‘In a World Illuminated by Words’:A Diachronic, Quantitative Analysis of Mu Dan's Poetic Style

Abstract: In this study, our scholarly focus is to discern the connection between the stylistic evolution and sentimental undertones of Mudan, a luminary in modern Chinese poetry. We navigate this exploration by correlating life experiences of Mudan, both personal and shaped by external historical events, with the stylistic and sentimental variations observed in his poetic corpus. To accomplish this, we delve into the exhaustive two-volume anthology of Mudan’s poems, enriching our investigation with supplemental material sourced from ancillary editions of his poetry collection, newspaper articles, and poetry found in the comprehensive CNBKSY database. Harnessing the power of various digital humanities methodologies, we chart a course through the investigation by applying word frequency studies, two-mode network analysis to observe word selection trends, and sentiment analysis, collectively lending depth to our study. This also allows us to tackle key challenges. Firstly, our challenge is to improve the traditional chronological delineation of Mudan's work using quantified stylistic results derived from our methods. By applying these quantitative measurements, we seek to infuse the temporal division of Mudan's oeuvre with the continuity of the poet's subjective development. Simultaneously, we aspire to discern the phased transition within this continuity. Secondly, we aim to understand how Mudan's life experiences, both personal and those influenced by external historical events, exerted influence over his poetry writing and translation practices. Our anticipated outcomes aim to augment the existing body of research in the literary discipline, shedding light on the heretofore uncharted territories within Mudan's poetry. Moreover, we seek to underscore the potency of digital humanities methodologies for elucidating new insights in poetry research. We hypothesize that our findings will refine the extant chronological divisions of Mudan's literary development, and importantly, shed light on how external historical events may have shaped his literary oeuvre.

# Team members

  • Zhiyuan Ji,Renmin University of China
  • Yingying Meng,City University of Hong Kong
  • Lin Du,University of California, Los Angeles
  • Xiaoyu Chen,New York University
  • Xi Lei,École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

# Supervisor