Material Languages: A Cultural History of Spanish in the United States


Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars




For residence at the Huntington Library


This study retraces changing perceptions of the Spanish language—and of Spanish speakers as an ethnoracial community—alongside the development of a distinctively Latino social presence and cultural expression in the US Although most Americans see the conflict between English and Spanish as a contemporary issue, its history extends from the colonial and early national periods. Using material evidence such as grammars, phrasebooks, anthologies, newspapers and diaries dating from those periods through the mid-twentieth century, I describe a complex attitude of Anglophone attraction and repulsion toward Spanish, and argue that the social conditions of the two languages have evolved together in a climate of mutual influence.