Constituting a sense of "American" identity and place through language and literary study: A curriculum history, 1898-1912

Jory Brass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


This article examines constructions of "American" identity and place in the first influential guides for English teaching published in the United States at the cusp of the 20th Century. It recovers how English teaching was to weaken youths' ties to more immediate people and places and to reorient their sense of self, others and the world around imagined communities that differentiated America/Americans from uncivilised, irrational and illiterate "others". Language and literature were directed to reorder thought, inculcate the spirit of peoples and places, and locate individuals, races and nations temporally and spatially in sacred-secular redemption narratives. The study historicises practices of English teaching that have inscribed people and places within a religion-science-nation-West horizon, constituting distinctive experiences of sameness/difference, nationalism, and place that have spanned more than a century of English teaching.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-57
Number of pages17
JournalEnglish Teaching
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 13 2013



  • Curriculum history
  • English teaching
  • Imagined communities
  • Nation-building
  • Place

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this