Law’s Expressions: Narrative and Rhetorical Strategies in Ming and Joseon Legal Judgments


Luce/ACLS Early Career Fellowships in China Studies – Long-Term


International Literary and Cultural Studies


This project analyzes narrative and rhetorical features of Chinese Ming dynasty (1368-1644) legal judgments and compares them to judgments from Joseon Korea (1392-1910). Previous studies on East Asian jurisprudence have examined the ways in which Joseon law was developed through reception and adaptation of Ming law. However, the application of the law to actual cases diverged among Chinese and Korean judges, and Ming and Joseon legal judgments took on distinctive features. By focusing on the narrative and rhetorical strategies that are found in these judgments, this project analyzes the relationship and tensions between formal law (codes, statutes, edicts, etc.), legal philosophy, and judicial decisions.