China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
It is said that we live in the Information Age, that a flood of information has transformed our ways of being within the world. Information flows all around us, in the genetic codes of living organisms and in the circuits of communication in social organizations, while repositories such as Google Books and Wikipedia index data at increasingly massive scales. And yet, while the current age seems oversaturated with information, this is simply the latest information age—previous eras also wrestled with the problems of "too much information." This double-panel will rethink the history of Chinese literary production as a history of the technologies with which information was managed. By “literature,” we have in mind not a narrow subsection of cultural forms such as regulated verse or serialized fiction, but rather the broader set of forms, practices, and genres which collectively constitute the cultural apparatus of literary writing and reading. The long history of cultural forms and practices through which texts were organized and manipulated is a history of literary information that has not yet been told. These two panels thus seek to reconceptualize the Chinese literary tradition from its beginnings to the contemporary period and to showcase new theoretical perspectives from the emerging field of humanities informatics. Panel 1 will examine the problems of search and retrieval in navigating large corpora of information, while Panel 2 will examine how concepts of complexity and overload are encoded in the cultural forms and practices of information management.