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This study explores the complex role of language as an instrument of empire in eighteenth-century British literature. Focusing on the relationship between England and one of its "Celtic colonies," Scotland, Janet Sorensen examines how the expansion of the British empire influenced the formation of a national standard English. The book demonstrates the ambivalence at the heart of British linguistic identity, moving from a close analysis of Scottish writers Alexander MacDonald, Adam Smith, Hugh Blair, and Tobias Smollett to a revised understanding of the language use of Samuel Johnson and Jane Austen.Read more
- Builds on recent studies in nationalism, colonial discourse and post-colonial theory through close analysis of language in eighteenth-century British literature
- Contributes to studies in Scottish literature and culture
- Broad appeal: Eighteenth-century literature and language, Anglo-Scottish studies and the theoretical study of cultural nationalism
Reviews & endorsements
"...a well-researched and intellectually adroit study...Sorensen's book presents a crucial realignment of the relation of Scottish Studies to the study of English Literature in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries." SiRSee more reviews
"...the entire study offers original insight into the processes by which language and identity interact...Sorensen combines entertaining examples with rigorous scholarship to demonstrate how Gaelic became the language of English nationalism...these accomplishments distinguish Sorensen's study as one of the broadest in scope and best informed of recent investigations into the function of Austen's work in the empire, and of the function of the empire in Austen." JASNA News
"The Grammar of Empire is a substantial addition to current discussion of the generative role of Scottish writing in the production of British national identity. It is an ambitious book..." Eighteenth-Century Scotland
"The Grammar of Empire is well positioned to generate discussion in the years to come." Albion
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- Date Published: November 2005
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521021555
- length: 332 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
- weight: 0.49kg
- contains: 5 b/w illus.
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. Scripting identity?: English language and literacy instruction in the Highlands and the strange case of Alexander MacDonald
2. 'A grammarians regard to the genius of our tongue': Johnson's Dictionary, imperial grammar and the customary national language
3. Women, Celts and hollow voices: Tobias Smollett's brokering of Anglo-British linguistic identities
4. The figure of the nation: polite language and its originary other in Adam Smith's and Hugh Blair's Lectures in Rhetoric and Belles Lettres
5. 'A translator without originals': William Shaw's Scots Gaelic and the dialectic of (linguistic) empire
Epilogue: Jane Austen's language and the strangeness at home in the center.
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