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On-cho Ng

On-cho Ng

Head of the Asian Studies Department

Professor of History, Asian Studies and Philosophy

102 Old Botany Building
Office Phone: (814) 867-2910

Curriculum Vitae

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  1. PhD, University of Hawaii, 1986
  2. MPhil, University of Hong Kong, 1981
  3. BA, University of Hong Kong, 1975


I specialize in the intellectual history of late imperial China. With abiding interests in Confucianism as a dynamic and multifaceted tradition, my work is situated at the intersection of various fields: history, philosophy and religious studies. Apart from Cheng-Zhu Confucianism in the Early Qing: Li Guangdi and Qing Learning (2001), and Mirroring the Past: The Writing and Use of History in Imperial China (2005), I have edited several volumes, and published scores of book chapters and articles in a variety of major academic periodicals, including Journal of the History of IdeasJournal of Chinese ReligionsPhilosophy East and WestJournal of Chinese Philosophy and Journal of World History.

I am completing a book on the jinwen (New Script) classical commentaries in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century China. While the work is primarily an investigation of the distinct hermeneutical disciplines and philosophical concerns of a Confucian exegetical tradition, it also explores the interpretive possibilities opened up by contemporary Western theories of reading and understanding.

Here at Penn State, I direct the Asian Studies Program. I also work with various academic publishers and organizations in multiple editorial and administrative capacities. I am co-editor of the book series on ‘History of Chinese Thought,’ National University of Taiwan Press. I serve as Associate Editor and Book Review Editor with the Journal of Chinese Philosophy, and sit on the editorial board of Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy.  I am a member of the Steering Committee of both the ‘Confucian Tradition Group’ and ‘Religions in Chinese and Indian Cultures: A Comparative Perspective Consultation Group’ of the American Academy of Religion. For a decade, I have chaired the University Seminar on Neo-Confucianism at Columbia University.

Recent Publications:

“Representations of Kongzi as the ‘Uncrowned King’ (suwang) in some Qing Exegeses.” In Paul Golding, ed., A concise Companion to Confucius. London & Malden MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017. Pp. 286-304.

“Thinking Across Cultures: Western Hermeneutics and Chinese Exegesis.” In Bruce B. Janz, ed., Place, Space and Hermeneutics. Dordrecht and New York: Springer Publishing, 2017. Pp. 519-531.

“Intellectual Trends in Late Imperial China.” In Tim Wright, ed., Oxford Bibliographies in Chinese Studies. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

“Enshrining the Past in the Present: Moral Agency and Humanistic History.” In Chün-chieh Huang and Jörn Rüsen, eds., Chinese Historical Thinking: An Intercultural Dialogue. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht/Taipei: National Taiwan University Press 2015. Pp. 159-170.

“The Commentarial Tradition.” With John Henderson. In Amy Olberding, ed., Dao Companion to the Analects. Dordrecht and New York: Springer Publishing, 2014. Pp. 37-54.

“Private Historical Writing in Late Imperial China.” In Daniel Woolf, Jose Rabasa, Edoardo Tortarolo, and Masayuki Sato, eds., The Oxford History of Historical Writing, Vol. 3. Oxford and London: Oxford University Press, 2012. Pp. 60-79.

“Li Guangdi and the Philosophy of Human Nature.” In John Makeham, ed., Dao Companion to Neo-Confucian Philosophy. Dordrecht and New York: Springer Publishing, 2010. Pp. 381-398.


Awards and Service:

Co-editor of book series, ‘History of Chinese Thought,’ National University of Taiwan Press (2009 - present)
Associate Editor and Book Review Editor of the Journal of Chinese Philosophy (2001 - present)
Visiting Fellow, Research Centre for Chinese Philosophy and Culture, Chinese University of Hong Kong (2006)
Visiting Professor, City University of Hong Kong (2005)

Recent Courses:

HIST 580 - Pre-Modern China

HIST 585 – Culture and Society in Late Imperial China

RLST - Introduction to Chinese and Japanese Religions

HIST 175 - Modern East Asia


    Research Interests:

    Intellectual history of Late Imperial China, from sixteenth to early nineteenth century; Confucian and comparative hermeneutics; Confucian religiosity; Chinese historiography