American Languages: Indians, Ethnology, and the Empire for Liberty


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


U.S. History


"American Languages" examines the widespread study of Native American languages in the late eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth centuries. The project is at once a delineation of linguistic ideas and debates as well as an investigation into both the ideological motivations behind philological studies and the practical functions that such studies served in formulating American policy. The study of Indian languages in the United States—by whites and by Natives, in the interactions that produced linguistic knowledge, and in the philological representations that resulted from them—was inextricably intertwined with the development of a specialized discipline of anthropology and with attempts to create a national identity and to consolidate and extend a republican empire.