Barbara Cassin: Sophistical Reading

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Although best known to English-speaking readers as the general editor of the 'Dictionary of Untranslatables', the work of the French philologist and philosopher Barbara Cassin is eclectic, encompassing literary studies, ancient philosophy, rhetoric, translation theory, psychoanalysis, and politics. From Presocratic philosophy to more recent reflections on Big Tech and democracy, Cassin’s work is rooted in ‘sophistics’, an approach that emphasises the primacy of language in shaping our interactions with the world. Situating this sophistical approach vis-à-vis classical philology (Jean Bollack) and the philosophical tradition (Heidegger, Derrida), this article explores the contribution of ‘sophistical reading’ to our interpretation of philosophical and literary texts. Showing how Cassin uses rhetorical theory to problematize conventional oppositions of the latter, the article also includes a close analysis and critical evaluation of Cassin’s reading of Euripides’ most sophistical play: 'Helen'.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jul 2022

Structured keywords

  • Institute of Greece, Rome, and the Classical Tradition


  • French Philosophy
  • Rhetoric
  • philology
  • Barbara Cassin
  • Euripides


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