February 8, 2001 – Sheldon Pollock: “Cosmopolitanism and the Vernacular”

Thursday, February 8| Oakes Mural Room | 4:00 PM

Reading:“Cosmopolitan and Vernacular in History,” from Public Culture 12.3 (2000)

Sheldon Pollock is George V. Bobrinskoy Professor of Sanskrit and Indic Studies at the University of Chicago. His work over the past ten years has sought to illuminate the relationship between culture and polity in precapitalist South Asia. His nearly complete book on this subject–The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit and Power in India to 1500— is forthcoming from UC Press. These same concerns motivated a seven-year collaborative research project Professor Pollock just concluded with seventeen scholars from India, Europe, and the US on Literary Cultures in History (in press). His next project addresses the state of Indian learning on the threshold of western modernity; the first component is a small cooperative initiative among eight scholars from Europe and the US called Sanskrit Knowledge Systems on the Eve of Colonialism(1550-1750), and is expected to run from 2001-2004. Professor Pollock’s work on Indian literary and vernacular cultures s is central to an understanding of global literacy and vernacularization, and has been of great importance to scholars both within and without South Asian Studies.