Colonizing the Mind: The Library as a Site for Colonial American Identity Formation
Cook, Emily Katherine
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The Library Company of Philadelphia, founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin and his Junto, served as the impetus for society libraries across colonial America. While inspiring ubiquitous learning, the Library Company also reinforced the English language in linguistically diverse Philadelphia. Furthermore, the Company emblematically displayed ownership of a new land and developed an idealized concept of what it meant to be a Pennsylvanian society through their cabinet of curiositiesâ all while cultivating the organizationâ s reputation within the colonial press. The Library Company, therefore, utilized language and material/visual culture to navigate individual and community identity in a decidedly unstructured atmosphereâ the period shortly before the complete onset of American nationalism. The process of â becoming American,â the development of an identity tied to a specific location that emphases class mobility and self creation while also differentiating itself from other societies, is enumerated through the study of these linguistic and cultural manipulations.
- Masters Theses