Multilingual America

Transnationalism, Ethnicity, and the Languages of American Literature

416 pages

August, 1998

ISBN: 9780814780930

Subjects:

Literary Studies

Author

Werner Sollors is Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature and Professor of Afro-American Studies and Chair of the History of American Civilization Program at Harvard University. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including The Multilingual Anthology of American Literature, Theories of Ethnicity: A Classical Reader, and Multilingual America: Transnationalism, Ethnicity, and the Languages of American Literature, all available from NYU Press.

All books by Werner Sollors

Aside from the occasional controversy over "Official English" campaigns, language remains the blind spot in the debate over multiculturalism. Considering its status as a nation of non-English speaking aborigines and of immigrants with many languages, America exhibits a curious tunnel vision about cultural and literary forms that are not in English. How then have non-English speaking Americans written about their experiences in this country? And what can we learn-about America, immigration and ethnicity-from them?

Arguing that multilingualism is perhaps the most important form of diversity, Multilingual America calls attention to-and seeks to correct-the linguistic parochialism that has defined American literary study. By bringing together essays on important works by, among others, Yiddish, Chinese American, German American, Italian American, Norwegian American, and Spanish American writers, Werner Sollors here presents a fuller view of multilingualism as a historical phenomenon and as an ongoing way of life. At a time when we are just beginning to understand the profound effects of language acquisition on the development of the brain, Multilingual America forces us to broaden what in fact constitutes American literature.

Reviews

  • ”This volume is invaluable and provides essential source as wake-up call for both professionals and general audiences to recognize that American literature is multilingual throughout its history and, if present demographic trends continue, will rapidly become more multicultural.”

    Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development