Programs > Academic Programs

Academic Seminars


A Social History of English Grammar in the Early United States


Beth Barton Schweiger

(associate professor of history at the University of Arkansas and AAS-NEH Long-term Fellow)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008, at 4:30 p.m.
Elmarion Room, Goddard-Daniels House
190 Salisbury Street, Worcester, Massachusetts

PRÉCIS: This study recovers the importance of grammar and rhetoric to ordinary people in the early United States. Cheap and ubiquitous, English grammars and rhetorics remade Latin for a vernacular world; they were bearers of tradition in a revolutionary age. A new class of readers, including African Americans and women, put this tradition--the ancient understanding of the study of language as the seat of all learning--to new uses. By mastering "the art of speaking and writing with propriety," ordinary readers learned to exercise knowledge of English grammar as social power in a society that considered words to be deeds.


Refreshments will be provided after the paper, which will be followed by a dutch-treat dinner in Worcester. If you plan to attend, please notify Ann-Cathrine Rapp at AAS no later than Friday, November 14. Email her at, or go to the calendar and electronic registration form.

The Society regrets that it is unable to make refunds after that date.

Reservations are suggested (and deeply appreciated) for attending the seminar. Reservations are required to attend the supper.