History, Language, and Culture
This chapter begins with a discussion of the New Cultural History, a movement commonly described as history's response to the growing influence of radical, continental conceptions of language. It argues that cultural history's reception of French structural linguistics and post-structuralism was shaped by earlier linguistic turns in American anthropology and analytic philosophy. It notes that language, along with culture, perhaps the most important keyword of the human sciences in the twentieth century, had a lengthy history in North America, where academic and popular studies of linguistics were strongly formed by ethnographic encounters with racial difference. It discusses that some of the most radical renditions of language came not from the deconstructive inclinations of literary critics but from analytical philosophy's encounters with popular anthropology. As a result, when historians began to borrow idioms and phrases from anthropology, they entered a semantic field in which language, art, and racial difference had grown tightly together.
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