Bodies of texts: Women calligraphers and the elite vernacular culture in late chosǒn Korea (1392-1910)

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Men's references to women's writing in vernacular Korean script never term this practice calligraphy, and yet articles of women's intricate brushwork reveal that in late Chosǒn Korea (1392-1910) this was a highly aestheticized practice with recognized social importance and a meticulous training process. This article captures the moment when vernacular Korean scriptural practices ascended the elite canon, which resulted in the emergence of high vernacular culture. It historicizes the gendered logic of representation in a male-authored historical archive to uncover the contours of a women-centered vernacular aesthetic canon that assumed a status of prestige alongside male culture in literary Chinese. The article unravels the meaning of the term calligraphy when it is applied to women's vernacular handwriting and ponders the connection between women's bodily discipline, productive work, and exquisite vernacular brushwork. This opens an alternative perspective not only on the gender politics of the Chosǒn society but also on the culture of the time, which is hitherto seen as dominated by a male-centered literary Chinese canon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-81
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Asian Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


  • Chosǒn Korea
  • Elite vernacular culture
  • Lineage novel
  • Vernacular Korean calligraphy
  • Women's culture


Dive into the research topics of 'Bodies of texts: Women calligraphers and the elite vernacular culture in late chosǒn Korea (1392-1910)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this