Ross King

Professor Ross King earned his BA in Linguistics and Political Science from Yale College and his MA and PhD from Harvard in Linguistics. Currently he serves as Professor of Korean and Head of Department in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. King’s main research interests are Korean historical linguistics and the history of language, writing and literary culture in the ‘Sinographic Cosmopolis’ (漢字文化圈).“




1) “The Moon Reflected in a Thousand Rivers: Literary and Linguistic Problems in Wŏrinch’ŏn’gang chi kok

Despite being one of the very first literary works written using the newly invented Korean script in mid-15th century Chosŏn, the Wŏrinch’ŏn’gang chi kok 月印千江之曲 (Wŏl kok) has been little studied or appreciated. This paper surveys some of the debates about the authorship, original language, and relative chronology of the Wŏl kok vis-à-vis other early vernacular texts before focusing on one pesky grammatical issue in Middle Korean. I propose a new approach to transitivity in Middle Korean and show how this new approach improves on earlier analyses and also helps our understanding (and translations) of the Wo˘ l kok.

  • Tuesday 15 May 2018, 15:00-17:00, EHESS (room A06_47) - 54 bd Raspail 75006 Paris


2) “Accessing Literary Sinitic through Fiction:  The role of the Chŏndŭng sinhwa kuhae 『剪燈新話句解』 in Chosŏn”

What role did Chinese fiction play in Chosŏn for Koreans learning different varieties of Literary Sinitic? This paper studies the reception of the famous early Ming collection, Jiandeng xinhua 剪燈新話 in Chosŏn Korea. I argue that, despite the attention focussed in most research to date on the JDXH’s literary impact, its enduring legacy in Korea was as an advanced crib or style manual for Koreans as they honed their skills in various genres of Literary Sinitic prose and poetry.

  • Tuesday 15 May 2018, 17:00-19:00, EHESS (room A06_47) - 54 bd Raspail 75006 Paris


3) “Out of the Margins: The Western Wing (西廂記) Glossarial Complex in Late Chosŏn and the Problem of the Literary Vernacular”

Inspired by Ge Liangyan’s (2001) study of the development of Chinese vernacular fiction, my paper focuses literally on the margins of the page. And my focus is on late-Chosŏn Korea (1392-1897) and its encounter with precisely the sort of literary vernacular Sinitic that Ge studies in his book. How did late-Chosŏn Korean intellectuals encounter and understand this very different register of written Chinese? I use the specific case of one literary work and its reception in Korea: the Xixiangji 西廂記 or Story of the Western Wing.

  • Tuesday 22 May 2018, 15:00-17:00, EHESS (room A06_47) - 54 bd Raspail 75006 Paris


4) ““I thank Korea for her books:” James Scarth Gale, Korean Literature in hanmun (漢文), and Allo-metropolitan Missionary Orientalism

In this lecture, I give an overview of my forthcoming book by the same title. I contextualize James Scarth Gale’s 40-year career as a missionary scholar in Korea (1888-1927) and argue that the Gale Papers force a reevaluation of our image of Gale and his legacy: from that of missionary, lexicographer, historian, and occasional translator of premodern fiction, to dedicated Korean bibliophile, and champion, prolific translator and interpreter of Korean literature and literary culture in Literary Sinitic.”

  • Tuesday 29 May 2018, 15:00-17:00, EHESS (room A06_47) - 54 bd Raspail 75006 Paris