Dorothy Wong

Dorothy Wong, Associate Professor of Art

The Silk Road on the Web

The University is a world leader in digital scholarship in the humanities. Award-winning researchers at the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) are creating powerful interactive Web sites to share their scholarly materials online.

Art historian Dorothy Wong received an IATH fellowship to develop a site where scholarship about the Silk Road—a network of trade routes that once flourished between ancient China and the Roman Empire—intersects with the enormous analytical capabilities of the IATH site. At the juncture of these two roads, she said, “We’ll be able to conduct research at a level that was previously unimaginable.”

Ms. Wong examines the relationship between religious texts and visual representations such as paintings and sculpture. She’s developed “Silk Road: The Path of Transmission of Avalokitesvara,” an interactive tool that focuses on art related to the Buddhist Bodhisattva of Compassion, whose devotional followers spread throughout Asia along the land and maritime routes of the Silk Road. Visual representations of Avalokitesvara, one of the most important Buddhist deities, differ from region to region in both style and iconography.

“Silk Road” will enable scholars to organize and compare digitized images of the Bodhisattva across time and geography. “Some topics, such as the transmission of complex ideas like religion, require the compilation, tabulation, and analysis of extensive information,” Ms. Wong said. “Digital technologies can assist scholars in this task.”