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Multilingual America: Language and the Making of American Literature (Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture)

Multilingual America: Language and the Making of American Literature (Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture)

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Lawrence Alan Rosenwald
Cambridge University Press, 2008-09-25
EAN 9780521896863, ISBN10: 052189686X

Hardcover, 216 pages, 22.9 x 22.8 x 15.2 cm

Throughout its history, America has been the scene of multiple encounters between communities speaking different languages. Literature has long sought to represent these encounters in various ways, from James Fenimore Cooper's frontier fictions to the Jewish-American writers who popularised Yiddish as a highly influential modern vernacular. While other studies have concentrated on isolated parts of this history, Lawrence Rosenwald's book is the first to consider the whole story of linguistic representation in American literature, and to consider as well how multilingual fictions can be translated and incorporated into a national literary history. He uses case studies to analyse the most important kinds of linguistic encounters, such as those between Europeans and Native Americans, those between slaveholders and African slaves, and those between immigrants and American citizens. This ambitious, engaging book is an important contribution to the study of American literature, history and culture.

'This is a splendid book, unlike any currently in the field, and setting a standard for literary scholarship the rest of us can only aspire to. Lawrence Rosenwald brings to the project an impressive range of languages and a different vision of what we might want to do with texts. His goal is to write a history of American literature showcasing languages as the key players. Multilingual America is an impressive achievement: all Americanists will sit up and pay attention.' Wai Chi Dimock, Yale University