Public Program- Jill Lepore

Lectures and Performances
Tuesday, April 16, 2002 - 7:30pm

A Nue Merrykin Dikshunary: Inventing an American Language
An illustrated lecture by Jill Lepore

title slide of Lepore's slideshow
"A national language is a national tie," Noah Webster declared in 1786, "and what country wants it more than America?" From its founding, the United States has reckoned with a vexing paradox: ours is a nation founded on universal principles. What, then, makes us a nation? Noah Webster thought a national language might help tie Americans together. But many of his contemporaries, from the Cherokee linguist Sequoyah to the deaf educator Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet to the freed Muslim slave Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima, thought differently.

In a slide lecture, Jill Lepore will tell the story of how early Americans wrestled with the problem of a national language. This lecture is based upon Jill Lepore's latest book, A is for American, published this past February by Alfred A. Knopf.

A native of Worcester, Jill Lepore is currently an assistant professor of history at Boston University. She is the author of The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity, which won the Bancroft Prize, Phi Beta Kappa's Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, and the New England Historical Association's Book Award. With Jane Kamensky she founded Commonplace, an online history magazine sponsored by AAS and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

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