Kinship Novels of Early Modern Korea: Between Genealogical Time and the Domestic Everyday (April 14, 2021)

The BU Dept. of World Languages and Literatures’ New Books in East Asian Literature lecture series, as part of its  2020-2021 theme “Kinship, Sexuality, and Emotions,” is pleased to present

Kinship Novels of Early Modern Korea:
Between Genealogical Time and the Domestic Everyday

Ksenia Chizhova

(Assistant Professor of Korean Literature and Cultural Studies,
Department of East Asian Studies, Princeton University)

Wednesday, April 14, 2021
from 11am-12:30pm ET

Please register for the event through the following link:


Telling stories: that sounds innocuous enough. But for the first Violence and bloody family feuds constitute the core of the so-called lineage novels (kamun sosŏl) that circulated in Chosŏn Korea from the late seventeenth to the early twentieth century. Such subject matter becomes ever more puzzling when we consider that the main audience for these texts were elite women of Korea, who were subjected to exacting comportment standards and domestic discipline. Coeval with the rise and fall of Korean patrilineal kinship, these texts depict the genealogical subject—emotional self socialized through the structures of prescriptive kinship, but kinship itself is treated as a series of conflicts between genders and generations. This talk will contextualize lineage novels and the domestic world in which they were read within the patrilineal transformation of the Chosŏn society and the emergence of elite vernacular Korean culture, patronaged by elite women. The proliferation of kinship narratives in the Chosŏn period illuminates the changing affective contours of familial bonds and how the domestic space functioned as a site of their everyday experience. Drawing on an archive of women-centered elite vernacular texts, this talk uncovers the structures of feelings and conceptions of selfhood beneath official genealogies and legal statutes, revealing that kinship is as much a textual as a social practice.


Ksenia Chizhova is an Assistant Professor of Korean Literature and Cultural Studies at Princeton University. Her main research interests include history of emotions, family, and writing in Korea, between the late seventeenth and twentieth centuries. Her most recent research project grows out of her continued fascination with vernacular Korean calligraphy and traces the shifts in contexts and infrastructure of graphic media that shaped the visual aesthetics of the Korean script, from the 17th century calligraphic practice to the contemporary fonts and graphic design in the two Koreas.

** New Books in East Asian Literature is a forum to explore issues, concepts, and theories related to the study of East Asian literature. We are not only asking how to study East Asian literature beyond the paradigm of area studies, which originated from and is still often being linked to Cold War politics, but also seeking to look beyond the Euro-centric frame of traditional comparative literature. In other words, how can we decolonize the study of East Asian literature?