In the American Grain Essay

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In the following essay, Conrad explores how Williams eschews past history-writing techniques to reveal openly "the structural devices by which he constructs the past."

In the American Grain makes history not a matter of events, but a matter of language—or rather, of languages as itself an event. The underlying premise of Williams' book is that a history of America must be, in part, a history of language in America, a study of the tropes and verbal configurations which have historically defined the place. "Studies," in fact, is exactly what Williams terms In the American Grain in the epigraph to his book. Stating that he had not only read "letters," "journals," and "reports of happenings," but had "copied" portions of such "original records" directly into his text, Williams dedicates his work to the task of achieving a verbal archaeology, of excavating "the true character" of his historical...

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This section contains 7,522 words
(approx. 19 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the In the American Grain Study Guide
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In the American Grain from Nonfiction Classics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.