Traditional East Asian Literary Cultures in Global Perspective: Cosmopolitan and Vernacular in the Sinographic Cosmopolis and Beyond


Thursday, April 14, 2022, 4:30pm to 6:00pm


Online (Zoom)

Wagner Special Lecture

event poster

Ross King
Professor of Korean Language and Literature, University of British Columbia

Ross King is Professor of Korean at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses on the cultural and social history of language, writing, and literary culture in Korea and in the Sinographic Cosmopolis more broadly, with a particular interest in comparative histories of vernacularization. He serves as Editor-in-Chief of Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies, as Managing Editor of the Korean Studies Library (Brill), and as co-editor (with David Lurie and Marion Eggert) of the series “Language, Writing and Literary Culture in the Sinographic Cosmopolis” (also Brill). He is the editor of Cosmopolitan and Vernacular in the World of Wen: Reading Sheldon Pollock from the Sinographic Cosmopolis (forthcoming, Brill) and the author of “I Thank Korea for her Books:” James Scarth Gale, Korean Literature in hanmun, and Allo-metropolitan Missionary Orientalism (forthcoming, University of Toronto Press).

Chaired by Si Nae Park, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University

This lecture introduces my forthcoming edited volume, Cosmopolitan and Vernacular in the World of Wen: Reading Sheldon Pollock from the Sinographic Cosmopolis. The study of traditional East Asian literary cultures from a comparative perspective has been hampered by a pernicious combination of sinocentrism, uncritical notions of script, writing and reading, and modern literary historiographies held hostage by the nation and the vernacular. I begin by challenging the uncritical use of certain terms, and present arguments against what I call “Sphere-speak” and “Sino-speak,” and in favor of “Cosmopolis” and “Sinographic Cosmopolis.” The second half of the talk concerns the reception of Pollock’s conceptualization of cosmopolitan and vernacular beyond south (and southeast) Asia and what he calls the “Sanskrit Cosmopolis,” beginning with a brief discussion of Latinitas, then highlighting recent research on the Persianate and Babylonian cosmopoleis, before concluding with a brief summary of the contributions in our forthcoming volume.

To attend this online event, please register here.

Generously supported by the Edward Willett Wagner Memorial Fund at the Korea Institute, Harvard University