Peter King Part of SSHRC-Funded “Practices of Commentary” Project

Published: July 6, 2020

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Peter King is an active contributor to a new five-year SSHRC Insight Grant project on the topic of “Practices of Commentary” centred at the University of Toronto (2020–2025).

The project’s primary goal is to set new research agendas for the longue durée of an interpretive mode that has been used in a diversity of cultures, has never ceased to shape opinions and worldviews, and continues to serve as a prime site for the perpetuation and innovation—and, sometimes, willful distortion—of knowledge, as seen in social media-infused digital spaces. The project seeks to develop a global perspective on practices of commentary, de-siloing regionally focused work while simultaneously offering fine-grained and nuanced accounts of the function of commentary in cultures and communities of the premodern world. This project thus has a global scope, bringing together both senior and junior scholars with expertise in various European, Near Eastern, and South and East Asian traditions to debate the theory and practice of commenting and commentary in humanistic studies today.


This project grew out of a reading group hosted at the Jackman Humanities Institute, begun in 2017. Led by Professors Walid Saleh (Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations), Amanda Goodman (Study of Religion, East Asian Studies), Jeannie Miller (Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations), and Markus Stock (Germanic Languages and Literatures), and with the active participation and support of Suzanne Akbari (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton), the project unites participants from many further humanities departments at the University of Toronto, including Classics, English, Philosophy, and the Centre for Medieval Studies. It also brings together world-leading scholars from Carleton University, McMaster University, the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, the Goethe University Frankfurt, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Needham Research Institute, and the National University of Singapore.

Participants hope that the grant’s collaborations, and in particular the students and other early-career scholars who will participate in it, will bring about a transformation and develop a deep comparative background to their individual disciplines.