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Grant number: FA-58132-15

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FA-58132-15

Timothy Blum Cassedy
Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX 75205)

A History of Linguistic Identity in the U.S. and Britain, 1775-1825

"Language makes the difference between man and man," wrote a bookseller in Philadelphia in 1806. He was far from the only one who thought so. For Britons and Americans at the turn of the nineteenth century, every aspect of pronunciation, vocabulary, and spelling came to seem like a potential basis for determining who was the same and who was different, who belonged and who should be excluded, who was civilized and who was savage. Language, I argue, served as a primary category of identity, paving the way for the much later concept of "culture." LANGUAGE MAKES THE DIFFERENCE is a story about this forgotten episode in the cultural history of linguistic ideas, drawing on discussions of language in newspapers, novels, spelling books, and diaries to show how Britons and Americans used linguistic analysis to make sense of the human diversity within the English-speaking world as well as far beyond it.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
American Literature; British Literature; Cultural History

Program:
Fellowships for University Teachers

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$42,000 (approved)
$42,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2015 – 12/31/2016