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The Birth of American Monolingualism out of the Conflicts with Germany

By the mid-nineteenth century, German-Americans were the largest ethnic group in the United States—a status they hold to this day. By 1915, “German-American” was also the first “hyphenated” identity to come under suspicion of disloyalty by the United States government. Historians have considered this moment the turning point when the United States first became such a notoriously monolingual country, where the pressure to speak only English was so prevalent. This talk will examine these developments by looking to the impact of the two World Wars on the writing, publishing, and translation practices among German-speaking intellectuals who lived and worked in the United States. Authors who had written in German for German-speaking American readers (like Sylvester Viereck and Hugo Münsterberg) generally stopped doing so after 1915. While the Holocaust did even more to impugn the status of the German language in the United States, German-speaking immigrants fleeing the Nazis had advantageous translation and publishing opportunities, but experienced even more pressure than previous generations to publish only in English. The talk will discuss several moments in this geographic and linguistic translation history with a focus on the content and publishing practices of German-American intellectuals writing over the tumultuous course of the twentieth century.

BIO: Spencer Hawkins is a research assistant in Translation Studies at the University of Mainz, Germersheim. He has a doctorate in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is the translator of The Laughter of the Thracian Woman by Hans Blumenberg (Bloomsbury 2015) and is currently completing a translation theory monograph, titled Our German Unconscious.


Zeit: Donnerstag, 24.10.2019, 17:30 Uhr

Ort: Institut für Translationswissenschaft, SU 0.008, Merangasse 70, EG

Web: tinyurl.com/trans-konflikt

Studierende dolmetschen zu Übungszwecken



Eine Vortragsreihe des Instituts für Translationswissenschaft organisiert von Philipp Hofeneder und Rafael Schögler.

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