Reading Group

Asia Translating Reading Group

Friday, Sept. 28, 12:00-1:30pm

117 Wilson Hall

Moderator: Gustav Heldt

Interlocutor: Richard Cohen

The inaugural meeting of the Asia Translating reading group (all are welcome!) will take up two articles that are intended to orient us historically through a consideration of how the concept of the cosmopolitan has been articulated in a premodern Asian context. The first reading is Sheldon Pollock’s “The Cosmopolitan Vernacular” which focuses on the elaboration of a Sanskrit cosmopolis and attendant vernaculars in the Common Era. The second article is Ross King’s “Ditching Diglossia: Ecologies of the Spoken and Inscribed in Pre-modern Korea” which provides a response to Pollock’s ideas in a premodern East Asian context.  Some possible issues to consider are: the place of translation in the cosmopolis, the peculiar role of the literary in articulating a vernacular, and the connection of these cosmopolitan formations with politics and religion. Discussion is not by any means meant to be limited to these topics. We welcome any and all responses to the readings that consider how they might intersect with a broader concept of “Asian Cosmopolitanisms.”

We will be providing lunch—to RSVP and to receive PDFs of the readings, please email Charles Laughlin ( by Friday, Sept. 21.