The founding of the United States brought with it many conceptions of Englishness, among them the historical connection to an Anglo-Saxon past. To explain the importance of Anglo-Saxonism in the American nineteenth century, Modarelli argues that the northern American states, mostly under the influence of German Romanticism, looked back to the northern Saxons as a mythical origin of American culture, while the southern states, spurred in part by Walter Scott’s popular reversal of the Norman-Saxon equation, followed a more cavalier mythology. As nineteenth-century historical texts employed Norman-Saxon dichotomies for nationalist purposes, various nations manipulated the Anglo-Saxon myth for nation-building purposes. America was no different. Ultimately, its relation to its Anglo-Saxon past became a struggle for its own national heritage.
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Michael Modarelli; The Struggle for Origins: Old English in Nineteenth-Century America. Modern Language Quarterly 1 December 2012; 73 (4): 527–543. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-1723358
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