The Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship

William Deal

deal7_2 2011

Nearly 20 years ago, Deal (Religious Studies) meticulously color-coded by hand the content categories of some of the tales from the Japanese Buddhist text Hokke genki, "Miraculous Tales of the Lotus Sutra," in order to see the people, events, regions of 11th century Japan.

His 2011 Freedman Fellows award and newly gained skills now allow him to apply digital textual and spatial analysis tools to the texts. Using XML and TEI to analyze and interpret the tales unlocks the complexity of the texts and also "dramatically changes what is possible," beyond reading texts. Using digital technologies, research is possible in new ways: one can see word frequencies, the relationships of those content categories on a larger scale, the scope of Buddhism in 11th century Japan via GIS, and a developing concordance of key words in context.

To read more about this Freedman Fellow, visit the KSL News Blog by clicking here.



In studying Asian religious and ethical traditions, my students are limited by the lack of access to other cultures outside of the textual descriptions and analyses that I provide them or that they uncover in their essay research. Images, films and other media are of some help, but there is rarely the opportunity for significant immersive, interactive experiences with the extensive visual culture that Buddhist traditions have produced. Buddhist traditions are image-rich and these images often express in visual and concrete ways the deeply theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of Buddhist thought and ritual.

My project proposal, “Buddhist Imaginative Worlds,” envisions the use of multimedia technologies and digital tools to bring students a much richer cognitive and aesthetic experience and understanding of Buddhist traditions. In short, I want to move my students from the static descriptions they encounter in Buddhist texts to the rich, imaginative world of Buddhist thought and iconography. In order to accomplish this, I need to learn the kinds of digital tools and technologies taught through the Freedman Fellow Program.

For more information please see his website:

  • Freedman Fellows 2011 Announced
  • Freedman Fellows Program 2011
  • Freedman Center Fellow Program 2010
  • Freedman Fellows 2009 Announced

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