Item – Theses Canada

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LAC copy
Hengstler, Paul Michael,1973-
A winter's research and invention : Reverend James Evans's exploration of indigenous language and the development of syllabics, 1838-1839.
M.A. -- University of Alberta, 2003
Ottawa : National Library of Canada = Bibliothèque nationale du Canada, [2004]
3 microfiches.
Includes bibliographical references.
This study constitutes an examination of life of nineteenth-century Methodist missionary James Evans at a particular moment in time, the winter of 1838-39, and at a particular place, Fort Michipicoten on Lake Superior. It is a case study of Evans at a point in his life prior to his presentation of Cree syllabics, but shortly after his initial work on Ojibwa syllabics. Prior historians have largely ignored Evans's life in this period as a "lost winter," a time when he was merely stranded in the wilderness. Few have questioned how Evans formulated his ideas about language, or why he was interested in Cree and Ojibwa in the first place. Many of these questions can be answered in examining a fifty-page writing project that Evans compiled while at Fort Michipicoten, a workbook, which undertakes a comparative study on the language, customs, and religion of Indigenous people across the globe. The study of this workbook is important as it contextualizes Evans at a particular moment in time, prior to the unveiling of Cree syllabics. Thus, it helps us to more fully understand how and why an evangelical missionary became so keenly aware of and interested in Indigenous languages. By closely analysing Evans's writing in the workbook and focussing on the books that he read in the well-stocked post library we can better understand how his time at Fort Michipicoten informed and shaped his understandings of Aboriginal people and their languages. This study will place on view for the first time an understanding how this missionary's thinking evolved in the context of the imperial age of British Methodist mission work during the most notable decades of nineteenth-century book publication about the British Empire.