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A Peculiar Mixture

German-Language Cultures and Identities in Eighteenth-Century North America

Edited by Jan Stievermann and Oliver Scheiding

Publication Year: 2013

Through innovative interdisciplinary methodologies and fresh avenues of inquiry, the nine essays collected in A Peculiar Mixture endeavor to transform how we understand the bewildering multiplicity and complexity that characterized the experience of German-speaking people in the middle colonies. They explore how the various cultural expressions of German-speakers helped them to bridge regional, religious and denominational divides, to develop a new sense of ethnic solidarity and, eventually, a national identity. Instead of thinking about early American culture and literature as evolving continuously as a singular entity, the contributions to this volume conceive of it as an ever shifting and tangled “web of contact zones.” They present a society with a plurality of different native and colonial cultures interacting not only with each other, but also with cultures and traditions from outside the colonies, in a “peculiar mixture” of Old World practices and New World influences. Aside from the editors, the contributors are Rosalind J. Beiler, Patrick Erben, Cynthia G. Falk, Marie Basile McDaniel, Philip Otterness, Liam Riordan, Matthias Schönhofer, and Marianne Wokeck.

Published by: Penn State University Press

Series: Max Kade German-American Research Institute

Cover Front

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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-8

The conference from which this collection of essays grew was made possible by the support of the German Research Foundation (DFG), the American Embassy in cooperation with the German Association for American Studies (DGfA), the University of Mainz, the Ministry of Education of the Rhineland-Palatinate, ...

Map: Germanic Cultural Presence in Early America c. 1830

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pp. viii-9

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pp. 1-20

Hoping to pique the curiosity of potential buyers, the anonymous editor of Gottlieb Mittelberger’s travel account, Journey to Pennsylvania, highlighted in 1756 some of the issues that occupy scholars in the discipline of early American studies today. For quite some time now, deepened attention has been given to the ethnic and religious diversity of the peoples ...

Part I: Migration and Settlement

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pp. 21-22

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Chapter 1: Rethinking the Significance of the 1709 Mass Migration

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pp. 23-42

The commemoration of the three hundredth anniversary of the 1709 mass migration from the Palatinate and other German-speaking territories has offered an opportunity for rethinking the significance of this event. In the early eighteenth century, this westward movement of German speakers received much attention and captured the imagination of many emigrants ...

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Chapter 2: Information Brokers and Mediators: The Role of Diplomats in the Migration of German-Speaking People, 1709–1711

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pp. 43-57

In the spring and summer of 1709, James Dayrolle, the British resident at the Hague, negotiated the movement of thousands of people from the Rhineland to London. Seeking relief from wars, crop failures, and poverty and lured by propaganda about opportunities in the colonies, between ten and fifteen thousand German-speaking people left their homes to resettle in the British Empire. ...

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Chapter 3: The Palatine Immigrants of 1710 and the Native Americans

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pp. 58-82

In June 1710, a convoy of ships carrying three thousand German-speaking immigrants arrived in New York City. The new arrivals came ashore with a strong vision of America as a promised land, a place where they could enjoy the earth’s bounty and live prosperous and secure lives. They soon discovered that realizing this vision meant finding allies ...

Part II: Material and Intellectual Cultures in the Making

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pp. 83-84

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Chapter 4: Of Dwelling Houses, Painted Chests, and Stove Plates: What Material Culture Tells Us About the Palatines in Early New York

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pp. 85-116

Much of what is known about the Palatines in New York comes from written sources, and many of these documents were authored not by members of the immigrant group but by others who observed or interacted with them. As this essay will demonstrate, the examination of material culture, in addition to textual sources, can contribute significantly to a better understanding ...

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Chapter 5: (Re)Discovering the German-Language Literature of Colonial America

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pp. 117-149

In a 2004 editor’s column in the journal Early American Literature, David Shields commented on the paucity of scholarship on the German-language literature of colonial America: “I was put in mind of the strangest inadequacy in the understanding of early American literary culture: the lack of comment about the eighteenth-century Germans ...

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Chapter 6: “Runs, Creeks, and Rivers Join”: The Correspondence Network of Gotthilf Henry Ernst Mühlenberg

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pp. 150-180

Despite his famous family name and his great accomplishments as a botanist, almost no one today remembers Gotthilf Henry Ernst Mühlenberg (1753–1815). While his contributions to early American botany once enjoyed some scholarly notice,1 his extensive transatlantic correspondence has thus far eluded historians. ...

Part III: Negotiations of Ethnic and Religious Identities

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pp. 181-182

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Chapter 7: Divergent Paths: Processes of Identity Formation Among German Speakers, 1730–1760

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pp. 183-208

On May 27, 1743, Jacob Kimmerlin married Sarah Lewis in Philadelphia’s First Presbyterian Church.1 The remaining records of that church contain no other mention of Jacob Kimmerlin, Sarah Lewis, or any Kimmerlin in the name’s variant spellings. They did not appear as parents in the lists of those baptized or as sponsors for other baptisms, ...

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Chapter 8: Defining the Limits of American Liberty: Pennsylvania’s German Peace Churches During the Revolution

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pp. 207-245

Scholars have long ignored the experience of Pennsylvania’s German Peace Churches during the American Revolution. The few who have examined these groups have tended to view them through the interpretative lens of loyalism.1 Following the lead of angry Patriots, historians have regarded the Mennonites, Amish, Brethren (Dunkers), Schwenkfelders, ...

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Chapter 9: Pennsylvania German Taufscheine and Revolutionary America: Cultural History and Interpreting Identity

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pp. 246-274

The emergence of cultural history as a means for reassessing the past provides untapped opportunities for early American Pennsylvania German specialists to position themselves and their subjects at the center of scholarly debate about the broad revolutionary era. The relatively recent embrace of “culture” as itself a causal force that constitutes reality ...

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List of Contributors

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pp. 275-278

Rosalind J. Beiler is Associate Professor of History at the University of Central Florida. She works on the German-speaking Atlantic world in the early modern period. Her publications include Immigrant and Entrepreneur: The Atlantic World of Caspar Wistar, 1650–1750 (2008) and articles about migration in early modern Europe and to the British colonies. ...


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pp. 279-284

Cover Back

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pp. 294-294

E-ISBN-13: 9780271061061
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271059495
Print-ISBN-10: 0271059494

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 22
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Max Kade German-American Research Institute
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OCLC Number: 849936696
MUSE Marc Record: Download for A Peculiar Mixture

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Subject Headings

  • Germans -- North America -- History -- 18th century.
  • Germans -- North America -- Ethnic identity.
  • German Americans -- History -- 18th century.
  • German Americans -- Ethnic identity.
  • North America -- Emigration and immigration -- History -- 18th century.
  • Germany -- Emigration and immigration -- History -- 18th century.
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