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Charles Li

Charles Li

PhD Student in South Asian Studies


Following a BA in Western Society and Culture with a minor in Music from the Liberal Arts College of Concordia University in Montréal, I completed a professional diploma in ébénisterie (fine woodworking) before coming to Cambridge to pursue studies in Sanskrit. My doctoral research is funded by a Cambridge International Scholarship as well as a Doctoral Fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


Subject groups/Research projects

Indian Studies:

Research Interests

My dissertation concerns the Dravyasamuddeśa, a chapter from the Vākyapadīya of Bhartṛhari, a 5th-century Sanskrit treatise on the philosophy of language. I am preparing a critical edition and study of the text along with its 10th-century commentary, the Prakīrṇaprakāśa, of Helārāja. As part of this project, I am developing some software to automatically collate diplomatic transcripts of Sanskrit manuscripts and to present the resulting critical apparatus as an interactive tool that can be customized by the reader.

Complementary to my research on Sanskrit philosophy and philology, I also pursue other lines of inquiry including comparative philosophy, the relationship between philosophy and literature, literature and architecture, and the history and evolution of ideas.


Other Professional Activities

In 2014-2015, I made a short film, funded by the Cambridge Shorts program, about philology, lexicography, and the Buddhist notion of "wisdom". The short premiered at the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse as part of the Cambridge Science Festival in March 2015. It is now available online via the University YouTube channel <>. An article on the making of the film was published in issue 10 of INDIRAN <>.


Key Publications

Sounding out différance: Derrida, Saussure, and Bhartṛhari”. Philosophy East and West 68:4. Hawaii: University of Hawaii, April 2018. Advance online publication on Project MUSE, 17 February 2017. doi:10.1353/pew.0.0128.

Critical Diplomatic Editing: Applying Text-critical Principles as Algorithms”. Advances in Digital Scholarly Editing. Ed. P. Boot et al. Leiden: Sidestone Press, 2017. doi:10.17613/M6NV92.

Schopenhauer’s fictions”. Variaciones Borges 41. Pittsburgh: Borges Center, University of Pittsburgh, May 2016. doi:10.17613/M6SK2W.

Other Publications

Digital critical edition of Bhartṛhari's Dravyasamuddeśa, with the Prakīrṇaprakāśa commentary of Helārāja. 2017. doi:10.52.81/zenodo.1000903. <>.

Descriptive catalogue entries for:

  • MS-ADD-2514.2 “Tattvabodhinī”, MS-ADD-2420 “Gaṅgālaharī”, MS-ADD-2467 “Māghakāvyadurghaṭa”, MS-ADD-919 “Daśarūpakāvaloka”, MS-ADD-2146 “Rājamārtaṇḍa”, MS-OR-102 “Rājavallabha”, MS-OR-730 “Prāsādamaṇḍana”, & MS-OR-822 “Viśvakarmaprakāśa”;

  • MS-ADD-2418 “Ghaṭakarparaṭīkā”, MS-ADD-897 “Bhojavṛtti”, & MS-ADD-2266 “Kumārasambhava” (with D. Cuneo);

  • MS-ADD-2464 “Śābdabodha” & MS-ADD-2514.1 “Laghusiddhāntakaumudī” (with C. Formigatti and D. Cuneo);

Sanskrit Manuscripts Project. University of Cambridge, 2013 – 2014.

Statistical Uncertainty and Epistemological Doubt in the Vākyapadīya”. MPhil thesis. Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge, August 2013.