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In short, national identity not only implied specific intuitions and social arrangements, but also an indigenous culture, language, customs, and manners that grew out of specific local geography and circumstances. This was the main reason why the doctor warned against the contamination by European culture. Intriguingly, the ideas about authenticity, national genius and national identity that Channing and his compatriots voiced, were influenced by notions about nationalism that were emerging in Europe.

Connected to the Old World Europe by ties of trade and learning, the Boston elite was well-informed about current developments in European thought and many graduates of Harvard spent one or two years in Europe to complete their studies. Two years before war broke out Dr. Channing had studied in London and Edinburgh where he had mingled with the elites of these two centers of intellectual innovation.


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After the war of , however, many of them avoided England and rather travelled to the European continent. There they absorbed German ideas about linguistics, folklore, history and national culture that were developed by Johann Gottfried von Herder and the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.

In the reviewed lectures Schlegel had assessed the factors that had facilitated the development of dramatic literature in different countries from classical Greece to modern times. His comparison between the level of civilization and refinement of various nations not only discussed the role of language, criticism and taste, but most of all underlined the necessity of superior genius to achieve originality and resist the imitation of classical examples.

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Channing measured the development of his own nation against the standards of authenticity that were established by this romantic theory of national character. His argument bears close resemblance, for instance, to the doctrine of associationism that had been developed in Britain during the eighteenth century, which held that taste depended on the association with national or individual ideas or images.

This meant that aesthetics were not absolute but flourished within a specific national context. This Scottish aesthetic theory could easily be mobilized to argue for a distinctiveness of American cultural expressions that sprung from the specific landscape and historical circumstances of the United States. These are diversified beyond all estimation, by the climate and the various other circumstances which produce them.

These two intellectual developments received urgency and new meaning in the wake of the recent war, which became the cradle of American nationalism. After Walter Channing had sounded the opening shots in the new battle of words in , his intellectual peers around the North American joined his quest of nationality. As if they were working on a collective program, these American intellectuals began to tackle the various questions of American cultural identity in their publications, lectures and addresses, sometimes explicitly, but more often inserted in reviews or other occasional articles.

While they spoke from individual viewpoints and reached different conclusions, the transatlantic relation with the Old World was the dominant basso continuo which provided a common structure for this intellectual debate. Some were merely comparing literary and cultural achievements on American soil with established European standards of taste, as had been done during the first decades after the American Revolution. But more and more they engaged in a discourse about difference that underlined the inherent originality and authenticity of American art as it was grounded in experiences, democratic principles, natural geography and indigenous peoples only to be found in the New World.

Its charm is its nativeness. It is made for home […] A country then must be the former and finisher of its own genius.

Nationalism Destroys Europe—or Does It?

It has, or should have, nothing to do with strangers. When Congress passed its first tariff bill on April 27, to protect indigenous industry against European competition, it had explicitly included books with a duty of 15 percent, only exempting colleges and other scholarly institutes.

After no one less than Thomas Jefferson, in his capacity as president of the University of Virginia, had petitioned for a repeal of that duty on the importation of books, the Senate in flatly refused to budge, citing arguments that seemed lifted from the debate Walter Channing had initiated. The difference was perhaps that he declared the mission of cultural independence accomplished. In a sense, the quest for nationality that marked the first decades after was a continuation of that same war against the Old World by cultural means.

After all, the American cultural nationalism that was propagated and negotiated after emerged from a struggle against a European culture that was now felt to be hegemonial and menacing. Just as Europeans after the Second World War began to define their own cultural achievements and national identities in opposition to an almost irresistible American imperialism of popular culture and consumerism, early Americans had done the reverse after the War of And in both cases the cultural realignments followed fundamental shifts in international relations after a major war.

The domestic political power struggle that ended in an Era of Good Feelings, economic prosperity and territorial expansion all contributed to the upsurge of nationalism. At the same time sectionalism and the debate over slavery threatened national unity. Also, new ideas about national culture and romanticism broadened and changed the definitions of nationality which now included the arts, science and culture as areas of national pride.

Yet the outcome of the war fostered a westward-orientated isolationism and turned the United States against European cultural and territorial aspirations. Edwards, J. Esteve, J. Fishman, J. Skutnabb-Kangas and R. Gellner, E. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Grillo, R. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Grin, F. Skutnabb-Kangas, and R. Hall, S. Cambridge: Polity Press. Held, D. Hinsley, F. Hoffmann, C. Smith and S. Wright eds Whose Europe?

The Rise of Nationalism in Europe class 10 (Part 1),The French Revolution and The Idea of Nation

Jones, B. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Keating, M.

Language and Nationalism in Europe | Oxford University Press

London: Macmillan Press. Richardson ed. Kloss, H. Rowley, MA: Newbury House. Kymlicka, W. Labrie, N. May, S. Smith, and S. London and New York: Longman. McCrone, D.


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Miller, H. He is the author of many authoritative studies on the relations between literature, historical consciousness and nationalism. EN NL.

Language and Nationalism in Europe

ISBN Binding Hardback. Number of pages Publication date 07 - 03 - Category Modern Period.

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Discipline History.