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Accented America : the cultural politics of multilingual modernism

Author: Joshua Miller
Publisher: Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2011
Series: Modernist literature & culture
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Accented America is a sweeping study of U.S. literature between 1890-1950 that reveals a long history of English-Only nationalism: the political claim that U.S. citizens must speak a nationally distinctive form of English. This perspective presents U.S. literary works written between the 1890s and 1940s as playfully, painfully, and ambivalently engaged with language politics, thereby rewiring both narrative form and  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Criticism, interpretation, etc
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Joshua Miller
ISBN: 9780195336993 0195336992 9780195337006 019533700X
OCLC Number: 769072731
Notes: Every kind of mixing. Reinventing vox Americana. Documenting "American". Foreignizing "English". Vernacularizing silence. Translating "Englitch". Spanglicizing modernism. Say something American if you dare
Description: xv, 414 s. : ill. ; 24 cm
Contents: Every kind of mixing --
Reinventing vox Americana --
Documenting "American". Foreignizing "English". Vernacularizing silence --
Translating "Englitch". Spanglicizing modernism --
Say something American if you dare.
Series Title: Modernist literature & culture
Responsibility: Joshua L. Miller

Abstract:

Accented America is a sweeping study of U.S. literature between 1890-1950 that reveals a long history of English-Only nationalism: the political claim that U.S. citizens must speak a nationally distinctive form of English. This perspective presents U.S. literary works written between the 1890s and 1940s as playfully, painfully, and ambivalently engaged with language politics, thereby rewiring both narrative form and national identity. The United States has always been a densely polyglot nation, but efforts to prove the existence of a nationally specific form of English turn out to be a development of particular importance to interwar modernism. If the concept of a singular, coherent, and autonomous 'American language' seemed merely provocative or ironic in 1919 when H.L. Mencken emblazoned the phrase on his philological study, within a short period of time it would come to seem simultaneously obvious and impossible. Considering the continuing presence of fierce public debates over U.S. English and domestic multilingualisms demonstrates the symbolic and material implications of such debates in naturalization and citizenship law, presidential rhetoric, academic language studies, and the artistic renderings of novelists. Against the backdrop of the period's massive demographic changes, Accented America brings a broadly multi-ethnic set of writers into conversation, including Gertrude Stein, Jean Toomer, Henry Roth, Nella Larsen, John Dos Passos, Lionel Trilling, Americo Paredes, and Carlos Bulosan. These authors shared an acute sense of linguistic standardization during the interwar era and contend with the defamiliarizing sway of radical experimentation with invented and improper literary vernaculars. Mixing languages, these authors spurn expectations for phonological exactitude to develop multilingual literary aesthetics. Rather than confirming the powerfully seductive subtext of monolingualism-that those who speak

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this book is absolutely indispensable for any future consideration of how the experimental languages of American modernism negotiated and helped shape the complex language politics of the early Read more...

 
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