in modern Japanese, not to mention that the poems in my mini-project are written in classical Japanese. So I tried to refer to the article “Basic Python for Japanese Studies: Using fugashi for Text Segmentation” and see if I could reframe the textual structure of my text for Voyant. For example, I could clean my text before uploading it to Voyant by removing auxiliary verbs, particles, suffixes, prefixes, etc. I also learned about a more manageable solution about Japanese version of stopwords from Japanese DH scholar Nagasaki Kiyonori in his post.

Inspired by Nagasaki Kiyonori, I started to create a stopword list by myself. (Figure 5) The default setting of the stopword list in Voyant Japanese mode is based on modern Japanese. See some examples here,

あそこ あの あのかた あの人 あります あれ います え おります から

何 彼 彼女 我々 私 私達 貴方 貴方方

Unlike modern Japanese or Japanese in the Meiji period (1868–1912), auxiliary verbs and particles are almost used in a completely different system in classical Japanese. See some examples in my stopword list here,

が て して で つつ つ ぬ たり り き けり む

Figure 5

But I am glad I chose poetry to do the Voyant experiment because the waka poetry has a relatively easier text segmentation method: one poem always breaks into phrases of 5/7/5/7/7.

Example: 朝日かげ たゞさす庭の 松が枝に 千代よぶ鶴の こえののどけさ

Asahikage (5)   tadasasuniwano (7)     matsugaeni (5)   chiyoyobutsuruno (7)     koenonodokesa (7)

Research Questions and Result

Okay, now we have a feasible approach! The next question is about the purpose of this analysis. Should I do a full-text analysis, or should I do several studies with questions that could be asked about those poems? For example, what seasons and figurative language are chosen for good luck and bad luck respectively?

I decided to do a comparison of imagery/actions used in the excellent luck group and the bad luck group. See the number of poems in each group:

  • Dai-kichi大吉 (excellent luck) 17
  • Kichi吉 (good luck) 6
  • Chu-kichi中吉 (moderate luck) 7
  • Sho-kichi小吉 (a little bit of luck) 9
  • Sue-kichi末吉 (bad luck; good luck yet to come) 11

The result of Dai-kichi大吉 (excellent luck)

Keywords: Spring, breeze, sakura, shadow, rain, sunny, garden, peacefully

Figure 6

The result of Sue-kichi 末吉 (bad luck)

Keywords: autumn, quiet, see, moon, shadow, flower, scatter, reality, top of a tree

Figure 7

The keywords mentioned above have already shown us a sharp comparison between what the creators believe as good luck and bad luck. I am very satisfied with the result, even though I know there are a lot to be improved. I also went to try TermsBerry and Trends in Voyant and realized that I can do further studies using these features. For example although the keyword “flower” and “shadow” both appear in two groups, what associations they have that make them different in good and back luck groups? The example in Figure 8 shows a clear association between flower, sakura (both in hiragana and kanji characters), and peach flower,

Figure 8


The Getting Started with Text Mining is very helpful. I started my mini-project without big data but with the idea that I need to prepare my data (cleaning and removing). If I want to use Voyant to do deeper and larger scale analysis of poems and classical Japanese texts, it definitely requires a huge preparation work. For example, I believe if I do more stopwords considering conjugations, the result probably will be more accurate. I think this tool is great for learning intertextuality and imagery in poetry writing.

There are also Sinitic poetry (kanshi 漢詩) fortune-telling Omikuji! Oh, that would be in a totally different linguist structure, but worth a try next time.

Doing Public Humanities: Open Access Publishing/ Minimal Computing / Digital Scholarship

The first time I came across the topic of public humanities was by reading the book Doing Public Humanities edited by Susan Smulyan. I learn that public humanities happens in collaboration and engages diverse public audiences. But as put by Robyn Schroeder in “The Rise of the Public Humanists,” digital technologies could be seen as disruptions that “have undermined the traditional source of authority for researchers and archivists.” (20) Fitzpatrick’s proposed ideas in “Working in Public” encourages me to think further how to engage openly and explore widely together to create, support, and promote projects/works toward the public good, particularly in a digital age.

The most complex challenge in doing generous thinking I learned from her writing is understanding and balancing the interests of diverse and sometimes even competing stakeholders within and outside of your fields/organizations and facilitating good conversations. Coping with uncertainty and unfamiliarity in conversations and collaborations is undoubtedly not easy. In the session on public access, she mentions the advantages of OA journals (which I read further explanation in Suber’s piece “What Is Open Access?”). She uses OA journals in science as good examples that help sciences progress. And systematically speaking, publishing costs are also said to be included in grants in the sciences, which aims to promote knowledge transmission and public engagement. However, I also see difficulties in balancing interests in the OA publishing in science. There is an article titled “Why I think ending article-processing charges will save open access,” published last week in Nature written by Juan Pablo Alperin.

Alperin explains how difficult it is for Latin American scholars to publish in well-funded top journals in Europe and North America due to increasing APC (Article processing charges) payments. I learned from scientists I follow on SNS that they currently need to pay around $4,000-5,000 for the APC per article. Scientists could pay the APC from their grants, and as Fitzpatrick writes, “those tenured, and tenure-track faculty and other fully employed members of our professions who can and should contribute to the world the products of the labor that they have already been supported in undertaking.” (157) But there is also the issue of geographical inequalities, even among tenured faculty and schools. Thereby, I am excited to find out that Fitzpatrick also addresses “the dominance of standard English” (164) in this chapter. Echoing her, I also think translation works are not valued enough as scholarly contributions. And ultimately, I ask for a critical reflection on how the world beyond the US’s boundaries is taught and learned and how we could combine the DH and regional studies to help the students/the public understand the rapidly changing world. Geographical inequalities, as well as inequalities in race, gender, and age, requires us to consider general questions like the role of public intellectuals but also look into some invisible questions regarding capabilities in utilizing technologies during the development of technologies, as addressed by Risam and Gil in “The Questions of Minimal Computing.”

And lastly, let us revisit the idea of public intellectual and public scholarship. Speaking and writing to the public is not enough to become a public intellectual. I notice some scholars do public scholarship by formulating their beliefs and arguments on fighting against what they oppose. However, some fail to discover what they inherently support and give good guidance in questions outside their disciplines but relate to global social and cultural issues. I would argue for consciousness and self-awareness in the process of producing public goods

Praxis Mapping: A Literary Journey to Yoshino (Demo Site)

I created a map (demo) based on a travelogue written by a Japanese courtier and poet Asukai Masaaki (1611–1679), about his journey to Yoshino, Nara, Japan, in the spring of 1654. The data of the map is taken from the text transcribed by me from a beautifully brushed and decorated manuscript, A Record of Yoshino (Yoshino ki, mid-17th c.). This manuscript is about twenty-two pages long, and thirty-seven poems are recorded in the version I use. I only chose two or three of them to do a demo for this assignment and hope that I can build a template/layout design for future use. I created a public account in ArcGIS Online for this assignment, so there are not many customizing capabilities available.  

I chose ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS StoryMaps to create this demo.

Map: The Yoshino Map

StoryMap: A Literary Journey to Yoshino (Demo)

As Olivia Ildefonso explains in “Finding the Right Tools for Mapping,” ArcGIS creates high-resolution maps but is very expensive if you want to buy the full version. I had experiences, though very limited, of using the student account (the full version ArcGIS) in the past and thus did some comparisons this time.

  • The locations in this travelogue are all local spots that are very difficult to search and identity using the searching function in ArcGIS Online. Then I tried the “Express map” feature in the StoryMap, but I could only find “Yoshino, Nara,” as shown in the image below (Figure 1).
Figure 1

I was instead looking for another way to create a customized map that could show details of local sites. I made a map in Google Maps (location names in Japanese are available), downloaded its KML, and uploaded the KML file as content to my ArcGIS account. It works perfectly, as shown below (Figure 2).

Figure 2

I didn’t notice the limitations of adding non-Western spots in ArcGIS maps before trying it. As Sen writes in “Dividing Lines,” “for those of us whose corners of the world are considered ‘remote’ or ‘uncharted’ from an essentialist white, Western perspective, the interface is far from seamless.”

  • We do not know whether the 37 poems in the manuscript are in chronological order. It is possible that the poet wrote poems one by one during his journey, but it is also possible that he took notes and went back home to finish the work. So, I did not mark a direction on the map but only provided spots he visited. In the StoryMaps where I can add more interactive features (e.g. Map tour), I thought it would be easier for viewers to navigate if I have an order, so I just did a demo following the poem order. But it would be an excellent question to consider the sense of time and geographical distance presented by textual materials in premodern times when we design an interactive digital map in which modern readers could explore the locations via a historical figure’s mind (or maybe also via the designer’s mind). This question is an idea that I can relate to Monmonier’s book How to Lie with Maps. Besides scales and symbols, directions and order of locations could also lie to us. Or if we use new orders as an interpretation of the original text, would it be an issue?
  • I played with features like “Express maps,” “Slide,” and “Sidecar” in StoryMaps and thought these are great tools to create past-present comparisons and literary maps (content + geographical info). “Slide” is very interesting in that it allows two images to be overlaid and one can swipe back and forth. (Figure 3)
Figure 3
  • However, since the account I used this time is public, many features are unavailable. For example, sometimes, I could not change the font/size of the text. Also, it was impossible to build a bilingual StoryMap in the past, but I successfully inserted Japanese text into my StoryMap this time. However, if I wanted to try further, I still couldn’t do the vertical direction for the Japanese poems. (Figure 4)
Figure 4
  • Last, both the map and StoryMap could be shared by URLs. But the group function (members in the group could collaboratively work on one project) in StoryMap is not very user friendly. If I use a school account, it seems easy to find partners in my school and share a work-in-progress privately. But I see obstacles in sharing your project with members outside your school. On YouTube, you could upload a video as “unlist (more sharable than private),” but I haven’t found a level between “private” and “public” in StoryMaps, which makes teaching using StoryMaps in the classroom a bit challenging due to copyright concerns.

No Singular “Digital Humanities”

When we review Gold’s intro “The Digital Humanities Moment” in 2012, Klein and Gold’s intro “Digital Humanities: The Expanded Field” in 2016, and the last one in 2019 Gold and Klein’s intro “A DH That Matters” as a set, we see a clear overview in-progress of what DH means, what DH does, and what the current notion of DH is not able to cover and explain. By calling DH the “big tent” and supporting DH as an expanded field, scholars in the field set the ground and point the direction for us to examine broad-scale/interdisciplinary studies/multiple power structures (race, gender, class, geography, etc.) in defining DH. We clearly could not think DH in the singular form in any unified way. I found the organizing method of “boundary objects” in the Bodies of Information very useful and as I put in my annotations the “polythetic” (having many, but not all properties, in common) way of giving definitions but in the meantime get all on board is a very good practice too. Wernimont and Losh’s Introduction and Josephs and Risam’s work “The Digital Black Atlantic” challenge the concept of “big tent” and calls on us to reconsider the question: is this “big tent” big enough to include marginalized or even invisible groups?

The Torn Apart/Separados is a social justice DH project of data narratives presenting the landscape of immigrant detention and is a collaboration among faculties, librarians, and students. The project looks at marginalized groups’ stories happening in the “backyards,” under the “big tent” and represents a way of looking at immigrant data and designing visualizations. I also searched the name of the project and found many talks/reports/interviews done by their team members, which I think we could further ask a good question in defining DH practices: how to facilitate collaboration and build networks/how to promote and increase a project’s impact to encourage people to understand a crisis.

The Early Caribbean Digital Archive presents pre-twentieth-century Caribbean materials to unfold the stories of the early Caribbean. I browsed the “Archive” and “Classroom” sections on their site and think this project is a wonderful example of combing DH and its “stepchild” Digital Pedagogy. Their design paid special attention to diverse perspectives and possible readers’ reactions to materials that might be authored-centered in the past. (“The materials in the archive are primarily authored and published by Europeans, but the ECDA aims to use digital tools to “remix” the archive and foreground the centrality and creativity of enslaved and free African, Afro-creole, and Indigenous peoples in the Caribbean world.” “Take a Tour.” Early Caribbean Digital Archive. Accessed September 7, 2022. By looking at this project, I am especially interested but also puzzled at the intersection of DH and Literary Studies. In most DH definitions, we see “humanities “but I usually see more practices in History and Sociology. If we are going to cover sub-disciplines of Humanities, what does it mean to be a DH scholar in literature and how do we study narratives, novels, poetry, and diaries? Is it necessary to distinguish methods between literary history and close reading?

The two sites above are housed in the universities’ domains. The Colored Conventions Project is different and is a collaboration between universities. But I also found a site sustainability issue there. When I clicked the button “Read Project Principles,” a 404 page pops up. This might not be specifically a DH definition problem, but how we store things in the digital age is super critical in creating DH projects.  

Reviews in Digital Humanities is definitely a pilot of peer-reviewed scholarly contributions in the field of DH. Peer reviews and the relevant publishing process are certainly an issue in evaluating what counts in a scholar’s contribution to a certain field. I really enjoyed reading these reviews but am still not sure about what we should do to develop DH research journals other than the review type.