restricted access Cosmopolitan English & Transliteracy by Xiaoye You (review)
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Xiaoye You. Cosmopolitan English & Transliteracy. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2016. 284 pp.

Many of the criticisms surrounding translingual perspectives in writing studies have centered on usefulness and intention. While adopting a translingual approach to academic writing challenges dominant monolingual ideologies about English writing, examples of practice have been necessary. A more political critique of translingualism examines whether or not adopting translingual perspectives may align with neoliberal, product oriented purposes for economic gain. In his book Cosmopolitan English and Transliteracy, Xiaoye You uses these claims as a starting point to ask: "How do we understand meaning making in a local-global context? What is our moral obligation in globalization? The answer to these questions is embedded in an understanding of language practice that he calls Cosmopolitan English (CE). The book is broken up into eight chapters, in addition to a preface and conclusion, which provide several examples of language practices and pedagogies in multiple modalities. Chapters 1 through 4 establish the ethical, social, and literary implications that a CE perspective may offer, while Chapters 5 through 8 offer examples of pedagogical practice.

Chapter 1, "Cosmopolitanism and the Future of Writing Studies," introduces a conceptual framework for CE based on two different philosophical traditions. In this chapter, You argues that people do not need to be separated by differences imposed by ideology if they act in a way that is considerate to others, and if they develop practices that are sensitive to difference. Taking his argument a step further, You bridges the Confucian concept 四海之内皆兄弟: "all men are brothers" with the Greek concept kosmopolitês, introduced by Diogenes the Cynic and bolstered by the Stoics. Connecting to the Greek paradigm, You, drawing on David Held, explains "Allegiance is owed, first and foremost, to the moral realm of all humanity, not to the contingent groupings of nations, ethnicity, and class" (7). The shared connection between Confucian (四海之内皆兄弟) and Greek (kosmopolitês) concepts [End Page 278] provides a historically relevant example, from the bedrock of both traditions, into how people might relate to one another despite their differences.

To create a case for CE, in the second chapter, "Arts of Dwelling Place," You provides specific examples of ethos as dwelling place and moral character by analyzing the discussions of an online study group interested in the Start with Simple Stories (SSS) method of communicating in English. The online message board, started by Professor Akio Furukowa in 2002, was examined by You to show how an "English using community deals with conflicts and tensions arising in cultural encounters and how the cultural entanglement leads to cultural synthesis" (38)—a reality of the contact zone that is not emphasized in contact zone theory or contrastive rhetoric. These constructs only emphasize the clash between cultures or the transfer of textual choices that writers from non-English dominant countries make when they write in English. Through his analysis of this online message board, You was able to identify the way that members' use of code-meshing gives way to cultural synthesis, too. As he explains, "In the case of the SSS community, English has deeply percolated local practices, mediating the construction of a virtual dwelling place" (55), one in which a new culture has formed. In a similar way, in Chapter 3, "Linguistic Creativity in the Diaspora," You examines the multimodal exchanges between Chinese white-collar workers on the 21st Century Community Forum, a platform offered by 21st Century Newspapers in China. An examination of these narratives shows the fluidity of language practice among these multilingual language users. While English is the dominant language on the forum, it does not adhere to fixed or predictable features that are often associated with nation-based understandings of English practice, such as Chinese English.

Providing a critique of and contribution to Braj Kachru's previous work on bilingual creativity, Chapter 4, "Transliterate Creativity in the Literature of Globalization," explores multilingual writers' use of creativity through a cosmopolitan lens. To do this, You offers a transliterate examination of three texts: Raja Rao's Kanthapura; Xiaolu Guo's A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers; and Sapphire's Push. Connecting literary studies to writing studies provides an additional layer of...