[skip to content]

Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia

Mr Alastair Ewan Macdonald


Alastair Ewan Macdonald
Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia

PhD Student

Mr Alastair Ewan Macdonald
Email address:
Thesis title:
A new direction in the vernacular short story: interactions between “popular” and elite culture in Paian jingqi.
Internal Supervisors


I was born and grew up near Inverness, and have spent the years since floating more or less southwards. The first stop on this geographically downward trajectory was Edinburgh University, where I spent my time in a state of terminal confusion over whether I was studying Japanese or Chinese. Four years and two stints of studying abroad (two months in Taipei's MTC and one year at Doshisha University in Kyoto) later, I graduated in Japanese and therefore decided to go straight back to Taiwan.  This time I stayed for a full year, thanks to a BACS/MOE scholarship, and it was here that I my interest in late-Imperial vernacular literature was inspired through semesters spent studying Honglou Meng and Jinpingmei. On my return I moved south again, irresistibly drawn to the bright lights of Huddersfield, where I worked as a freelance translator. Most of my time was spent translating entries in a new Chinese-English dictionary to be published by HarperCollins, though I was also lucky enough to gain unique insights into the fascinating world of Chinese software manuals.  All that unremitting glamour and excitement did eventually wear thin, however, and I then came to SOAS to pursue an MA in Translation Studies.  My interest in vernacular literature had deepened since coming back from Taiwan, and my final MA project was a translation of one of Ling Mengchu's short stories.  This translation project led directly onto my current research topic.


My research focuses on Ling Mengchu's Paianjingqi collections, and examines the ways in which Ling has adopted certain stylistic and plot features designed to give the works a greater degree of 'popular' appeal and combined them with more traditional literati cultural mores.