Strange Talk

Strange Talk

by Gavin Jones, Gavin Roger Jones
     
 


Late-nineteenth-century America was crazy about dialect: vernacular varieties of American English entertained mass audiences in "local color" stories, in realist novels, and in poems and plays. But dialect was also at the heart of anxious debates about the moral degeneration of urban life, the ethnic impact of foreign immigration, the black presence in white…  See more details below

Overview


Late-nineteenth-century America was crazy about dialect: vernacular varieties of American English entertained mass audiences in "local color" stories, in realist novels, and in poems and plays. But dialect was also at the heart of anxious debates about the moral degeneration of urban life, the ethnic impact of foreign immigration, the black presence in white society, and the female influence on masculine authority. Celebrations of the rustic raciness in American vernacular were undercut by fears that dialect was a force of cultural dissolution with the power to contaminate the dominant language.

In this volume, Gavin Jones explores the aesthetic politics of this neglected "cult of the vernacular" in little-known regionalists such as George Washington Cable, in the canonical work of Mark Twain, Henry James, Herman Melville, and Stephen Crane, and in the ethnic writing of Abraham Cahan and Paul Laurence Dunbar. He reveals the origins of a trend that deepened in subsequent literature: the use of minority dialect to formulate a political response to racial oppression, and to enrich diverse depictions of a multicultural nation.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780520214217
Publisher:
University of California Press
Publication date:
10/01/1999
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
490,797
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author


Gavin Jones is Assistant Professor of English at Stanford University.

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