The article proposes a new definition of philology as a systematic engagement with crises of reading, focused on the difficulties that prevent readers from gaining access to or drawing meaning from a given text, all the way from scrubbed signs to obscure ontologies. Responding to two recent interventions in the field—Philology by James Turner and World Philology by Sheldon Pollock, Benjamin A. Elman, and Ku-ming Kevin Chang—the article explores the practices, history, and current state of philology. It argues that a resurgence of philological self-reflection over the past twelve years is bringing the field into view as a global, transhistorical, and anti-disciplinary practice, spanning many centuries and continents, and encompassing a wealth of methodological tools and approaches. These new developments promise to revitalize a field that currently finds itself in disciplinary disarray, by infusing it with a global and self-critical awareness. But the vision presented by Turner and the editors of World Philology, of philology as an inherently cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural practice, necessitates a clearer delimitation of what philology is, which the present article sets out to provide.

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