This essay introduces the American Comparative Literature Association Forum “Vernacular Comparisons beyond the Europhone.” Characterizing the Europhone “vernacular” as a protean term of diverse application, the essay highlights the paradoxes associated with its use in Global Southern contexts. Drawing attention to the asymmetries of conceptual exchange that accompany vernacular comparisons across former colonial contexts, this essay raises the following questions: How might we explore and move beyond the insufficiencies of the Europhone term “vernacular” to frame non-Europhone literatures and literary histories? If we displace Europhone terms of analysis as conceptual categories, what alternatives emerge in their stead from non-European languages, lineages, and source materials? In pursuing lateral comparisons within the Global South, how can the risks of anachronism, distortion, and incommensurability be managed across disparate contexts? This introduction offers an overview of the contributing essays and concludes with remarks on the advantages and drawbacks of employing the term “vernacular” in pursuing South-South comparisons.

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