A Fellow’s Field Report: “‘This language seems to be necessary to America:’ The Courier de Boston, Paul Joseph Guérard de Nancrède, and French Language Education in the Early American Republic.”
Join Nicole Mahoney for a report on her dissertation research, which explores how elite Americans in the second half of the eighteenth century used the culture of French gentility to manage social change and reinforce class boundaries. She traces how the intricacy of French courtly culture, emanating from its epicenters at Versailles and Paris during the reign of Louis XV (1715-1774), raised the standards and expectations associated with polite society out of the reach of ordinary Americans. Not content to be passive consumers of British goods on the fringes of empire, many Americans used the values and vestiges of French courtly culture to proclaim that they were instead dynamic cosmopolitan actors capable of competing in transatlantic communication, economic, and intellectual networks. Hear about her research in general and learn more about French-language publishing in the early United States, with some interesting details about the Courier de Boston and its publisher.
Nicole Mahoney is the 2017-2018 Boston Athenæum / American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Fellow. Mahoney is a Ph.D. candidate in American History at the University of Maryland, College Park. She earned a B.A. in History and French Studies from Wagner College and an M.A. in History and Literature from Columbia University. She has worked for the New-York Historical Society, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the National Constitution Center, and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Her dissertation, “Liberty, Gentility, and Dangerous Liaisons: French Culture and Polite Society in Early National America,” explores how elite Americans in the second half of the eighteenth century used the culture of French gentility to manage social change and reinforce class boundaries.