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THE HISTORY OF INSTRUCTION IN AMERICAN LITERATURE IN COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES OF THE UNITED STATES, 1827-1939

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THE HISTORY OP INSTRUCTION IN AMERICAN
LITERATURE IN COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
OF THE UNITED STATES 1B27-1939
JOHN SMITH
lev ;IS,
JR.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of Doctor of
Philosophy in the School of. Education of
New York University
1941
PREFACE
This dissertation attempts to report the beginnings
of American literature courses on the college level, to sug­
gest the social and academic circumstances which have operated
to aid and to hinder the subject, to show the growth of the
subject both in extent and in prestige, and to survey the
course offerings of one recent year: 1938-39.
Some at­
tempt has been made to evaluate the contributions of insti­
tutions and individuals; this evaluation has been only in
the most general terms, however, and is offered merely as an
estimate.
Little can be proved by comparison of institutions
and individuals, especially in recent years, the perspective
of which Is still inadequate.
Chapter V, "The Status Q u o :
One Year, 1938-1939," is thus offered, not without trepida­
tion.
No very important secondary sources have been avail­
able.
The investigator has discovered no book directly or
fully dealing with the history of instruction in American
literature; the few articles discovered are mostly excellent
In kind, but sharply limited In scope.
The investigator of-
fers this study as, perhaps, the first attempt to discover
and report on a fairly broad scale (121 institutions)
the
progress of American literature in the colleges and univer­
sities of the United States.
No attempt has been made to establish a suitable
"quota" or proportion for American literature courses.
Whether enough, too little, or too much attention has been
devoted to American literature by our colleges Is a question
which is left to the conscience of the reader.
This work is to some extent a catalogue study and as
such it is subject to all the limitations imposed by the eter­
nal hiatus between men's (and colleges') proposals and God's
disposals.
Where no evidence to the contrary has been u n ­
covered, the investigator has assumed that the intention
(as set forth in the Institutional announcement) was also
the deed.
Colleges and universities have not always been
lucid in the matter of dating their catalogues, rendering
the designation of dates of courses liable to error— not,
as a rule, exceeding one year.
Where institutions have a n ­
nounced courses for a year In advance of the other data in
their catalogues, the situation has been Indicated in this
style: Yale University, Catalogue 1915-1916
(16-17) •
Again, as examination of the Bibliography will r e ­
veal, catalogues have not been available for every year
covered by this research.
iii
Hence dates of inception of
courses and of other notable beginnings are subject to error;
the expression "at least as early as" should be understood
as prefixed to all such citations.
In an effort to minimize
such difficulties, the investigator made inquiry among col­
lege officials likely to be Informed on the rise of American
literature in their institutions.
Replies were generally
tolerant, courteous, and generous, but frequently indicated
that the aiithorities had referred for their information to
the investigator's own sources--the catalogues again.
Many of those responding to questions fairly over­
whelmed the Investigator with the generosity of their re­
plies, leaving him with a sense of keen regret that the full
measure of their kindness could not, for lack of space, find
inclusion in this work.
Though not always directly quoted,
these communications have been of great value to the In­
vestigator .
To the following, the investigator offers his thanks:
Professors Arthur Hobson Q,uinn (University of Pennsylvania),
Percy Holmes Boynton (University of Chicago), Fred Lewis
Pattee (Rollins College), Arthur H. Nason (New York University),
Kenneth Ballard Murdock and Bliss Perry (Harvard University),
Norman Foerster and Baldwin Maxwell (State University of
Iowa), John C. French and N. B. Fagin (Johns Hopkins Uni­
versity), Edwin I/I. Hopkins (University of Kansas), Cornelia
Meigs
(Bryn Mawr College), Amy Reed (Vassar College), T. E.
Rankin (Carleton College), E. E. Leisy (Southern Methodist
University), R. H. Tucker and J. L. Howe (Washington & Lee
University), R. E. Cook (Middlebury College), C. H. Barnwell
(University of Alabama), F. C. Prescott
(Cornell University),
H. H. Schoenberger (University of Pittsburgh), Milton Ellis
(University of M a i n e ) , Theodore Iiornberger (University of
Texas), D. H. Bishop
(University of Mississippi); Louise
Pound (University of Nebraska), Dora V. Smith (University of
Minnesota), George Funnell
(Amherst College), H. G. Paul
(University of Illinois), C. V. Boyer (University of Oregon),
L. L. Dantzler (University of Kentucky); Messrs. Alfred M.
Hitchcock, Lewis Perry (Principal, Phillips Exeter Academy),
W. Storrs Lee (Middlebury College Press), W. J. Bell (Dickin­
son College).
The investigator offers his thanks, also, to the
authorities of the library of Teachers College, Columbia
University, in the catalogue collection of which a great part
of this research was performed.
Special gratitude is due Professors Walter Barnes,
Daniel Knowlton, and John Creager of New York University, who
as the investigator’s sponsors, have seen this work and this
investigator over the hard spots, with professional aid and
personal encouragement.
v
TABLE OP CONTENTS
Chapter
Page
PREFACE................................................
I.
II.
BACKGROUNDS AND POINTS OF DEPARTURE:
1827-1870......
ii
1
Int roduc t i o n ...................................
The Educational and Social Scene.............
American Beginnings of Collegiate Interest
in Literature in English...................
Adverse Influences............................
Amherst College, 1827-1829...................
Middlebury College, 1848— ........
Books on American Literature Before 18 70 ....
Influence of Taine and Guizot.......
Expansion of American Literary Prestige.....
Exterior Influences: Pro and Con tr a..........
Summary..........................
1
2
13
16
18
20
21
32
33
43
51
THE PIONEERS: 1870-1890.........................
55
Introduction...................................
55
Background.....................................
55
American Literature in Colleges and U n i ­
versities: 1870-1880........................
60
American Literature in Colleges and Uni­
versities: 1880-1890........................ 104
Summary...........................
126
III.
SETTLEMENT:
1890-1918...........................
130
Introduction.................................... 130
Work in American Literature: 1890-1900...... 131
Work in American Literature: 1900-1910...... 183
Work in American Literature: 1910-1918....... 215
Summary: 1890-1918............
240
IV.
EXPANSION, SOLIDIFICATION, REFINEMENT:
1918-1938......................................
244
Introduction.................................... 244
Background...................................... 245
The Rising Tide of American Literature:
1918-1938.................................... 250
vi
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter
IV.
Page
(Continued)
Institutional Increases: 1918-1958..........
Development of Basic Types...........
Advocates and Commentators 1918-1940.........
Summary.........................................
V.
THE STATUS QUO— ONE YEAR, 1938-1939......
257
263
283
321
323
Introduction.................................. 323
The General Situation.......................... 324
Emphasis in Relation to Location.............. 327
Emphasis in Relation to Type ofInstitution.. 327
.......
328
Types of Course
Instructional Procedures..... ...... ......... 331
Instructional Personnel....................... 332
American Literature as aRequired Course
334
Graduate W o r k ................................... 335
Leading Institutions.......................... 338
Institutions Omitting American Literature,
1938-1939................................... 360
Summary......................................
363
VI.
CONCLUSIONS......................................
370
Backgrounds
.......
370
The Pioneers............... .................... 371
Settlement..................................... 371
Expansion, Solidification, Refinement.......... 373
The Status Quo ........... .............. ...... 374
BIBLIOGRAPHY........................................... 376
APPENDIX..............................................
vii
395
CHAPTER I
BACKGROUNDS AND POINTS OF DEPARTURE: 1827-1870
Introduction
The purpose of Chapter I is to indicate the back­
grounds— social and educational— from which courses in
American literature developed.
The social setting will be considered only so far as
its connection with educational institutions and movements
is observable.
The educational setting— in which is Included dis­
cussion of early work In British literature in both the United
States and England--has been reconstructed from catalogues,
reports, and bulletins wherever these were available, secondary
sources being drawn upon extensively.
The date 1827 has been indicated as a point of de­
parture; it marks the first definite mention of work in
American literature in an American Institution.
(See Page 18)
The year 1870 has been designated as a terminus, since by
that date social and educational patterns of the background
of work in American literature on the college level seem to
have been established and the subject had begun to appear,
here and there, in college announcements.
2
Treatment of the development of courses in British
literature in English universities has not been limited by
these dates but, as general background information, has been
included as a unit in this chapter.
The Educational and Social Scene
In American collegiate education before 18V0, rovighly,
there existed certain strands of influence which made the
Introduction of new subjects narticularly difficult and their
1
progress, when they were introduced, extremely slow.
Ameri­
can colleges of the first magnitude had been founded almost
without exception on English models.
For the most part they
were, in inspiration at least, traditional, clerical, and if
not precisely aristocratic as nearly so as a Federalist
colonial society could make them.
Even the University of
Virginia, founded by Jefferson with the express intention of
breaking with this line of influence, seems to have fallen in
with the other Institutions.
For Jefferson himself was
2
European in educational alignment.
The clerical influence
1.
2.
For discussion of social and economic presstire on educa­
tional institutions see R. Freeman Butts, The College
Charts Its Course, pp. 149, 154, 159 ff., 255, 265.
Letter:
Jefferson to Richard Rush (American minister to
Great Britain) introducing Francis Gilmore, April 26,
1824. "We require the intervening time for seeking
out and engaging professors....We propose to seek
some of them at least in i;he countries ahead of us in
3
kept Greek and Latin (and for a time, Hebrew) firmly in the
saddle, and with good reason since ministers were expected to
be scholars in the basic languages of the Bible, and colleges
were heavily engaged in preparing men for the ministry.
The demand, thus, was of probably the strongest type—
vocational and traditional.
When, after 1800, their graduates
1
in greater numbers turned toward medicine and law,
the pres­
tige of the ancient languages remained by sheer momentum and
association.
For purposes of mental discipline and for gen­
eral cultural background Latin and Greek were alleged to be
needed; many legal terms were in Latin, Cicero was a lawyer,
and Greek was simply part of a gentleman* s equipment.
The
reading or study of the literature of the vernacular (either
English or American) was felt to be no very necessary subject
for study; it was not, in the eyes of the authorities, anything
2
that required study or discussion as a rule,
and most of it
1.
2.
science and preferably in Great Britain, the land of
our own language, habits, and manners.” Quoted in
The University of Virginia (Editors: P. B. Barringer,
J. M. Garnett, R. Page)”, Vol. I, p. 93.
Henry Cabot Lodge, Studies in History, p. 341.
"The
foreign policy of Jefferson was that of a thorough,
colonist."
Harold U. Faulkner, American Political and Social H is tory,
p. 215.
Jefferson, for instance, had no particular interest in
English literature, and his taste in it was "meretri­
cious." When founding the University of Virginia he
provided for the study of Anglo-Saxon purely to in­
culcate "primitive principles" of free government.
(Continued on following page)
4
1
was considered trivial or worse, and better let alone anyway.
Boys went to college to learn things that they could not reason­
ably be expected to learn by themselves.
And the nature and
extent of these subjects had been clearly delimited; the English
universities
(and later the German) set the pattern and with
minor variations so it remained.
The only reaction against
European colleges was of a sort not calculated to encourage
2
the introduction of literature.
Subjects studied must have
1.
2.
See Philip Alexander Bruce, History of the University
of Virginia 1819-1919, Vol. I, pp. 17, 30.
John Bell Henneman, The Study of English in the South,
Sewanee Review, Vol. II, (February, 1894), pp. 180 ff.
Timothy Dwight, Travels in Hew-England and Hew-York,
Vol. I, pp. 472-473.
(Fashionable EducationT "When
he reads, he reads only to appear with advantage in
such ['social1] conversation....Hovels, plays, and
other trifles of a similar nature, are the customary
subjects of his Investigations. Voyages, travels,
biography, and sometimes history, limit his severe
researches. By such a mind thinking will be loathed,
and study regarded with terrour.
In the pursuits,
to which It is devoted, there is nothing to call
forth, to try, or to increase its strength....Desti­
tute of that habit of labouring, which alone can r e n ­
der labour pleasing, or even supportable, he dreads
exertion as a calamity. The sight of a Classic
author gives him a chill: a lesson in Locke or Euclid,
a mental ague...."
For traces of this same attitude see Andrew Dickson White,
Autobiography, Vol. I, pp. 384-385 and T. S. Eliot,
Essays Ancient and Modern, pp. 176-177.
Freeman H. Brown, Oration delivered before the Enosian
Society of the Columbian College, July 4, 1835, p. 7.
"['Circulating libraries are] "under the Influence of a
morbid and sickly mind."
S. Chapin (D. D.), An Inaugural Address delivered in the
City of Washington, 1829, p . 19.
[European Universi­
ties ]""""’Whence flowed that late tide of infidelity,
5
disciplinary value (i.e. require definite intellectual effort).
Literature--English or American— had, in the eyes of that
generation, neither.
It might be expected that as colleges in1
creased in number and in geographic spread during the 'thirties
and 'forties the curricula would relax and permit the intro­
duction of new subjects; history, French, Spanish, German, and
a little science were introduced during this period in a few
colleges, but English and American literature do not appear
to any important extent.
2
Tradition and the accepted way were still very strong.
Wherever new colleges were set up, the presidents were trusted
1.
2.
which spread death and mourning in its progress, and
which threatened to overwhelm, at once, both the throne
and the altar."
Thomas Jefferson: "But why send an American youth to Europe
for education?....If he goes to Europe he learns drink­
ing, horse racing, and boxing."
Quoted by Dixon Wecter,
The Saga of American Society, A Record of National
Aspiration, 1607-1957, p. 85, n. 9.
The colleges doubled in number, 1820-1855; there were 79
in 1855.
James Schouler, History of the United States
of America, Vol. II, p. 527.
Not universally, of course. Colby, Hobart, Amherst, and
Columbia experimented with courses of study "parallel"
to the traditional curriculum.
Colby College (Waterville Liberal Institute) Catalogue,
1852, p. XI: (Under English Department, meaning studies
in English language) "The actual wants of the majority
of students, and the practical spirit of the age demand
that this should be made a prominent department."
Milton Haight Turk, Without Classical Studies, Journal of
Higher Education, Vol. IV, (October, 1955),— SToV 7,
pp. 559-546. Hobart had an "English course" parallel
to the traditional classical course in 1824.
For Columbia see The Quarterly Journal of the American Edu­
cational Society, Vol. II, (Kay, 1850), p .‘’245. ""it
(f
6
with details of academic organization and administration; and
the presidents nearly always came from the fine old conserva-
1
tive institutions.
They chose faculties from their own or
similar colleges and set to work to reproduce Harvards, Yales,
2
Princetons, and Virginias wherever they might find themselves.
The local people were well satisfied with such an arrangement.
They were usually busy with more material concerns and left
education largely to the experts of the day.
The educated men
of the communities were graduates of the older colleges, and
felt, no doubt, that what had served to perfect their training
would serve similarly their offspring.
fell into the pattern gracefully.
Faculty and students
The concept of the gentle­
man and the scholar was fairly clear in everyone’s mind, and
the college of the day seemed well calculated to produce the
desired result.
French, German, and Spanish as languages
requiring definite, informative study and having direct value
in an increasingly expanding commerical world might be intro3
duced.
History could be made as disciplinary as Latin and
1.
2.
3.
strikingly resembles a plan which has been pursued at
Amherst College.”
For Amherst see Pages 18-20.
G. P. Schmidt, The Old Time College President.
Andrew Dickson White, Autobiography, Vol. I, p. 435.
See R. Freeman Butts, The College Charts Its Course, p. 118.
Charles F. Thwing, A History of Higher Education in America
p. 301.
Richard G. Boone, Education in the United States, p. 171.
French, Columbia, 1779; German, Columbia, 1784;
"Modern Languages," William and Mary, 1782; French
professorship, Harvard, 1815; German, Union, 1806;
French, Williams, 1793; French, South Carolina, 1800.
V
Greek and might be expected to serve the interests of patriot1
ism:
science— in some of its forms-~could be made difficult
and could be considered useful.
But literature in the or­
dinary spoken language was without sanction and void.
It is
significant that when the study of English literature was
finally introduced it took the form of instruction in literary
history with emphasis on dates, names, and other factual de ­
tails, and that a little later it centered around the works
of Chaucer and Shakespeare— authors who did not write in mere
contemporary English--and soon, at least in the graduate
fields which provided the training for future teachers, went
off into linguistics and etymology, whence it has been rescued
only recently.
(See page 304, Note 2)
To hold academic
respectabilit;/, a subject must be difficult, or at least sus2
ceptible to being made difficult,
With the great majority of the people involved in
the workaday life of national expansion and exploitation,
and changes in the curricula of the colleges had to come from
the colleges themselves.
The citizenry, even the most far-
seeing, seem to have had little or no notion of criticizing
1.
2.
Thwing, ojo. cit., p. 304.
First chair of history, 'William
and Mary, 1822; second chair of history, Harvard
(Jared Sparks), 1839; professorship, Yale, 1865.
Letter: Howard Mumford Jones: 25 June, 1939.
B. W. 'Wells, Novel Reading as a Mental Discipline,
Sewanee Review, Vol. Ill, (Kay, 1895), pp. 329-338.
8
collegiate education and certainly no idea of changing it.
The colleges turned out reasonably competent ministers, law­
yers, and doctors; under the conditions of an expanding
economy most boys who went to college became financially suc­
cessful.
And that was all that parents individually and
society collectively required.
If society was satisfied, there was no very pressing
reason why the colleges should be self-critical.
As part and
parcel of the community, they could be counted on to share the
prevailing philosophy.
Faculty members were hand-picked for
sobriety, docility, Christian gentility, and— to some extent-for scholarship; the clergy were heavily represented.
Col­
leges were not comfortable places for men of great originality.
"Characters" of the Barrett Wendell, Charles T. Copeland,
Brander Matthews pattern were not allowed.
What happened
when queer fish swam into academic waters may be discovered
by a glance into the history of the University of Virginia,
which seems to have had in its early years, before conven­
tional middle age overtook it, rather more than Its share of
1
them.
Even moderately liberal innovations were looked upon
as undesirable; the experience of President Horace Holley of
2
Transylvania University may be taken as fairly typical.
The
atmosphere of the college was usually conventional, mi d d l e -
1.
2.
Philip Alexander Bruce, History of the University of Virginia 1819-1919, Vol. II, pp. 161 ff.
Niels H. Sonne, Liberal Kentucky 1780-1828, pp. 191-261.
9
class, ministerial (rather than clerical, now), and stag­
nant .
Ministers were particularly prominent as professors
of "Belles Lettres and Rhetoric"— the only department in
which the study of English and American literature might be
expected to find habitation.
Often they were men of broad
general culture and commanding teaching ability; sometimes
1
they were men of imagination.
But generally they were not
so much interested in opening new doors of intellectual
activity as in making sure that those already open did not
slam shut; "fighting clergymen" did not seek college berths
as a rule.
Most of the clergymen-professors were well con­
tent to deal justly with the traditionally acceptable materi­
als.
Eventually, be it said in all fairness, English and
American literature did arrive in the curricula by way of
their departments of Belles Lettres, Rhetoric, and Oratory.
The Study of English Literature in England
The "rise" of English literature as a subject for
study in colleges forms the background for the development
1.
See, for example, Thomas Abbott Merrill, D.D., An Essay
on the Study.of the Latin Language in our Schools
and Colleges at the Expense of Writing and Speaking
in English Especially Extemporaneously ("i860) .
Merrill "late pastor of the Congregational Church in
Middlebury, Vt." on the basis of his own experience
attacks the whole theory of mental discipline and
faculty psychology.
10
of the study of American literature.
In the English u n i ­
versities it came forward even more slowly than in the
American.'*'
Long after it had become an established subject
in the United States, it was still going through the first
2
steps of franchise in England.
In Scotland, also, it
apparently arrived earlier; John Nichol held the title of
Professor of English Literature at the University of Glasgow
as early as 1862.®
Since 1708 Oxford has had a "Chair of Poetry," en­
dowed by a dim, enigmatic gentleman, Henry Birkhead, who died
in 1696.
His intentions in endowing this chair are not clear;
he seems to have felt that such an institution would further,
in a general way, the appreciation and production of poetry.^
But whatever his intentions, the chair has, during most of its
history, served as a lectureship in classical languages and
1.
2.
3.
4.
Curiously enough, the first scholarly lectures on American
literature seem to have been delivered to the E d i n ­
burgh Philosophical Institution in 1861 by John Nichol,
(pee Nichol's American Literature : An Historical
Sketch 1620-18 5 0 , 1882 edition, p. v."]
See M. Chevrillon (Lille, Faculty des Lettres), The Study
of English Literature in French U niversities, a paper
read before the International Congress of Education
(Chicago, 1893).
(L'entioned in English in American
Universities, p. 167.)
See Foster Watson, The Beginnings of the Teaching of
modern Subjects in England~~Tl909) .
Encyclopaedia Britannica' “Tilth lidition) , Vol. XIX,
p. 648.
J. V/. Fackail, Henry Birkhead and the Foundation of the
Oxford Chair of Poetry, p. 11.
11
literatures with only digressive commentary on English
1
literature.
During the eighteenth century, when it might
have influenced American colleges, it was almost entirely
2
lacking in prestige, even at Oxford.
All in all, there is
little reason for the comment (1908) of J. W. Mackail on the
subject of Chairs of Poetry: "There is none in the many Uni­
versities, with their multifarious professorships, which have
3
been founded in the United States of America."
If he had
examined William Morton Payne's English in American Univer­
sities
(1895) he would have discovered that over a decade
before his comment, every major American university had a well
developed department of English literature with a strong array
of courses in poetry.
(See also Page 54)
The activity of John Churton Collins produced the
first real professorships in English literature at Oxford
4
(1903) and Cambridge (1910),
though linguistic courses had
5
been conducted somewhat earlier.
Collins’s campaign to get
attention for English literature at the universities began
6
in 1886 with articles in the Pall Mall Gazette and the
7
Quarterly Review.
The debate was soon under way in sultry
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
T. Herbert Warren, Oxford and Poetry in 19 11 , pp. 13-14.
Mackail, op. c i t ., p. 23.
I bi d., p . 12.
L. C. Collins, Life and Memoirs of John Churton Collins,
pp. 117-118.
L o c . cit .
May 28, 31, 1886.
October, 1886.
12
earnest.
Edward Augustus' Freeman, Regius Professor of Modern
History at Oxford, led the opposition and thus stated the
position of the academic old guard:
There are many things fit for a m a n ’s personal
study which are not fit for university examina­
tions. One of them is ”literature" in the Lec­
turer’s sense. He (the correspondent) tells us
that it "cultivates the taste, educates the
sympathies, enlarges the mind." Excellent re­
sults, against which no one has a word to say.
Only we cannot examine in tastes and. sympathies.
The examiner, in any branch of knowledge, must
stick to the duller range of that "technical
and positive information...."!
Against the formidable opposition of the Regius Professor,
Collins arrayed the approval of Algernon Charles Swinburne,
the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Manning, Matthew
Arnold, Thomas Huxley, John Morley, Lord Lytton, James
Froude, John Bright, and Benjamin Jowett; eventually he suc­
ceeded in getting English literature a place as a Final Honour
School, after which, in due time, came the professorships in
the subject.
The heated debates and Collins’s lecture tour in the
United States did much to stimulate American interest and ex­
tend the study of English literature, no doubt, in this
country; but it had been firmly imbedded in the average col­
lege curriculum for at least two decades.
1.
London Times, June 8, 1887.
o p . c i t ., pp. 26-27.
Quoted by L. C. Collins,
13
American. Beginnings of Collegiate Interest in
Literature in English
Dates of earliest mention of work In English litera­
ture or of professorships of English literature in American
colleges are given in the tahle on Page 54.
A glance at the
statistics reveals that, though better patronized in American
than in English institutions, English literature had no very
1
important place in American colleges before 1850.
Out of the
72 colleges included in this research which were founded before
1850, only 12 mention it in their catalogues by that year; and
even in those it was given only ten or twelve weeks' attention,
for one or two hours a week, usually in the form of lectures
1.
White, ojo. c i t ., pp. 29-30.
Thwing, _ojo. c i t ., p. 442. Letter: Professor L, S. Potwin
to C. P. "'fhwing. "If the name of a single English
author was ever mentioned in the classroom by an in­
structor during my whole college course, then I have
forgotten the fact. We had instruction--a little in
composition, but for English Literature we were left
to our private reading. I remember reading through
Wordsworth's 'Prelude' when I was supposed to be
cramming for the Sophomore Biennials.
I remember
that Carlyle was much read by the more ambitious stu­
dents like Andrew Dickson White of '53, but English
authors had no part nor lot in our curriculum...."
Henneman, ££. c i t ., l o c . cit.
B. P. Aydelott, "President of the Woodward College, Cin­
cinnati," A n Address on Collegiate Departments of the
English Language and Literature (Cincinnati, 1838) ,
p. 3. "There is not, we believe, in any of our Col­
leges, nor in those of the mother country, a depart­
ment of English Language and Literature,"
This is
the earliest plea for collegiate work in English which
this research has discovered. Aydelott's interest was
mainly Philology and Rhetoric.
W. B. Cairns, On the Development of American Literature
from 1815 to 185 3, p. 7.
14
by the Professor of Belles Lettres and Rhetoric— who also
was likely to teach Logic, History, Evidences of Christianity,
1
and Moral Philosophy*
It appears that this small beginning was based on a
definite demand.
The opening wedge for literature— both
English and American— was the study of oratory, which de­
veloped very early in almost all American institutions.
Oratory, frequently called forensics, rhetoric, or public
speaking, had a double sanction.
In a nation where the ex­
pression of opinion on vital national questions was almost a
public duty, and in which direct oratorical appeal was the
quickest way in which to mould public opinion, oratory must
2
flourish.
Lawyer, statesman, minister, and teacher all had
a use for it; from the days of the Revolution oratory had been
3
practiced by the privileged and admired by all.
And the best
loved type of oratory could be taught in easy conjunction with
grammar and rhetoric.
1.
2.
3.
Furthermore, the study of oratory had
University of Delaware, Catalogue, 1852, p. 20.
George Washington University (Columbian College), Catalogue,
1855-56, p. 6.
University of Missouri, Catalogue, 1861, p. 17.
Rutgers University, Catalogue, 1864-1865, pp. 23-24.
Wesleyan University, Catalogue, 1842-1843, p. 18.
Samuel Lorenzo Knapp, Lectures on American Literature,
p. 5.
J. R. Boyd, Elements of Rhetoric..., p. 303, quoting the
Democratic Review, July, 1844.
15
classical sanction.
Quintilian, Demosthenes, Cicero— to
mention only three ancients— lind patronized it with their
names and fames.
Even the professor of Greek and Latin could
find nothing to object to in it.
The conjunction with literature was inevitable.
The
heavy speeches were richly ornamented with quotation and al­
lusion, with Latin and Greek where they seemed profitable,
with English quotations — the Bible, Shakespeare, Alexander
Pope— where English only was likely to register.
In turn,
the fervid love of oratory created a literature of its own
which could be read as well as quoted.
This was a literature
really organic to a young, noisy republic— a literature fla­
vored with the past, but vigorous with the practical, ad hoc
quality of the pulpit, the court-room, and the stump.
It
1
was so recognized by Americans’ at an early date.
The speeches
of the Revolution were national classics almost as soon as
they were uttered. "Demosthenians" at the University of
2
Georgia and elsewhere under other names, thundered in the
1..
2.
"Oratory is eminently the literature of republics.
Poli­
tical freedom gives both occasion and impulse to
thoughts on public interests; and its -expression is
a requisite accomplishment to every intelligent and
patriotic citizen. American eloquence, although not
unknown in the professional spheres of colonial life,
developed with originality and richness at the epoch
of the revolution.
Henry T, Tuckerman, Sketch of
American Literature, in Thomas B. Shaw's K Complete
Manual of English Literature (William Smith e d . ) ,
p. 484.
Willis Mason West, American History and Government, p. 491.
E. Merton Coulter, College Life in the Old South, pp. 133173.
16
periods of Patrick Henry, and eventually the thunder rolled
out of New England where Daniel Webster made a legend of it.""
Involved In mighty matters of politics and religion (Had not
Jonathan Edwards caused a not exceptionally sinful congre­
gation to clutch the varnish from its pews with his Sinners
2
in the Hands of an Angry God?) and comprehensible to the
average man, oratory had a place next the heart of the nation
which was not shared for many years by any form of written
literature,
now much American material was included more or
less Incidentally in the rhetorical and oratorical courses
in the early decades of the century it Is difficult to esti­
mate, but probably there was a good deal of it, for writing
and speaking were taught largely by models and imitation.
Adverse Influences
Conscious of Itself as a new nation and smarting under
3
English slights ("VIho Reads an American Book?'1) the United
States might have been expected to .furnish rich soil, in some
of the rising new colleges, for the study of American literature in the ’thirties.
4-
But the process of expansion was
exciting, politics and the slavery problem distracted the
1.
2.
3.
4.
See Stephen Vincent Eenet, The Devil and Daniel Debat e r .
Jonathan Edwards, Selected Sermons, pp. 78-97. Deuter­
onomy xxxii. oin "Their foot shall slide in due time.'1
Sydney "Smith, Edinburgh Review, Vol. XXXIII (January,
1820), pp. 78-00.
West, _o£. cit., p. 491.
17
South1 and trade 'in the North attracted the best minds, the
Jacksonian accession disturbed and discouraged many members
of the small literary group, the colleges moved through
their wonted denominational spheres; and what energy there
was for literature went into the production of it rather than
into the teaching of it.
Deeply imbedded in colonial hearts
was the notion ..that only by imitation of English models could
2
rank be achieved; since the same notion kept the sceptre of
criticism across the water, from the au t h o r rs point of view
there was pragmatic truth in the attitude.
The study of English literature
3
in the colleges in­
creased tremendously after 1850, probably as a result of the
general humanitarian movement and the growing realization that
subjects without immediate utility might have significance.
(See Page 29)
By 1865 the number of colleges mentioning it
in their catalogues had grown from 12 to 41, and by 1870 there
1.
2.
3.
Rev. Basil Manly (President, University of Alabama), Re­
port on Collegiate Education (July, 1852), p. 43.
u/ith us, at the South the main obstacle to a liberal
education is not the want of money, or of leisure
in youth— but of a literary taste and ambition."
S. G. Goodrich, Recollections of a Lifetime, Vol. II, p.
111.
"It was positively injurious to the commercial
credit of a bookseller to undertake American works,
unless they might be horse's Geographies, classical
books, school books, Watts' Psalms and Hymns [S i c ]
or something of that class."
(c. 1820).
See Page 22 for John Neal's attitude.
See George P. Harsh, An Apology for the Study of English
(1859).
18
were very few colleges not offering at least a modicum of
work in the field.
(See Pages 54, 58-60)
The rising tide
of English literature in the colleges together with the
1
flood of interest in linguistics deriving from Germany,
probably engulfed and swept away the frail beginnings in the
field of our literatiire.
(See Pages 137-139)
For, even be­
fore 1870, American literature had not been utterly without
prophets in the colleges.
Amherst College, 1827-1829
From as early a date as the 1790's, when the American
Philosophical Society offered a prize for "the best system
of liberal education and literary instruction adapted to the
2
genius of the United States"
there had been evidences (See
Page 24, Note 1; Page 5, Note 2) here and there of a more
3
realistic approach to education.
This was in part stimulated by eighteenth
century liberalism, which emphasized democ­
racy and the perfectibility of man, and by
the responsibility that many leaders of the
new nation felt for improving the educational
standards of its citizens.4
1.
2.
3.
4.
R. Freeman Butts, The College Charts Its Course, pp. 80
81.
H. U. Faulkner, American Political and Social History,
p. 216.
Butts, 0£. c i t ., pp. 132 f f .
Faulkner, ojd c i t ., p. 215.
.
19
Two early attempts in the teaching of American litera­
ture in college deserve particular attention.
The catalogues
of Amherst College for 1827 and 1828 (covering the years 1827
to 1829) mention a course: "Lectures in English and American
1
Literature."
This was one phase of an attempted innovation
which, if it had been able to survive, would have put Amherst
in the van of all colleges of its day.
"Two parallel courses
of study have been recently established, in one of which
Ancient, and in the other modern Languages and Literature,
receive particular attention."
2
The faculty had gone on re­
cord in 1827 thus: "...we believe that the time has come, for
the more critical study of some of the admired classics in
our own language, by a portion at least, of the liberally educated in every College."
At this same time French and
Spanish came into the Amherst curriculum and there was even a
suggestion in the report quoted that professional training
in education might well be introduced.
But in 1829 the reac­
tion set in; the modern language part of the parallel curric­
ulum was dropped in the fall of 1829, though French and
1.
2.
3.
Amherst College, Catalogue, 1827, p. 15.
(Also Catalogue,
1828).
Loc. c i t .
See Substance of Two Reports Submitted by the Faculty
to the Trustees (printed 1827)'. Letter: George
Funnell (Professor of Romance Languages, Amherst
College), 8 June 1939.
20
Spanish were left undisturbed.
The leaders of this move­
ment were Nathan Welby Fiske, who taught the American litera­
ture as Professor of Belles Lettres, and Jacob Abbott,
Upon
the failure of the attempt, Abbott resigned, and Fiske re1
mained only as a teacher of the classics.
The time was not
yet ripe for college instruction in American Literature,
Middlebury College , 1848—
The catalogue of Middlebury College for 1848-1849
mentions as a third term, junior-year course, "Critiques
on the British and American Classics,"
(prose and poetry)
and for the third term, senior year "Analysis of American
2
Orators."
The instructor in charge was the Reverend James
Meacham,
The announcement continues with only very slight
changes until 1868-1869 when the adoption of Shaw's History
of English Literature (Smith edition) seems to have altered
3
the course.
Since this edition of Shaw's work had a fairly
extensive account of American literature appended, it is
reasonable to suppose that American literature continued to
1,
2,
3,
Both Abbott and Piske have a kind of tie to the "popu­
lar" side of American literature, Abbott as the
author of the Rollo Books and Fiske as the father
of Helen Hunt Jackson, author of Ramona.
Middlebury College, Catalogue, 1848-1849, p, 15, Perhaps
some significance may be attached to this date, mark­
ing the close of the Mexican War; see Pages 47 and 77.
Middlebury College, Catalogue, 1868-1869, p, 15.
21
receive a certain amount of attention.
The Backus edition of
Shaw’s book (which also included the American material) car­
ried the work down to 1890,1 at which time the first modern
o
course in American literature appears at the college.~
Middlebury is, thus the oldest college in the continuous
teaching of American literature--1848 to the present.
Other colleges may have utilized American literary
g
materials before 1870, but of the 121 studied these two—
Amherst and Middlebury-— are alone in mentioning American
4
literature definitely in catalogues.
Books on American Literature Before 1870.
Before very much could be done for American litera­
ture in the colleges, there had to be an interest in American
1.
2.
3.
4.
Middlebury College, Catalogue, 1880-1881, p. 15.
Middlebury College, Catalogue, 1890-1891, p. 26.
Hamilton College, Catalogue, 1866-1867, p. 31, Subject
of English Prize Composition: Description of Mature
in American Poetry.
Hobart College, Catalogue, 1868-1869, p. 27. Cobb Prize
Medal, Subjects for Essay: (1) English Translations
of Homer, (2) American Prose Literature.
Lawrance Thompson, The Young Longfe1low, p. 67. Commence­
ment Address Subject at Bowdoin College (1825): Our
Native 'frit er s . Contribution of Longfellow to the
Literary Gazette (April 1, 1825): "The Literary Spirit
of Our Country.11'
Ernest Christopher Hassold. American Literary History
Before the Civil Aar, p. 65. Discourses on American
Literature, Lyceum Lecture, Charlottesville, Virginia,
1837.
At Dartmouth College Russell's American Elocutionist was
listed from 1848 to 1867.
(See 'Catalogue 1848-49,
p . xxi)
22
literature outside their walls that would be sufficient to sus­
tain criticism and study within, and this interest must take
the form of usable books.
t
The Works of John Heal (1795-1876)
Very early an American had been struck with the possi­
bilities of an history of American literature; John Neal, a
Laine Quaker, "announced, a few years since, that he was en ­
gaged upon a history of American Literature."
This John Heal,
though generally more or less friendly toward England,
fore1
shadowed J'r. H. L. Hencken in his views on the language.
"I do not pretend" he says, in the 'unpublished
preface to the North American Stories,' prefixed
to 'Rachel Dyer,' "to xvrite English; that is, I
do not pretend to write what the English t h e m ­
selves call English-— I do not, and I hope to God-I say this reverently, although one of their re­
viewers may be again puzzled to determine
'whether I am swearing or praying,' when I say
so--that I shall never write what is now worship­
ped under the name of classical English.
It is
no natural language— -it never was — it never will
be spoken alive on this earth, and therefore
ought never to be written. We have dead lan­
guages enough now, but the deadest language I
ever met with or heard of, was that in use among
the writers of Queen Anne's day."®
1.
2.
Gf. Noah Webster, Dissertations on the English Language
(1789) . See H. L. LTencken, The American Language
(4th edition), pp. 381 ff.
E. A. and G. L. Duyckinck, Cyclopaedia of American Litera­
ture , Vol. II, p. 163.
23
The nearest Neal ever came to his history, however, was a
series of articles on American authors for Blackwood's
1
Magazine (1824-1825).
He went to England and became the
friend of Jeremy Bentham and other literary men.
Keenly
interested in American literature and strongly impressed
with the importance of encouraging it, he seems to have felt
that any approach must be by way of England.
His surrender
to English influence after his fine initial sally is evidence
of how unprepared for the study of American literature the
United States was at this time, and evidence of how little
even the energetic and farseeing individual could accomplish
against the adverse conditions which prevailed.
S, L. Knapp:
Lectures on American Literature
Another such
literary pioneer was Samuel Lorenzo Knapp
(1784-1838).
Born at Newburyport, Massachusetts, he passed
through Phillips Academy at Andover and graduated from Dart­
mouth in 1804.
militia.
In the War of 1812 he served as an officer of
Later he became editor of the Boston Gazette and the
Boston Monthly Magazine and in 1826 founded the National Re2
publican.
He was the author of two books of American biogra­
phy and
a collection of short stories.
Another title shows
his interest in the extension to the unlearned public
1.
2.
Has sold, ojD. c i t ., p. 42.
Duyckinck, o j d . cit. , pp. 61-62.
of the
24
pleasures of literature— Advice in the Pursuit of Litera
ture, "...guide to the study of English literature for per1
sons engaged in business." (1832)
But the most significant of his works as a contribu­
tion to the development of the study of American literature
is his Lectures on American Literature; with Remarks on Some
Passages of American History. This volume, oublished in
2
1829,
shows a remarkably modern attitude toward the relation
of history and literature.
Throughout, literature is treated
as a design within the general pattern of social history.
The
author is interested, moreover, in the broader phases of Ameri­
can culture, and he shows appreciation for the non-political
aspects of American history and non-belletristic literature.
Among other topics discussed are: oratory, the influence of
the scholar upon society, Oriental literature and its impli­
cations for the United States, artists of the United States,
and the history of various magazines.
His purposes, and a
suggestion of the general social stimulus, appear in his in­
troductory comments addressed "To William Austin Seeley, Esq.,
Counsellor at Law":
To you, who amid the cares of a full practice...
have found time...to collect the literature and
science of every age...I respectfully dedicate
1.
2.
Duyckinck, 0£. c i t ., p. 62.
Hew York: Elam Bliss, 300 pages.
25
this humble volume in which I have attempted
to describe, by a few faint sketches and some
passing remarks, the literature, the talents,
and the character of our ancestors... ,1 know
you are among the number who are anxious that
we as a people, should speak freely and justly
of ourselves and honestly strive to place our
claims to national distinction on the broad
basis of well authenticated historical facts;
this would soon be accomplished, if all our
able and enlightened scholars would come for­
ward to aid the few who are toiling in the
cause: yet, with a few exceptions, our pride
has rather led us to make spirited retorts,
than laborious researches, for an answer to
those who question our literary and scientific
character....1 have attempted but little more
than to state my points, name my authorities,
and have left the whole field for those abler
advocates who may follow me....
And he sets forth one of the reasons why so vigorous a begin­
ning was not followed up in force until the ’seventies:
My plan, when I commenced my researches, was
an extensive one, and I gathered copious ma ­
terials to carry it into effect. For several
years past I have had access to libraries
rich in American literature; but when I sat
down to work up the mass I had collected, the
thought suggested itself to my mind, that no
adequate compensation could ever be reasonably
expected for my pains; and then the conscious­
ness that I was in some measure trespassing
upon my professional pursuits, went far to
quench my zeal, and to chase away my visions
of literary reputation.
(Italics the inves­
tigator ’s )
He goes on to say that with this thought in mind he contented
himself with an abridged form of the work originally projected;
1.
2.
Samuel Lorenzo Knapp, Lectures on American Literature, p. 3.
Ibi d., p. 4.
26
and he adds an even more business-like note:
And another thought struck me most forcibly,
that a heavy publication would not be readily
within the reach of all classes of youth in
our country, but a single volume of common
size, in a cheap edition, might find its way
into some of our schools, and be of service
in giving our children a wish to pursue the
subject of our literary history as they a d ­
vanced in years and in knowledge....We have
very good histories— narrative, political,
military, and constitutionalj but I know none,
as yet, that can be called literary— meaning
by the term, a history of our literature and
of our literary men; and probably it will be
a long time before we shall have such an one
as we ought to have.
Our Sismondis, D ’Israelis,
are yet to rise. You will struggle in vain to
make American history well understood by your
pupils, unless biographical sketches, anecdotes,
and literary selections, are mingled with the
mass of general facts.
The heart must be,affect­
ed, and the imagination seized, to make lasting
impressions upon the memory.1
The suggestion throughout is that Knapp felt and hoped that
the time was ripe for a burst of interest in American history
and literature, and that this one volume was put out as a
2
feeler before a more massive work was attempted.
It is in­
teresting to note in this earliest general wo rk on American
literature the strong flavor of literature for history’s sake.
1.
2.
Knapp, ojp. c i t . , p. 4
Ibid., Preface: "Every book that is ushered into the
world, is a mental experiment of the author, to
ascertain the taste, and to obtain the judgment of
the community..."
27
Knapp was, apparently, conscious that there had been no great
demand for such a work, but he seems to have felt the same
quickening spirit in American cultural life that Goodrich
more definitely remarked {See Page 35); as an editor, Knapp
was in a position to form a respectable opinion:
The literature of our country is increasing with
a most astonishing rapidity; and knowledge is
pouring upon us in its lesser and greater streams
from all parts of the land; besides weekly and
monthly magazines, which are profusely scattered
throughout all our territories, we have several
journals in medicine a n d law; and six established
quarterly reviews, extensively read and well
supported.1
J. R. Boyd: Elaments of Rhetoric...
Thirty-six years later there was, apparently, suf­
ficient demand to call forth a school text containing Ameri­
can literary material.
Under the editorship of J. R. Boyd,
Principal of the Black River L. and R. Institute there appeared
(4th edition, 1845) Elements of Rhetoric and Literary Criti­
c i s m ...including also, A Succinct History of the English
Language and of British and American Literature from the
Earliest to the Present Times .
A letter of commendation a t ­
tached shows that Americans were, here and there in the school
2
world, becoming conscious of their literature and of its
1.
2.
Knapp, o£. cit., pp. 138-139.
See John E. Flitcroft, The Development of English as a
Secondary School Study in the United States to the
End of the Nineteenth Century. Thesis, A. V.. New
York University, 1920.
28
Implications for the schools:
...love of country is incidentally inculcated;
the strongest love, "based upon respect for
what the country has produced, and can pro­
duce * We are taunted with having no litera­
ture of our own; but the American student will
find a full refutation of that slander in Mr.
Boyd's account of American writers, and his
judicious selections from both their poetry
and prose. Teachers and students will bid it
welcome. (D. P. Mayhew, Principal, Lowville
Academy, Lewis Co., New York)l
But this is the only one of the nine commendatory letters
that takes notice of the American material.
The author quotes
Griswold and Cheever and refers readers to them for further
2
specimens of our literature.
Of the total 306 pages, 31
are devoted to American literature and 79 to British litera­
ture •
Implications of Boyd's Work
Boyd's book is extremely interesting for his use of
quotations from contemporary periodicals.
North American Review
Be goes to the
several times for comments on the gen­
eral literary scene In the United States, to the New York
Evangelist for comments on the "purity" of American literature
3
(Bryant's in particular), and to the Democratic Review (1844)
1.
2.
3.
J. R. Boyd, Elements of Rhetoric...f p. 3.
Ibid., p. 276.
Ibid., p. 299.
29
for an article which is clean-cut evidence of the rising
American educational and literary consciousness and of the
attitude that was to make possible the introduction of such
courses as English and American literature— courses not
directly useful and not immediately disciplinary:
To render man physically comfortable, and
to give him sufficient occupation of what­
ever sort circumstances demand, is the
primary duty of society; but immediately
next to that, to seek to elevate, and re­
fine, deepen and expand the characters of
all men...this is the great lesson of life,
the very object and end of being.1
The fact was beginning to dawn on American minds that there
was a phase of education beyond the mere '’practical"
stage
which was, indirectly, even more important in a democracy;
and in this, literature— particularly American literature,
had a mighty place.
Other forces operated to prevent the
immediate focusing of attention of educators upon American
literature as a subject at this time; but the general ideal
and idea of literature as a leavening force and an influence
upon character was in the air.
In the increasingly humani­
tarian scene and to the increaslnglv liberal Interpretation
2
of democracy,
individual human character was of immense Im­
portance.
1.
2.
Even the more conservative authorities began to
Democratic Review, July 1844. Quoted by Boyd,
p. 304.
R. Freeman Butts, op. c i t ., pp. 86-87.
o jd .
cit.,
30
see the light.
If modes of life were to he kept at all in
line with the accepted cultural current, the great mass of
people must be converted and educated to the acceptable
standard.
In the words of the North American Review, "The
true monarclis of a country are those whose sway is over thought
and emotion.""*"
Thus, if one may judge by Boyd’s text, some secondary
schools very early recognized to an extent their responsibility
as American institutions and placed American literature before
2
their pupils.
The very fact that they did so may have re­
lieved the colleges of any feeling of responsibility in the
matter and induced the prejudice that American literature was
an essentially secondary school subject, quite unworthy of
collegiate attention.
1.
2.
Boyd, o£. c i t . , p. 305.
Cleveland, Compendium of American Literatu r e , Preface.
(1858) . This anthology, according to Hassold, op.
c i t ., p. 130, was used extensively in academies.
It was listed In the following Institutions among
the 121 studied in this research: Iowa State Uni­
versity, Catalogue, 1865-66, p. 32; Haverford
College, Catalogue, 1868-69, p. 13; University
of Uinnesota, Calendar, 1878-79, p. 75.
Review in the North American Revlev/ (Vol. XXXIII, p. 297324) of George B. Cheever’s The American Commonplace
Book of Poetry (1831): "Particularly suitable' for
the use of colleges, academies and schools."
Quoted
by Hassold, _op. c i t ., p. 71.
White, _££. c i t ., Vol". I, p. 9.
31
Thomas Budd Shaw: Outlines of English Literature
The gap between the teaching of literature in the
secondary schools and instruction in the subject on the col­
lege level was bridged, in part, by another textbook used in
both types of institution; between 1852 and 1880, one book
1
2
in an 1852 edition and two revisions was the basis for prac­
tically all college instruction in the history of English
literature— Outlines of English Literature by Thomas B. Shaw.
This work, by an Englishman resident in St. Petersburg as
professor of English literature at the Imperial Alexander
Lyceum was undertaken at the request of the Russian author3
ities.
1.
2.
3.
Thomas Budd Shaw, Outlines of English Literature (A New
American Edition with a Sketch of American Litera­
ture by Henry Tuckerman) . Philadelphia:
Blanchard
and Lee, 1852, xiii / 489 pages.
Thomas B. Shaw, A Complete Manual of English Literature
(Edited, with Notes and Illustrations by William
Smith, LL. D. with a Sketch of American Literature
by Henry T, TuckermanT^ New York:
Sheldon and Com­
pany, 1868. 540 pages (American Literature— pp. 477532) .
Shaw's New History of English Literature Together with
£ History of English Literature in America. (Revised
edition). Truman J, Backus, LL, D. New York: Ameri­
can Book Company, xiii / 502 pages.
(American Litera­
ture— pp. 411-497.
According to a note in the Complete Manual (1868), p. 6,
the first -edition of this work was published in 1846
or 1847 and a second edition was published by "hr.
Murray" in 1849.
Thomas B. Shaw, A Complete Manual of English Literature
(Smith edition), p p . 6-7. For British influence on
Russia before this time, see Ernest J. Simmons,
English Literature and Culture in Russia 1555-1840.
32
It was reprinted in Philadelphia and seems to have been im­
mediately adopted by American colleges.
(See Page 53)
By
1852 Henry T. Tuclcerman had prepared a supplement to it, A
Sketch of American Literature.
The combined work was r e ­
vised and edited by William Smith (Examiner of the University
of London) in 1868, and by Truman J. Backus
(Professor of
English at Vassar) in 1874.
It dominated instruction in Eng1
lish literature for at least thirty years,
and wherever it
was used a certain amount of attention to American literature
by way of the supplementarv Sketch seems likely to have re2
suited.
Influence of Taine and Guizot
Less definite, but perhaps even more pervasive in
preparing the academic mind for the acceptance of American
literature as a subject for study, was Guizot's History of
’3
Civilization, quoted by Tuckerman and very popular in the
Moses Colt Tyler (q.v.) preferred the Complete Manual to
the Backus edition# See Moses Colt Tyler 1855-1900
(J. T. Austen, editor), p. 90.
Hassold thinks well of Tuckerman's Sketch (1858 edition) .
See o£. cit., pp. 112-113, 117.
Guizot's History of European Civilization is mentioned by
Tuckerman in his Sketch of American Literature, ap­
pended to Shaw's Manual, p. 484. White mentions it
in his Autobiography as having made a strong impres­
sion on him when he read it at Yale under the direc­
tion of Professor Woolsey.
(Vol. I, p. 38).
33
colleges before 1870.
(See Page 53)
Taine's History of
English Literature (1863) was widely included in lists of r e­
quired textbooks and in courses of study shortly after this
period (See Page 53) and probably was influential earlier.1
The strong emphasis of this work upon geography and general
natural environment as shaping forces in literary and intel­
lectual life probably left its mark on the academic mind
generally.
Followed to its logical conclusion, Taine's line
of thought would clearly indicate that English and American
literatures were at a parting of the ways.
The feeling for
the influence of physical background upon literature is
clearly evident throughout the literary works of the mid2
century.
Expansion of American Lit era vj Prestige
All testimony points to a considerable increase in
the public interest in literature between 1820 and 1860, ac-
1.
2.
For Taine’s influence see George R. Cerveny, A Study of
Vernon Louis Parrington1s Lethod of Literary Criti­
cism: Its Origin, Its Content, Its Influence, p. 25.
Henr?/ Wadsworth Longfellow, Kavanagh (1853) , pp. 111124.
Boyd, ojd. cit., pp. 305-306.
(Quoting the Worth American
Review, 1844.)
Shaw, o£>. cit., p. 516.
Rufus S, Griswold, Readings in American Poetry (1843),
p. 3; Poets and Poetry of America (1842), p. 7.
34
companied by a rising concern about educational matters.
The table following (See Page 35) indicates the extent of
this tendency as measurable in the book trade (value of
production).
As Goodrich points out, this represents in­
creases of 40 per cent from 1820 to 1830, 60 per cent from
1830 to 1840, and 125 per cent from 1840 to 1850.
Other
comparisons of figures in the table are significant.
The
increase in value of textbooks between 1820 and 1850 was 733
per cent; of classical books 400 per cent; of theological
books 330 per cent; of law books 330 per cent; of medical
books 266 per cent; and of "all others"
general literature) 440 per cent.
(Which would include
The total increase in
value of publications produced between 1820 and 1850 was
500 per cent.‘L
The enormous increa.se in production of text­
books— out of all proportion to increases in other fields —
indicates the extent of educational expansion in this period;
a comparison between the last two columns and the first two
would seem to indicate an increase by geometric progression.
Not only was there this remarkable expansion in total
publication, but the publication of books written in the
1,
Goodrich regarded these figures as estimated data, but
he states (Vol. II, p. 552) that the more precise
figures contained in the American Catalogue of Books
of Messrs, Samson. Low, Son and Company of London
confirm, his estimates. This catalogue was received
by Goodrich after his book was in type.
35
INCREASE IN PUBLICATION 1820-1850
tip .©,
18201
18302
18403
1850
4
$750,000
$1,100,000
$2,000,000
$5,000,000
Classical
250,000
350,000
550,000
1,000,000
Theological
150,000
250,000
300,000
500,000
Law
200,000
300,000
400,000
700,000
Medical
150,000
200,000
250,000
400,000
1.000,000
1,300.000
2,000.000
4.400.000
$2,500,000
$3,500,000
School
All others
Total
1.
2.
3.
4.
$5,500,000 $12,500,000
S. G. Goodrich, Recollections of a Lifetime, Vol.II,
p. 380. Although GoodrichTs not always to be taken
seriously as a historian, general evidence seems to
indicate that his comments here are fairly sound.
(Goodrich is quoted by Hassold, ojd» cit., p . 126$
see also p. 126, note 11.)
Loc. cit.
Ibid., p . 382.
Ibid., p. 385.
36
United States was on the increase.
The following table
shows that Americans were turning to their own authors for
their reading:
American Authors
1830
—
40 per cent of total
1840
—
55 per cent of total
1850
—
70 per cent of total
1856
— ■ 80 per cent of total
Considering the fact that around 1818 according to Goodrich,
"It was positively injurious to the commercial credit of a
bookseller to undertake American works, unless they might be
horse’s Geographies, classical books, school books, W a t t s ’
,2
Paslms and Hymns, [S i c ] or something of that class,
the
change of attitude on the part of the public by 1856 was
little short of a revolution In prejudices and tastes.
In
thirty-six years Sydney Smith ("Who Reads an American Book?")
had received his answer, and the tide of publication was even
beginning to flow in the opposite direction— toward England
and the Continent.
By the 1850’s then, it may be said with some confidence,
that Americans were discovering their own authors, though
it was still a few years before their authors altogether dis-
1,
2.
Goodrich, on. c i t ., p. 389.
Ibid., p . I l l.
37
covered them.
In one respect— and a most important respect
to the reading public and the educators of the period— Amer­
ican authors were actually superior to all others: they and
their works were "pure” --at least in comparison.
Poe was
regrettable, but the others were immaculate. A cloud of wit1
nesses arises
for them, and the plaudits are sadlv echoed by
2
Andrew Dickson White, who lived to see changes.
Rufus Griswold* s Anthologies
(1842 , 1647, 1848)
Books that had a great deal to do with the extension
of American literary reputation and confidence were Rufus
Griswold's Readings in American Poetry; Poets and Poetry of
A me ri ca , 1842; The Prose W r i te rs , 1847; Female Poets, 1848:
and his other anthologies.
Judging by acknowledgments in
prefaces, one must assume that these works {and the Cyclopaedia
of the brothers Duyckinck) were the basis for most of the
1.
2.
Thomas B. Shaw, Mew History of English Literature (Backus
ed.), pp. 44^-451.
Comments on Poe and Bryant.
Griswold, Readings in American Poetry, p. 3.
J. R. Boyd, Elements of Rhetoric..., p. 299, quoting
the Mew York Evangelist: '*There is one gratification
in reading our best American poets— and this is em­
phatically true of Bryant— we mean the purity of
thought and sentiment which they maintain. How
different from the poetry which emanated from some
of the most celebrated of the British poets. From
the days of Shakespeare, Dryden, and Pope, down to
those of Byron and Shelley, much profaneness and
vulgarity was intermingled.
Milton, Cowper, Mont­
gomery, and Wordsworth, and other names, are ex­
ceptions
Autobiography, Vol. I, pp. 384-385.
38
anthologies and treatises on American literature that were
produced before 1870.
Griswold’s preface reveals that what
was a mere hope in the mind of Lorenzo Knapp in 1829 had by
1843 become a fact— American literature was being studied in
the s chools.
This collection of specimens of American Poetry
is designed principally for the use of schools.
The books hitherto published for this purpose
have been mainly or entirely compiled from the
writing of foreigners.
It is believed that
even in a literary point of view this is in­
ferior to none now before the public, and that
in some respects it is superior to all others.
The poems which it contains are essentially
American, in spirit as well as by origin. The
themes of many of them are from our own his­
tory; they relate to the grand and beautiful
in our scenery; or assert the dignity and rights
of man as recognized in our theory of govern­
ment ....A book of this kind has long been wanted
in our schools, in which our own authors have
been unknown, while others, frequently inferior
in merit, have been familiar.1
He goes on to speak of the "generally deepening interest in
American letters."
He assures the reader that "festive
songs and amatory poems" have been excluded as unfit for
"very young persons," though he has commented earlier on
the inherent freedom of our literature from such decadent
licentiousness.
The book was widely and favorably known;
it probably served as an opening wedge for the study of
1.
2.
Griswold, op. pit., p. 3
Goodrich, op. c i t ., p. 382.
2
39
American literature by providing a convenient text for use
in elementary and secondary schools.
And this stream of
influence upon college curricula is important; it is fairly
clear that the study of our own literature began in the
elementary and secondary schools long before it found a foot1
hold in the colleges, and that for many years the subject
received more extensive treatment in secondary institoitions
2
than in colleges.
The Duyckincks1 Cyclopaedia (1855)
Another of the books that paved the way for the study
of American literature in the colleges was the Cyclooaedia of
3
American Literature by E. A. and G. L. Duyckinck.
Several
colleges
(See Page 53) list it among their reference books,
and it was accepted generally as an excellent source book
1.
2.
White, 0£. cit., pp. 8-9
Boyd, ££. cit., p. 3
Cleveland, Compendium of American Literature, Preface.
Griswold, o£. cit., p. iv
George B. Cheever, The American Commonplace Book of
Poetry. (See Page 42, Note 2")
Mae J . Evans, How Much Work Is Done in American
Litera­
ture in the High Schools and by What Methods?
School Review, Vol. II, (October, 1903), pp. 647656.
(Iowa)
Cyclopaedia of American Literature; embracing personal
and critical notices of authors, and selections from
their writings. From the earliest period to the pres­
ent day: with Portraits, Autographs, and other Illus­
trations. Evert A. Duyckinck andGeorge
L. Duyckinck.
New York: Charles Scribner, 1855.
(Vol. I, xvi / 676
pages; Vol. II, xiv / 781 pages).
40
for data on American literature and authors as soon as it
was published,
A combination of biography, anthology,
criticism, and social history, it was well adapted to the
level of interest in literature which existed in its time.
Its general tone is scholarly, and it shows an inclination
on the part of its authors to bring new attention to the
1
literary and cultural development of the South and West.
The brothers Duyckinck recognized to some extent the impor­
tance to literature of its social and academic settings;
2
five libraries, six learned societies, and twenty colleges
are described.
An attempt also was made to give attention
3
to the earlier periods of American literary history.
W. T. Coggeshall: Poets and Poetry of the West (1860)
The attention given the South and West was not su f ­
ficient at least in the estimation of some Southern critics;
but an anthology of Southern poetry remained only a project
as a result of the outbreak of war.
However, the 'West was
better served; a book appeared in 1860 which focused atten­
tion on the West as a field of literary endeavor— W. T,
1.
2.
3.
Preface, p. viii.
Harvard, Yale, College of New Jersey, Columbia, University
of Pennsylvania, Brown, Dartmouth, Rutgers, Franklin
(Georgia') College, St. John's (Maryland), North Caro­
lina, Vermont, Bowdoin, Union, College of Charleston,
South Carolina College, Hamilton, Virginia, College
of the City of New York, Michigan.
Hassold, ££. cit., p. 114.
41
Coggeshall's Poets and Poetry of the W e s t .
This work is made
up mostly of commonplace, moralizing, uninspired rhyming,
but here and there light shines through.
Local color poems
are plentiful, the Indian— and not the Longfellow Indian-appears as a subject, and there is some evidence of a sense
of social transition.
The following titles are a fair sam­
ple: "To an Indian Mound," "The Artisan," "The Kusquitoes,"
"Song of the Reaper," "Song of the Press," "The Hoosier's
Nest."
The editor emphasizes the fact that the work is n o n ­
professional— "The poets of the West are, or have been law­
yers, doctors, teachers, preachers, mechanics, farmers, editors, printers, and housekeepers.
..1
The work has none of
the exuberance which one would expect to come out of the u n ­
trammelled West; the poems are stilted, reminiscent, respect­
able, and conventional.
In literature as in educational
thought, the West still faced east.
Yet Coggeshall's book
shows that there was a considerable interest in poetry on the
frontier, and that the Y/est was sufficiently interested in
itself to use, to some extent at least, the local scene for
literary material, and to produce a w o r k devoted entirely to
its own authors.
Other Works
The periou. 1830-1860 saw the production of other
1.
Preface, p. v i .
42
1
local poetry books
and of Annuals and Gift Books too nu­
merous and too insignificant individually to deserve men­
tion, but representing in sum the froth on the mounting
wave of American literary consciousness.
There were other
works of varying influence and importance— Samuel Kettell’s
2
ill-fated Specimens of American Poetry (1829) from which
Griswold and others, at a more favorable season, derived
material; William Dunlap’s rambling and reminiscent History
of the American Theatre (1832); George B. Cheever’s Ameri­
can Commonplace Book of Poetry (1831) " Particiilarly suit3
able for the use of colleges, academies and schools;"
George P. Morris's American Melodies: Containing a Single
Selection from the Production of Two Hundred Writers
(c .
1840); William Cullen Bryant’s Selections from the American
Poets
(1840); Keese's The Poets of America, Illustrated by
One of Her Pa inters (Vol. I, 1840; Vol. II, 1842); and Thomas
Powell fS The Living Authors of America
(1850)•
Pour works by Continental Europeans reveal that there
1.
2.
3.
For example: The Rhode Island B o o k : Selections in Prose
and Vers_e f rom the Writings of Rhode Island Citizens.
(Providence and Boston, 1841. Pp. vii / 352.")
This
book contains the poem "Old Grimes" (pp. 116-118) by
Albert G. Greene, which, in the form of a song, is
something of a local classic.
See also: S, Poster Damon, Holley Chivers, Friend of Poe.
This anthology failed miserably. See: Hassold, 0£. c i t .
p p . 53—54.
North American Review, quoted by Hassold, ojo. c i t ., p. 71.
43
was a growing interest in American literature even out­
side the English speaking nations: the "Sketch of American
Books" in Brockhous's Konversations-Lexlkon (1835), Philatre
Chasles's Etudes sur la litterature et les moeures des AngloAmericains au xix siecle (1852), F. F. L. Herrig's1 Handbuch
der nordamerikanischen Nationalliteratur
(1854),
and
Nicholas Trttbner's Bibliographical Guide to American Litera­
ture (1855j enlarged edition 1859) .
This last ?/ork is to be
regarded as of considerable significance.
It was recognized
in the United States and England as important as soon as It
was published, and the whole first edition was sold within
2
four months.
Exterior Influences: Pro and Contra
Why did not American literature begin to appear,
then, in college curricula generally during this period?
Why were its beginnings deferred, for the most part, until
after 187.0?
From 1830 to 1860 the spirit of nationalism
was burning brightly, British reviewers had to some extent
jarred alive national literary consciousness, colleges were
Increasing in numbers, and here and there were people like
1.
2.
"America's literary publications— as the preceding
sketch undoubtedly has shown— at present consti­
tute an independent literature and command respect."
Quoted by Hassold, ojo. cit., p. 119.
Hassold, _op. c it ., p. Ill,
44
"William Austin Seeley, Esq." who, in the midst of stren­
uous living, found time for literary pursuits.
Yet there
was no burgeoning of American literature in the colleges.
Reasons may be conjectured.
In spite of the mass of critical, biographical,
anthological, and bibliographical works, one must agree with
Hassold that "There is not one real history of American lit1
erature before the Civil War."
It is difficult to imagine
any one of the books described, as a basic text in collegiate
use, and the reason for this is not far to seek; they were
not written for use in college classes.
The humanistic
theory of education as discipline and acquisition of infor­
mation found no room for literature in the vernacular as a
part of class instruction; consequently there was no demand
for college texts in the field.
The popular demand was suf­
ficient after 1840 to support anthologies, and after 1850 to
support biographical-critical works like the Duyckincks1
Cyclopaedia.
But before the Civil War there was not enough
interest in historical, evolutionary aspects of American lit­
erature to override the "classical" attitude of the colleges
and support sound, historical study of the subject.
The same
negative forces that prevented the writing of a good history
of American literature made impossible the development of
1.
Hassold, op. c i t ., p. 1.
45
American literature courses in the colleges.
sufficient demand; the time was not yet ripe.
There was not
Although be­
tween 1830 and 1860 American taste was turning, in general,
toward American productions, there lingered a stout preju­
dice in favor of English rather than American literature.
In
1838 Edward S. Gould had published his Lectures Delivered Be­
fore the Merchantile Library Association, seemingly as a re­
tort to Knapp’s book, asserting the superiority of English
1
letters and belittling American.
Gould was probably not
alone in his opinion.
And in all fairness it must be pointed out that the
period 1830-1870 was a time of flowering for British litera­
ture.
Byron, Scott, and Dickens were particularly well aligned
2
with the emotional needs of the nation; the impact of Darwin's
theory and the attendant controversy drew the attention of
Americans overseas; and the work of the mid-century giants abroad
In poetry, essay, and scientific writing made hard competition
for aspiring American men of letters.
Again, there was (and still is, to an extent) an aca-
1.
2.
Henry Louis Mencken, The American Language (4th edition),
p. 164, n. 2.
White, 0£. cit., Vol. I, pp. 15-16.
W. B. Cairns, On the Development of American Literature
from 1815 to 1835, p. 15.
William A. Dunning, The British Empire and the United
States, pp. 196-198.
Goodrich, 0£. cit., Vol. II, pp. 100 ff.
See also How I was Educated Papers. in The College and
Church.
46
demic prejudice against class-room discussion of the works
of living authors— a feeling based in part on the not alto­
gether unsound principle that time and perspective are the
most satisfactory instruments for assaying literary merit,
and in part on a gentlemanly consideration for those of
whom some unkind words might have to be said in the course
of critical discussion.
And until 1870 many of the American
authors who might, otherwise, have been taken into the curri­
culum as classics were still alive.
The whole idea of dealing
with contemporary writers near at hand seemed to the nine1
teenth century college professors inexpedient and uncouth.
Furthermore, though the Jacksonian conception of de m ­
ocracy had taken over the nation politically, it had made
little or no dent in the academic front; the universities re ­
mained aloof and Federalist in philosophy.
realigning curricula did not last.
Experiments in
No college seems to have
made use of Knapp’s book; it is significant that he dedicated
it to a lawyer rather than to a teacher and hoped that it
would find its way into the "schools."
He seems never to
have expected colleges to take any interest in it.
For rea­
sons already mentioned and of which, as an editor, he must
1.
See, for example, T. B. Shaw, A Complete I.Ianual... (1868).,
p. 4: "All living writers are, for obvious reasons
excluded,"
47
have been aware, the idea of studying literature as litera­
ture did not prevail in college circles.
In the ysars immediately before the Civil War, in
the turmoils of its progress, and in the years immediately
after it, the foundations for the modern study of American
literature were laid.
Before there could be a real study
of American literature, there had to be a national litera­
ture ; and before that could be, there had to be a nation
and a quickened national consciousness.
Until slavery and
secession were dead issues there was no nation and no hope
1
of one.
By 1870 "the question whether that nation...so
conceived and so dedicated can long endure" had been a n ­
swered.
The war had given the nation unity, and a new sense
of tragedy and victory; the United States had at last its
2
saga and its romantic lost cause.
The war had been instuctive.
The founding of land grant colleges under the Morrill
3
Act definitely broadened the academic franchise;
the new in-
1.
2.
3.
Henry Cabot Lodge, Studies in History, pp. 357-358.
Charles F, Thwing, op. ci~t:., p. 304. "The history of
people in general, as well as in America, was
quickened by the civil war....It touched the life
of the university as well as the life of the state.
It quickened our sense of humanity as well as our
national conscience."
Faulkner, oje. c i t ., p. 215. By 1860 there were 17 state
universities.
48
stitutions drew heavily on the older, conservative col­
leges for their faculties, but concessions seem to have
been made.
The introduction of courses in American lit­
erature by professors with no study of the subject in their
background and coming from colleges without offerings in
1
the subject is not uncommon.
When this situation developed,
the new course was probably the result, directly or indirectly,
of local demand.
With the coming of the elective system in many col2
leges after the Civil War, the opinion and tastes of under­
graduates suddenly became of some importance.
The increase
3
of per capita wealth
catised heavier enrollemnts, and with
4
these came a somewhat less elite type of student.
In an
effort to offer courses calculated to exert attraction, it
is possible that professors, following a common sense line
of procedure, turned to the more or less familiar scene for
1.
2.
3.
4.
For example, John Seely Hart (Princeton) , Moses Coit
Tyler (Michigan), Nathan W. Fiske (Amherst), Charles
Morris (Georgia), W. M. Baker (Illinois).
Thwing, ojd. cit., pp. 312 ff.
Edwin Grant IJexter, A History of Education in the United
States, p. 291.
Richard G. Boone, Education in the United States, p. 189.
Thwing, o£. cit.. p. 432.
Cf. Thomas Stearns Eliot, Essays Ancient and Modern, p. 173.
"The universities have to teach what they can to the
material they can get: nowadays they even teach English
in England.”
Abraham Flexner, Universities: American, English. German,
p. 50, n. 10. "All the tests made of the scholarship of the high school pupil concur In showing the
inferiority of the product.”
49
subject matter.
Students might be expected to take more
interest in their own than in foreign literature.
The of­
ferings in English literature, moreover, were in many col­
leges formidably laced with linguistics.^ The influence of
2
the German universities had brought in Anglo-Saxon, and be­
fore long the line had been extended, in the graduate schools,
back to Sanskrit, via Gothic, Frisian, Icelandic.
The study
of Ballads, Shakespeare, and Chaucer became more popular, but
3
on a strongly linguistic basis.
English literature by 1870
had been made respectable in many academic circles; it was
not as difficult and eliminative as Greek or Latin but it
4
could be taught with the same underlying philosophy.
It
supplied discipline.
1.
2.
3.
4.
Shaw's text held on in the smaller
Thwing, o£. cit., p. 442. "Such literary study is
founded also upon the knowledge of the history of
our English speech..."
See also William Morton Payne, English in American Uni­
versities (1895).
Thwing, o p . bit.., pp. 320-321.
For example, see the catalogues of the following insti­
tutions: Bowdoin (1856) pp. 21-22; Minnesota (18741875) pp. 45-46; Missouri (1873), p. 65.
See Catalogues of the following institutions: RandolphMacon (1877-1878), p. 17: "Nine years ago..." English
was put on equal footing with Latin and Greek and
"...the same rigorous method was pursued." Western Re*
serve (1870-1871), p. XVIII, Missouri (1873), p. 65:
"There is no good reason wny Milton or Shakespeare, or
Gray, and some of the best prose writers, should not
be studied and analyzed with the same severe attention
which is given to the Greek and Latin classics."
Illinois (Industrial University) (1870-1871), p. 22:
"In the arrangement of the studies in this depart­
ment the endeavor has been to present as thorough
and extended a drill in grammatical and philological
50
colleges, but the influential institutions plunged heavily
on linguistics.
Eventually the overemphasis produced a
9
revolt within English departments'"
(a revolt, by the way,
which reached only recently^ its logical conclusions at
Harvard);
but in the years from 1870 to 1800, American
literature must have provided a gracious relief from lin­
guistics for undergraduates.
1.
2.
3.
study, and in the authors and history of our language,
as to offer the advantages, as far as may be, of the
ordinary study of Latin and Greek,"
See Catalogues of the following institutions: Chicago
(1895-1896), pp. 134 ff.; California (1883-1884), pp.
40-41; Johns Hopkins (1879-1880), p. 82: Harvard
(1869-1870), pp. 31-33; Haverford (1870-1871), p. 13
Colgate (1871-1872), o. 21; Washington University
(1867-1868), p. 31; Wesleyan University (1873-1874),
p. 23. At the University of Vermont the linguistic
tradition went back to 1849 in which year investiga­
tion of the works of Chaucer was in progress.
(See
Catalogue 1849, p. 15) The interest in English linguis­
tics of the brilliant George Perkins Harsh did much to
turn the teaching of English in that direction.
(Pee
An Apology for the Study of English, an address at
Columbia University, November 1, 1858, which was
introductory to a series of lectures on the English
language and literature "in the post-graduate course
of Columbia College.")
William Peterfield Trent, The Teaching of English Litera­
ture, Sewanee Review, Vol. I, (Hay, 1893), pp. 257 ff.
Henry E. Shepherd TCollege of Charleston), English
Philology and English Literature, Sewanee Review,
Vol. I, (February, 1893), pp. 153-160.
William Norman Guthrie, The Vital Study of Literature,
Sewanee Review, Vol. VIII, (April, 1900), pp. 218 f f .
Enlightened Research, Saturday Review of Literature,
Vol. XL, (April 10, 1937)7 p. 8.
51
Summary
The humanitarian, liberalizing movement between 1830
and the Civil War, and the practical demands of an expanding
economy gradually prepared the ground for the realignment of
college curricula and a consequent introduction of new
courses.
The order of appearance of the new courses seems
to have been: French, German, Spanish, history, science,
English literature, American literature.
Training in oratory and rhetoric (both subjects hav­
ing classical sanction) was based on imitation, and speci­
mens of literature in the English language (both British and
American) were used as models.
In oratory particularly Amer­
ican literature in the form of speeches was used. American
poetry was useful "to point a moral and adorn a tale" in train­
ing in "Pulpit Eloquence."
English literary history in the form of lectures ap­
peared to some extent before 1850, but between 1850 and 1870
fell under the influence of German linguistics.
American
literature, though taught for two years at -Amherst, from 1827
through 1829, and at Middlebury after 1848, did not appear
generally in the curricula before 1870.
In the elementary and
secondary schools, American literature received attention much
earlier; some American material was taught at this level as
early as 1845 and perhaps before.
The influence on the col­
lege curricula, particularly as the colleges began to have to
52
face the problem of preparing teachers, was probably con­
siderable.
Behind the whole movement toward the teaching of
American literature in the colleges was the growing realiza­
tion on the part of the American people from 1830 to 1870
that American literature was worthy of attention as distinct
from British literature.
Certain books— chief among them Griswold's antholo­
gies, the Duyckincks' Cyclopaedia« and Tuckerman's Sketch
appended to Shaw's Outlines of English Literature— may be re­
garded as sources of stimulation of interest in the study of
American literature, and at the same time, by reason of their
wide sale and adoption, as evidence of a rising demand for in­
formation and discussion of the literature produced in America.
53
COLLEGES LISTING SHAW IN CATALOGUES
Antioch 1867-1868, p. 24
Bates 1864, p. 29
Baylor 1868-1869, p. 12
Bowdoin 1867-1868, p. 19
Brown 1852-1853, p. 31
Chicago 1864-1865, p. 24
Colby 1866-1867, p. 19
George Washington 1860-1861, p. 11
Indiana 1863-1864, p. 22
Kentuoky 1869-1870, p. 44
Michigan 1859, p. 40
Missouri 1867, p. 16
Cornell 1868-1869, p. 67
Middlebury 1868-1869, p.36
Ohio University 1864-1865, p. 17
Rutgers 1868-1869, p. 23
South Carolina 1867, p.14
Syracuse 1866-1867, p. 14
Virginia 1857-1858, pp. 30-31
Vermont 1866-1867 (not paged)
Washington & Lee 1868, p. 24
Wesleyan University 1858-1859, p. 44
West Virginia 1869-1870
Williams 1867-1868, p. 20
Wisoonsin 1861-1862, p. XI
COLLEGES LISTING GUIZOT IN CATALOGUES
Bates 1864, p. 29
Bowdoin 1851, p. 20
Brown 1852-1853, p. 31
Dickinson 1879-1880, p. 16
Haverford 1865-1866, p. 16
Miami (Ohio) 1867-1368, p. 20
Princeton 1870-1871, p. 34
Virginia 1857-1858, p. 30
Washington University 1867-1368, p. 31
Western Reserve 1865-1866, p. XIII
Wisoonsin 1866-1867, p. 20
COLLEGES LISTING TAINE IN CATALOGUES
Alabama 1871-1872, p. 18
Bates 1873-1874, p. 17
Brown 1872-1873, p. 28
Middlebury 1874-1875, p. 15
Wesleyan 1872-1873, p. 22
Colgate 1871-1872, p. 22
St. Lavrenoe 1873-1874, p. 15
South Carolina 1872-1873, p. 8
COLLEGES LISTING SPALDING IN CATALOGUES.
Bates 1867-1868, p. 12
Baylor 1868-1869, p. 12
Brown 1854-1855, p. 30
Colby 1866-1867, p. 19
Cornell 1868-1869, p. 66
Dartmouth 1865-1866, p. 33
George Washington 1858-1859,pp.14-15
Michigan 1859, p. 40
Ohio University 1864-1865, p. 17
Rochester 1855-1856, p. 17
South Carolina 1867, p. 14
Trinity (Conn.) 1861-1862, p.
Vassar 1866-1867, p. 41
Vermont 1854-1855, p. 20
Virginia 1857-1858, pp. 30-31
Williams 1857-1858, p. 20
Yale 1862-1863, pp. 34-35
COLLEGES LISTING DUYCKKCK IN CATALOGUES
Cornell 1868-1869, p. 67
Hamilton 1861-1862, p. 18
Michigan 1859, p. 40
Minnesota 1878-1879, p. 75
54
EARLIEST MENTION OF ENGLISH LITERATURE IN CATALOGUES*
Alabama 1844
Indiana 1858
Amherst 1838
Iowa 1862
Antioch 1853
Johns HopkinB 1879
Bates 1864
Kansas 187 5
Baylor 1868
Kentuoky 1869
Boston 1873
Lafayette 1855
Bowdoin 1856
Leland Stanford 1891
Brown 1850
Louisiana 1871
Bryn Mawr 1885
Maine 1892
Buoknell 1851
Maryland 1899
California 1870
Miami University 1867
Chicago 1864
Michigan 1854
Colby 1833
Middlebury 1838
Colgate 1852
Minnesota 1874
Columbia 1880
Mississippi 1858
Cornell 1868
Missouri 1861
Dartmouth 1848
Montana 1897
Delaware 1852
Mt. Holyoke 1889
De Pauw 1884
Nebraska 1882
Dickinson 1835 (?)
Nevada 1890
Drury 1873
New Hampshire 1892
Duke 1896
New Mexico 1887
Einory 1873
New York University 1836
Franklin & Marshall 1865 C.C.N.Y. 1847
North Caroline. 1869
Georgetown 1869
George Washington 1858
North Dakota 1884
Gouoher 1898
Northwestern 1866
Hamilton 1857
Notre Dame 1885
Hampden-Sydney 1882
Oberlin 1839
Ohio State 1882
Harvard 1857
Haverford 1864
Ohio University 1864
Heidelberg 1867 (?)
Oklahoma 1896
Hobart 1872
Oregon 1886
Howard College 1897
Pennsylvania 1830 (?)
Howard University 1868
Penn. State 1865
Idaho 1893
Pittsburgh 1878
Illinois 1869
Princeton 1845
Purdue 1876
Randolph-Maoon 1868
Richmond 1869
Roohester 1851
Rutgers 1860 (?)
St. John's College 1871
St. Lawrence 1873
St. Louis 1881 (?)
University of the South 1870
South Dakota 1892
South Carolina 1867
Southern California 1886
Swarthmore 1872 (?)
Syracuse 1866 (?)
Temple 1897
Tennessee 1867
Texas 1883
Trinity 1850
Tufts 1854
Tulane 1885
Union 1866
Utah 1882
Vanderbilt 1876
Vassar 1866
Vermont 1849
Virginia 1857
Washington University 1859
University of Washington 1880
Washington & Jefferson 1885
Washington & Lee 1868
Wesleyan 1858 (?)
Western Reserve 1870 (?)
West Virginia 1869
Williams 1857
Wisoonsin 1861
Wyoming 1892
Yale 1859
* A question mark (?) following the date indicates that because of
lack of earlier catalogue or conflicting evidence there is
a degree of uncertainty in the assignment.
CHAPTER II
THE PIONEERS: 1870-1890
Introduction
The period 1870-1890 marks the second stage in the
development of American literature as a college subject; fol­
lowing the period of its incubation as an occasional partsubject tied to rhetoric, oratory, and English literature
(1827-1870), these twenty years mark the emergence of Ameri­
can literature as an individual subject under the depart­
ments of English in a few colleges.
The purpose of this chapter is to describe the actual
courses presented in American literature during this period,
to offer an estimate of the importance of the early teachers
in the field, and to record the changes and the general
nature of the work in American literature during these years.
Ba cleground
The date 1870 has been chosen arbitrarily as a point
of departure, but there are certain historical facts that may
justify it.
Charles W. Eliot became president of Harvard in
1869, and within the next year his presence began to make it­
self felt both at Harvard and throughout the collegiate world;
55
56
Cornell, founded in 1868 as an institution where "any per­
son can find instruction in any study" was, under some dif­
ficulties, attempting to justify .'ts founder’s ideal; at
Columbia, F, A. P. Barnard was instituting important renewals;
on the west coast, at Berkeley, the newly founded (1868) Uni­
versity of California was beginning work.
Yet in all truth,
in the single year 1870 few definite changes can be cited as
evidence of the flow of the times; the whole decade 1870-1880
is required to show the signs of the forces at work in the
year 1870.
In 1870 the Civil War had been over for five years.
The North, po?/erful, prosperous, and awakened was exploiting
its victory; the South, shattered and depressed, was facing
the realities involved in its task of rebuilding and readjust­
ing.
In both sections new forces were forming out of old, and
1
tradition was giving way to experiment.
Thus by 1870, certain forces were working toward a
new American consciousness;
these may be reckoned as probable
causes of the appearance of American literature as a college
subject.
On the historical side, the Civil War had worked
powerfully on the American spirit.
The pride of Americans in
America was heightened by the reaffirmation of the Monroe Doc­
trine against France in Mexico and the calling of Great Brit-
1
.
Charles F. Thwing, A History of Higher Education in
America, pp. 305, 432.
57
ain to account for the Alabama.
In the educational world,
the expansion which reached phenomenal proportions by 1900
had already begun.
Along with it came the expansion of
American cultural horizons.
Lyceums and lecture programs
began to flourish, and the foundations for broad folk-education were being laid.
Although the Civil War temporarily r e ­
tarded institutions of higher education, out of it came stim­
uli that accelerated the humanitarian movement begun in the
1850's.
A portion of the wealth accumulating in the North
went, through philanthropy, into universities, libraries, m u ­
seums, and other cultural institutions, permitting and even
1
encouraging more extensive and more varied curricula.
It is in the field of higher education that
we can best observe the extent to which edu­
cation has become the national fetish, the
depository for that idealism which in an
earlier generation was directed toward re­
ligion.
'The objects of American philanthropy
of the last half-century have been educa­
tional institutions rather than churches....
Private philanthropy has combined with the
state to create and maintain the most elaborate
system of higher education that has ever
existed in any nation except Germany...®
By 1870 the colleges had accepted and come to regard
as established the subjects which in the mid-century years
were newcomers and a little strange.
1.
2.
German, French, Spanish,
Harold U. Faulkner, American Political and Social HIstorv,
p. 474.
Samuel Eliot Morison and Henry Steele Commager, The
Growth of the American Republic, Vol. II, pp. 308 ff.
58
Italian, history (except American), science, and English
literature had been added to the old-time staples--Hebrew,
Greek, Latin, theology, and mathematics.
Of the 98 insti­
tutions founded by 1870, 63 were offering definite work in
English literature.
Departments of English
English departments in general were in 1870 not very
different from what they had been;
the total increase In
courses in English literature was due largely to the Increase
in the total number of colleges.
For the most part, English
departments were still operating on the basis of Shaw's or
Spalding's English Literature in the form of "Lectures to sen­
iors,"
supplemented in the larger institutions by work in l in­
guistics, Shakespeare, and Milton.
Offerings in English (se­
lected at random) follow:
1
University of Virginia 1871-1872
(Professor George F. Holmes)
School of History, General Literature and Rhetoric
Glass of History: Ancient and Modern History
Class of Literature and Rhetoric: Composition,
Classics, History of English Literature
(Shaw-Tuckerman and Shaw-Smith texts)
Class of Political Economy
2
College of Hew Jersey 1870-1871
(Professor James C. Welling)
Freshmen: Elocution (Phonology of the English
Language) Rhetoric (Hart's Composition and
Rhetoric)
1.
2.
University of Virginia, Catalogue, 1871-1872, pp. 23-24.
College of New Jersey, Calendar 1870-1871, pp. 32, 33, 34.
59
College of Mew Jersey 1870-1871 (Continued)
Sophomores: Rhetoric; Craik's English of Shakespeare;
Composition
Juniors: English Language (Marsh's Origin and History
of the English Language); Composition; "Elocution
T A 11 requiredT
Seniors: English Literature (Shaw's Manual); Composi­
tion; Elocution (All reqiiired)
English Literature— Literary Criticism
(Senior Elective— Modern History: Guizot's
European Civilization; American Civiliza­
tion; Philosophy of Ristory)
1
Ohio University 1870-1871
Juniors: English Literature (Shaw) two terms
Elocution
2
Dartmouth College 1870-1871
Freshmen: Rhetoric— Themes and discussions in
English history
Sophomores: Rhetoric— Themes and Declamations
Juniors: Thetoric— Themes and Declamations;
De Vere's Studies in English
Seniors: Rhetoric— Shaw; Lectures on Language
and Literature
3
Brown University 1870-1871
(Professor T. Whiting Bancroft)
Sophomores: Rhetoric— Philology; essays; Elocution
Juniors: Rhetoric, Lectures on the history of the
English language; Shaw; Declamation
Seniors: English and American history
1.
2.
3.
Ohio University, Catalogue 1870-1871, pp« 16, 17.
Dartmouth College, Catalogue 1870-1871, pp. 40, 41, 42,
43.
Brown University, Catalogue 1870-1871, pp. 20, 21, 22.
60
1
University of Georgia 1871
(Professor Charles Morris)
Rhetoric and Belles Lettres
Freshmen: Composition
Juniors: Blair's Lectu.res
Seniors: Smith-Tuckerman 1s (Shaw's) History
of English and American Literature
2
Harvard University 1870-1871
(James Russell Lowell,
Professor of Belles
Lettres)
(Francis J. Child, Pro­
fessor of Rhetoric and
Oratory)
Freshmen: Elocution
Sophomores: Themes; Elocution
(Elective— Anglo-Saxon)
Juniors: Themes
(Electives— Anglo-Saxon, Elocution)
Seniors: As Juniors
American Literature in Colleges and Universities: 1870-1880
Examination of catalogues for the decade 1870-1880
reveals the fact that American literature was emerging as
a college study.
Of the 121 institutions examined, of which
109 were in existence in 1880, 26 specifically mention Ameri­
can literature or some aspect of it in their official announce­
ments.
Of the remainder, 23 were, according to catalogues,
using as a standard, textbook an edition of T. B. Shaw's E n g ­
lish Literature, which contained as a supplement an outline
1,
2.
University of Georgia, Catalogue 1871, p. 30.
Harvard University, Catalogue 1870-1871, pp. 36, 37, 38,
39.
61
1
history of American literature.
Courses in American Literature
The following are (chronologically)
the courses deal­
ing with American literature, which appear between 1870 and
1880 or immediately before this period:
Heidelberg College (1858-1859)— English Literature: American
Authors.
Original Orations, Spring Session.
Rev. E.
E. Higbee.2
Howard University (1868-1869)--English: British and American
Orators. Senior Class, first term.
English: British and American
Poets. Senior Class, second term.
Rev. Eliphalet
Whittlesey .3
University of Richmond (1869-1870)— "The lives of the most
eminent English and American writers are studied
with critical readings of some of their productions."
(Collier's English Literature) J. L. M. C u r r y .4
Cornell University (1870-1871)— "Readings with comments
are given by the Professor from English and American
authors of the nineteenth century..."
Hiram C o r s o n . 5
University of Illinois (Illinois Industrial College) (18701871)— Plistory of English and American Literature.
Third year, one t e r m .6
Baylor University (1871-1872)— H a r t 's American Literature.
Rev. W. C. Crane, Professor of Ethics and Belles
Lettres. H. T. Green, Instructor of English.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
See Page 31.
Heidelberg College, Catalogue 1858-1859, p. 8 .
Howard University, Catalogue 1868-1869, pp. 24-25.
University of Richmond, Catalogue 1869-1870, p. 17.
Cornell University, Register 1870-1871, p. 133.
University of Illinois, Circular 1870-1871, p. 22.
Baylor University, Catalogue 1871-1872, pp. 5, 13.
62
Haverford College (1871-1872)— "Throughout the course, the
study of the history and structure of the English
Language, and of English and American Literature,
will be encouraged," Cleveland's Compendium of
American Literature was studied by freshmen for one
term as early as 1868-1869,1
Hobart College (1872-1873)— "Collateral Studies in English
Literature— In the Freshman and Sophomore years,
students are expected to read, under the direction
of the Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature,
the masterpieces of the leading English and American
authors, using Reed's English Literature as a hand­
book, as far as it is applicable,
"In the Junior year, students will elect a sub­
ject in History, and in the Senior year, an English
or American author for special study, and at the
close of the year, present an essay on the Historical
subject or the Author elected*— the essay thus present­
ed to be considered the equivalent of an examination
in the particular s u b j e c t , "2
University of Mississippi (1872-1873)— H a r t 's History of
American Literature,
Seniors, First term.
J. W,
Shields,3
Iowa University
also be
models,
careful
thought
(1872-1873)— "The advanced classes will
required to study some of the best classical
both English and American, w i t h a view to the
criticism and just appreciation of their
and style,"
G. L, Pinkham, Instructor.4
Washington University (1872-1873)— Royse's American Litera­
ture studied under History, Freshmen, second term,
Truman Shaw's Manual. Seniors, first term.5
Princeton University (1873-1874)— American Literature, ac­
companied by English Literature and Composition.
Hart's American Literature. Required three terms,
senior y e a r .6 “ (1 of 7 required courses)
This course
was begun in 1872-18737 by John Seely Hart.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Haverford College, Catalogue, 1871-1872, p. 38.
Hobart College, Catalogue 1872-1873, p. 20.
University of Mississippi, Catalogue 1872-1873, pp. 88-89.
Iowa University, Catalogue 1872-1873, p. 38.
Washington University, Catalogue 1872-1873, p. 57.
Princeton University, Catalogue 1873-1874, p. 20.
Howard Mumford Jones, Moses Coit T y ler, pp. 126-127
63
Swarthmore College (1873-1874)— English Literature texts
include Cleveland's Compendium of American litera­
ture
Union College (University) (1873-1874)— Hart's Manual of
English Literature and Manual of American Literature.
Senior year.
Rev. TT.—B . WelchT^
Bates College (1874-1875)--Bain and Underwood's American
Authors.
Juniors, one term ,3
Trinity College (Connecticut) (1875-1876)— "Lectures on the
Modern Poets and on American Literature."
Juniors,
one term. Rev. E. E. Johnson.4
Tufts College (1875-1876)— American and British Oratory.
Juniors, elective. W. R, Shipman.®
University of Michigan (1875-1876)— Lectures on American
Literature.
Seniors. Moses Coit Tyler.®
University of Kansas (1875-1876)— "Normal Department,"
English and American Literature. Second year,
second session.
(Normal Department organized April
3, 1876.)7
University of North Carolina (1876-1877)--"The studies in
English Literature comprise both American and British
authors." Seniors, full year, required .8
University of Missouri (1877-1878)— "English and American
literature forms a distinctive feature of the depart
ment, and it is believed that, in time, a prominence
will be given to this branch that will surprise and
gratify the friends of the institution. The subject
is, at present, taught by the use of appropriate
text-books and manuals of literature, with occasional
lectures and illustrations drawn from concurrent
periods of history."
Use of library required. His­
tory included in department. D, R. McAnaly .9
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
Swarthmore College, Catalogue 1873-1874, p. 15.
Union College, Catalogue 1873-1874, p. 49.
Bates College, Catalogue 1874-1875, p. 19.
Trinity College (Connecticut), Catalogue 1875-1876, p. 29.
Tufts College, Catalogue 1875-1876, p. 14.
University of Michigan, Calendar 1875-1876, p. 38.
University of Kansas, Catalogue, 1875-1876, p. 32.
University of North Carolina, Catalogue 1876-1877,p. 27.
University of Missouri, Catalogue 1877-1878, pp. 10, 41,
64
Antioch College (1877-1878)--Modern European and American
Authors.
Juniors, one term, required.
0. B. Clark .1
University of Rochester (1878-1879)--"Recent English and
American Literature, or Advanced German, or Analyti­
cal Chemistry."
Seniors, third term, classical
course.
J. H. Gilmore.
Franklin & Marshall College (1879-1880)--Lectures on Ameri­
can Literature.
Juniors, one term.3
St. Lawrence University (1879-1880)--English and American
Literature. Seniors, one term.^
University of Minnesota ( 1 8 7 8 - 1 8 7 9 ) .special attention
to British and American o r a t o r s ."5
"In 1872, in the junior year of the classical
studies course, is mention of the history of English
literature and another course in later English and
American authors. After that, the word ’American 1
drops out of the bulletin and apparently does not
appear again until the entrance of a course in
American Literature."^
The library of the University included the
following: Cleveland’s Compendium of American Litera­
ture , the Duyckincks’ Cyclopaedia of American litera­
ture , Williston's Eloquence of the United States,
James’s Hawthorne TEn'glish Men of Letters Series),
Emerson’s Addresses, Tyler’s History of American
Literature; American Art Review, Atlantic Monthly
democratic Review, Harper’s Magazine, Journal of the
Franklin Institute, Hew Englander, North American
Review, Putnam’s Magazine, Scribner’s Magazine,
Western Journal,^"
Supplementary Work in American Literature
This work in American literature was supplemented in
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Antioch College, Catalogue 1877-1878, p. 27.
University of Rochester, Catalogue 1878-1879, p. 21.
Franklin & Marshall College, Catalogue 1879-1880, p. 14.
St. Lawrence University, Catalogue 1879-1880, p. 20.
University of Minnesota, Calendar 1878-1879, p. 49.
Letter: Professor Dora V. Smith, May 29, 1939.
University of Minnesota, Biennial Report of the Board of
Regents, Fiscal Years 1879-1880, pp. 71, 75, 79, 145.
65
a total reckoning, by the use, in many insitutions between
1870 and 1880, approximately, of editions of S h a w ’s English
Literature which included an account of American literature.
(See Pages 31 f.)
Wherever this was used as a basic text,
students were in contact, to some extent at least, w i t h
American material.
The following institutions list Shaw's
1
2
text as basic between 1870 and 1880; Bowdoin,
Colgate,
3
4
5
6
Dickinson, George Washington, Georgetown,
Georgia,
Heidel7
8
9
10
berg, Howard University,
Kentucky, Louisiana,
Middle11
12
13
14
bury,
Pittsburgh,
Rutgers,
St. .John's,
University of
15
16
17
18
the South, South Carolina,
Swarthmore,
Vanderbilt,
19
20
21
Vermont,
Virginia,
Washington University,
Washington 5:
22
23
Lee,
‘
West Virginia.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
21.
22.
23.
Bowdoin College, Catalogue 1870-1871, p. 19.
Colgate University, Catalogue 1871-1872, p. 21.
Dickinson College, Catalogue 1870-1871, p. 22.
George Washington University, Catalogue 1869-1870, p. 18.
Georgetown University, Catalogue 1878-1879, p. 11.
University of Georgia, Catalogue 1871, p. 30.
Heidelberg College, Catalogue 1869-1870, p. XX.
Howard University, Catalogue 1874-1876, p. 22.
University of Kentucky, Catalogue 1869-1870, p. 44.
Louisiana State University, Register 1872, p. 30.
Middlebury College, Catalogue 1868-1869, p. 15.
University of Pittsburgh, Catalogue 1879, p. 18.
Rutgers University, Catalogue 1868-1869, p. 23j
St. John's College, Catalogue 1871-1872, p. 12.
University of the South, Calendar 1870-1871, p. 30.
University of South Carolina, Catalogue 1867, p. 13.
Swarthmore College, Catalogue 1872-1873, p. 15.
Vanderbilt University, Catalogue 1876-1877, p. 34.
University of Vermont, Catalogue 1873-1874, p. 19.
University of Virginia, Catalogue 1867-1868, p. 23.
Washington University, Catalogue 1872-1873, p. 59.
Washington & Lee College, Catalogue 1868, p. 24.
West Virginia University, Catalogue 1870-1871, p. 22.
66
Moreover, there is evidence that even where American
literature does not appear as a definite course or part of a
course the subject was not entirely neglected in these and
even somewhat earlier years.
For example, St, Louis Univer-
1
sity in 1844
mentions as the title of its fifteenth annual
commencement address "English Discourse on American Oratory"
by Thomas Finney.
At Hamilton College the subjects assigned
for prize compositions in English show an interest in Ameri­
can literature and inroly serious study of it: "Descriptions
2
of Nature in American Poetry" (1866-1867),
"Longfellow and
3
Tennyson" (1870-1871), "American Humorists" and "The Charac4
teristics of the Writings of Hawthorne" (1872-1873),
"The
5
Literature of American Slavery" (1874-1875),
"James Russell
6
Lowell’s Place Among American Poets" (1875-1876), "The Ethics
7
of Longfellow's Poetry" (1876-1877),
"American and English
8
Humor" (1877-1878).
Among optional essay subjects for sen­
iors in the class of 1879 were the following: "Bryant as a
Poet of Nature," "Norwood and The Hoosier Schoolmaster as
Pictures of American Life," "Hawthorne’s House of the Seven
Gables and Holmes' Guardian A n gelt" "Thoreau's Walden,"
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
St. Louis
Hamilton
Hamilton
Hamilton
Hamilton
Hamilton
Hamilton
Hamilton
University, Catalogue 1844, p. 17.
College, Catalogue 1866-1867, p. 31.
College, Catalogue 1870-1871, p. 32.
College, Catalogue 1872-1873, p. 33.
College, Catalogue 1874-1875, p. 42.
College, Catalogue 1875-1876, p. 42.
College, Catalogue 1876-1877, p. 41.
College, Catalogue 1877-1878, p. 40.
67
"Life on the Pacific Coast as Pictured by Winthrop and Bret
liarte," "Holmes and Saxe as Humorous Poets," "Higginson’s
1
and Howells’ Novels," "The Poetry of the West."
These essay
subjects and prize composition subjects include American
materials as a consistent and continued feature, and the en­
couragement of reading and writing of the field of American
literature was thus a definite point of policy in the Eng­
lish department at Hamilton, accomplishing in all probability
at least as much as any formal course instruction might
have.
2
Again, Hobart College
included American subjects
3
prominently among those set for the Cobb Medal prize essays.
In 1868-1869, "American Prose Literature" (and "English
4
Translations of Homer") were assigned;
in 1875-1876, "The
Literatiire of the American Revolution" was one of three sub5
jects; in 1878-1879, "’
W ashington Irving" was likewise one
6
on three titles assigned.
The inclusion of an American
title among the three or four assigned was continued, indi­
cating attention to American literature as a point of de­
partmental policy.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Hamilton College, Catalogue 1877-1878, p. 23.
See Page 5, Note 2. Formal mention of American litera­
ture, 1872.
Cobb Prize Medal established 1862. See Hobart College,
Catalogue 1879-1880, p. 41.
Hobart College, Catalogue 1868-1869, p. 27.
Hobart College, Catalogue 1875-1876, p. 26*
Hobart College, Catalogue 1878-1879, p. 37.
68
At the University of California the title of an A, B,
"thesis"
(1874-1875) reveals an interest in American
litera­
ture and strikes a new note of Western regionalism--"The Pro1
spective Literature of California" by James Coffin Perkins.
The University of Iowa encouraged student reading
and discussion of literature by extra-curricular clubs; the
names of these suggest a lively interest in American litera2
ture— The Irving Institute, The Bryant Literary Club.
Men of Letters as Lecturers and Teachers
Another force which worked in the interests of the
teaching of American literature between 1870 and 1880 was
the presence in colleges of American men of letters, either
as regular members of the faculty or as special lecturers.
At Cornell, Bayard Taylor lectured on German Literature
3
(1871-1872);
in the opening year, James Russell Lowell had
delivered twelve lectures on English literature there as a
4
5
nonresident professor and lectured again In 1871-1872;
George William Curtis delivered a series of twelve lectures
6
7
on "Recent Literature" in 1868-1869 and 1871-1872.
At the
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
University of California, Register 1874-1875, p. 113.
University of Iowa, Catalogue 1865-1866, p. 55.
Cornell University, Register 1871-1872, p. 134.
Cornell University, Register 1868-1869, p. 1.
Cornell University, Register 1871-1872, p. 134.
Cornell University, Register 1868-1869, p. 1.
Cornell University, Register 1871-1872, p. 134.
69
newly founded University of California, from 1874 to 1880
Edward Rowland Sill was Professor of English Language and
1
Literature.
In 1878-1879 at Johns Hopkins University Sidney
2
Lanier was lecturing on literature.
Harvard, following a
tradition "begun with the appointment of Longfellow, maintained
touch with the literary world by the appointment of literary
men as lecturers and professors.
Longfellow’s successor as
Smith Professor of French and Spanish Languages and Litera3
tures was James Russell Lowell.
In 1869-1870 and the next
year William Dean Howells and Ralph Waldo Emerson were de4
livering lectures.
At the Medical School Dr. Oliver Wendell
Holmes was radiating a literary atmosphere.
The mere pres­
ence of these men on faculties must have called the attention
of students to the fact that an American literary world was
In process of development, whether the students were enrolled
in any formal courses in the subject or not.
The General Status of American Literature
As a Subject
The period 1870-1880, then, may be regarded as mark­
ing the initial stage of the development of the study of
American literature on the college level.
At least four in­
stitutions— Amherst, Dartmouth, Middlebury, Heidelberg— had
1.
2.
3.
4.
University of California, Register 1874-1875, p. 95.
Johns Hopkins University, Register 1879-1880, p. 2.
Harvard University, Catalogue 1855-1856, p. 7.
Harvard University, Catalogue 1869-1870, p. 8 .
70
offered an uncertain amount of work in the field well be­
fore 1870
(each had dropped it, except for the use of Shaw's
text w i t h Tuckerman's Sketch at Middlebury, by 1870), and no
doubt there was some incidental work in the subject through
the use of combination English and American literature text­
books.
But the emergence on anything like a significant
scale
(26 out of 109 institutions founded by 1880) did not
take place until this decade, 1870-1880.
During this period
there appeared the first important scholarly treatment of the
subject— M. C. Tyler's History of American Literature, 160717 6 5 , (See Pages 82 f f .) and the first college textbook de­
voted exclusively to American literature— <T» S. Hart's Manual
of American Literature.
(See Pages 94 f.)
Also to this pe­
riod must be assigned the first two distinct college courses
in American literature— Hart's course at Princeton, beginning
in 1872, and Tyler's course at Michigan, beginning in 1875.
Combining of English and American Literary Studies
The most obvious aspect of the study of American
literature in colleges at this time was its association with
English literature; no feeling of distinct, national quality
appears in any of the announcements or course descriptions•
The literature produced in the United States, it seems, was
felt to be essentially English, though— and this was an im­
portant concession— somewhat modified by geography and dif-
71
ferences of temperament.
The organization of covirses, so far as it can he de­
termined. from college catalogues, carried out this concept.
The most common practice (See Pages 61-64) was the teaching
of English and American materials side-by-side, with no
attempt at differentiation--the mixed course that still sur­
vives, particularly in "type" courses
and American," for example).
("The Kovel: English
Behind this arrangement was prob­
ably the aesthetic philosophy--that works of art are to be con­
sidered per se without relation to background or any other ex­
terior circumstance and are to be judged in terms of instrisic
emotional and intellectual content held only against absolute
1
artistic standards,
(See Pages 144 ff.)
Under this dispen­
sation no need was felt, apparently, for any particular allow­
ance for place and time of production.
Again, there was, per­
haps, more reason for regarding the literature produced in the
United States as a mere aspect of English literature in the
year 1870 than there is today (1941); many literary men were
still, in 1870, looking to England for their styles and stand­
ards •
During the period 1670-1880 only 5 of the 26 insti-
1,
Cornell University, Register 1887-1888, p, 58: "It is con­
sidered all important that students should first at­
tain to a sympathetic appreciation of what is essential
and intrinsic, before the adventitious features of
literature--features due to time and place--be con­
sidered,"
72
tutions offering work in American literature announced it
as a unit separate from English, literature, and even in these
it was given in the "English" department.
Baylor, Princeton,
Union, Michigan, and Franklin & Marshall assign, in their
catalogues at least, a degree of independence to American
literature.
In a sense, however, most of the courses did not
present American literature, at all, but merely English
litera­
ture which, through an accident of geography, happened to be
produced within the boundaries of the United States.
Neverthe­
less, they must be accorded a certain amount of consideration;
the use of the term "American" as applied to literature courses
in universities indicates a dawning sense of discrimination.
Limitations
Although there was, during this period, more atten­
tion given to American materials than has generally been
1
realized,
it is not accurate to assume that there was very
much, either in comparison with that given to other subjects
at the time or in comparison with attention given American
1.
Letter: Edwin M. Hopkins (Professor Emeritus, University
of Kansas), May 23, 1939: "In '75-'76 Whitney's
English Language is named, and American Literature
is named as part of the work; and this is a long time
before I supposed that it had attention in any Ameri­
can college..."
Fred Lewis Pattee, The Old Professor of English: An
Autopsy, Tradition and Jazz, p. 198: "...any univer­
sity which Tn '1895 taught al 1 about Whittier and
Carlyle was certainly an institution far ahead of
its time."
73
material today.
In consideration of the enormous expansion
of American literary material since 1870, it might be argued,
however, that the attention given the subject then was rela­
tively as extensive as that accorded it now.
Aside from the fact that it was generally a part of
another course and treated as an aspect of a more important
subject, American literatuire seems to have been taught from
a point of view— the aesthetic— which could not but belittle
it; by an aesthetic standard the United States had not at
this date produced many works which even approximated the
best of English literature.
Again, as a rule, its main tech­
nique was "lectures," and the whole literature work— English
and American— usually received at most only an hour a week
for the year.
Libraries were far from extensive, and text­
books generally limited to Cleveland's Compendium of Ameri1
can Literature,
the Shaw-Tuckerman combination English and
American literature text, Underwood’s English Literature:
American Authors, Royse's American Literature, and Hart's
Manual of American Literature.
The comparatively limited
adoption of John Seely Hart's book (See Page 103) may have
been caused by the "mixed*course then prevailing; the adop­
tion of a single work on American literature meant that to
1
.
According to E. C. Hassold (American Literary History
Before the Civil W a r , p. 130) Cleveland's book was
"unimportant,TI The basis for selection of its m a ­
terials was moral and political.
74
cover the field of the course another, English, literature
textbook had to be adopted, and teachers preferred, perhaps,
to confine their text to one book such as the combination
texts mentioned.
At the time Hart's book was published (1873)
it would appear that the colleges were not ready for anything
so extensive as a whole single volume devoted to the literature
of the United States.
Furthermore, the fact that in 1870-1871 a college
offered work in American literature is no guarantee that the
field was definitely established there.
As a matter of fact,
the American literature component was either seriously dimin­
ished or dropped altogether by 1880-1881 in 9 of the 26 insti­
tutions offering it in 1870-1871.
Haverford, Iowa, Washing­
ton University, Princeton, Swarthmore, Union, and Rochester
show this retrograde movement, and in 3 others, the only ves­
tige of continued work in American literature was the use of
Shaw's book as a text (Heidelberg, Howard University, and
Mississippi).
On the other hand, 14 of the 26 institutions were
continuing in 1880-1881 the work begun in 1870-1871--Cornell,
Illinois, Baylor, Bates, Trinity (Connecticut), Tufts, Mich­
igan, Worth Carolina, Missouri, Antioch, Richmond, Franklin
& Marshall, Minnesota, and St. Lawrence— so it may still be
asserted that American literature had gained at least a toe­
hold in American colleges during this period.
75
What replaced the American literature component is
not always ascertainable; generally the announcement men­
tions in its place only ''English Literature."
At Iowa, the
1
catalogue
seems to indicate a rising interest in linguis­
tics, and at Rochester "Plate and Aristotle" filled the
place of the American elective.
2
It appears likely that in
this decade, particularly in the larger institutions, the
swing was away from the rather elementary survey courses In
English and .American literature and toward more specialized,
linguistic -work in Anglo-Saxon, Chaucer, Spenser, Shakes­
peare, and Milton.
Influence of Linguistic Studies
In 1876 the Johns Hopkins University began its work,
and its influence in the field of American collegiate educa­
tion became very powerful almost immediately.
In the view
of many, it was, in the recent words of Abraham Plexner, "the
first real university in the United States."
Its orestige
as a training school for teachers was far-flung.
As far away
as Texas, in a speech full of the usual inaugural fire and
local pride, it was said:
1.
2.
3.
University of Iowa, Catalogue 1880-1881, p. 18
University of Rochester, Catalogue 1883-1884. p. 21.
Abraham Plexner, Universities : American, English, and
German.
76
Quite recently the following statement was
published in the newspapers of Texas: "Over
one hundred of those instructed at Johns Hop­
kins University during the six years of its
existence have become professors of colleges
and academies ."1
The speaker went on to hope aloud that the University of
Texas would rise to similar power and eminence in the aca­
demic world.
The predominant influence at Johns Hopkins in the
field of literary scholarship was German, that is to say,
linguistic.
Until 1879, no English offering appears in
o
its catalogue; for 1879-1880'" the courses were Anglo-Saxon,
Chaucer, and Shakespeare.
In 1880-1881 the only non-linguis-
tic note was Sidney Lanier's lecture, "The Development of
the Modern English N o v e l . T h e
strong linguistic tone con­
tinues, with a single break in 1890-1891--"Modern Authors,"
4
5
offered for the one year only — down to 1905-1906.
It would, of course, be grossly inaccurate to assume
that all professors trained in philology directly hindered
the development- of American literature as a college study.
For instance, James V/. Bright, though basically a philolo-
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Universitv of Texas, Inaugural Address, Catalogue 18831884, p. 74.
Johns Hopkins University, Register 1879-1880, pp. 22-23.
Johns Hopkins University, Register 1880-1881, p. 60.
Johns Hopkins University, Register 1890-1891, p. 78.
Johns Hopkins University,
Register 1905-1906, p. 156.
77
1
gist, was not without interest in American literature.
But
the general force of their influence, particularly in graduate
schools
(where the line of work opened up by Moses Goit Tyler
might well have been continued) , was in opposition or indif­
ferent to the general study of literature as literature
(rather than as philological phenomenon) whether English or
American.
From the philological point of view there was little
to be studied in modern English literature (since 1800, that
is) and practically nothing in American literature.
Moses Coit Tyler: Scholar and Teacher (1855-1900)
Important impetus to the study of American literature
was given by the publication during this period (1870-1880)
of a book— A History of American Literature, 1607-1765 bjr
Moses Coit Tyler, in November, 1878.
This work is to be re­
garded as the first solid, scholarly production in the field
of American literary history and criticism, and as such its
genesis is worth tracing.
Origins of Tyler's Interest in American Literature
The author's interest in American history and litera­
ture had been of long duration, and in the circumstances of
1.
See H. M. Jones, American Scholarship and American Litera­
ture, American Literature, Vol. I (May, 1936), p. 122.
See also Page 133.
78
his life may he seen the influences which to a greater or
less degree were shaping the thought of the nation.
He was born of New England parentage but spent his
boyhood in the new West at Detroit.
Here he experienced
1
the excitement and enthusiasm of the Mexican War.
He went
to the University of Michigan in 1852 and in the same year
contributed an article to the Michigan Sybil which reveals
his early interest in literature as an agent of history and
2
politics— "Eloquence Versus Tyranny."
In 1853 he trans3
ferred to Yale, where he was disappointed to find no outlet
4
for his literary interests.
But whatever the lack of liter­
ary activity at Yale, there was no lack of political activ­
ity; the slavery question was becoming more and more pressing,
and the undergraduates were excited and concerned.
As a
sophomore Tyler took very seriouslv the political symptoms
5
of the impending conflict.
He was fiercely antislavery
and antisecession.
A letter dated March 23, 1856 describes
a meeting at New Haven for the purpose of raising money to
supply a party of Kansas Freestate emigrants with the new
Sharps repeating rifle.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Tyler arose and donated the first
Howard Mumford Jones, The Life of Moses Coit Tvler, pp.
16-17.
Ib i d ., p. 39.
Jones, o£. cit., p. 39.
Ib i d ., p. 48. Cf. Observations of Andre\f/ Dickson White,
Autobiography, Vol. I, p. 29.
Jones, o£. c i t ., p. 51.
79
1
sum--enough to purchase one weapon.
Ill health prevented his personal participation in
the Civil War, hut he followed its course with fervid in­
terest a nd a mounting sense of the importance of the American spirit and its implications•
In Boston, where he had
gone for medical attention, he heard Emerson lecture at a
meeting sponsored by Lowell, Whittier, and other literary
3
men.
Thus at an early stage of Tyler's intellectual d e ­
velopment, the historical and the literary interests were
intermingled, with the historical elements always predominat­
ing.
In 1863 Tyler travelled in England, lecturing on
"American Humor," "American Oratory," "The Pilgrim Fathers,"
4
and generally attempting to interpret the American spirit.
5
He noted the lack of real democracy In England and the utter
6
Ignorance of American history and geography.
His trip seems
to have heightened his feeling that the United States had
certain virtues not to be found abroad, and that the spirit
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Jones, op . cit. pp. 52-53
Ibid., PP . 73 f
I b i d . , P. 79.
I bid., p. 98.
I bid.t P» 103.
I b i d . , P« 124. Cf. James Fenimore Cooper's impressions
See Robert E. Spiller, Fenimore Cooper: Critic of
____ „ ^
_ _ Times,
His
p. 142: "Next to American pride in themselves, European ignorance of America was, to him,
the greatest obstacle against which the culture of
his nation had to contend."
80
of its people was worthy of record and interpretation.
Tyler became professor of rhetoric and English
1
literature at the University of Michigan in 1867.
The
University was a flourishing and vigorous institution,
orobably, at this date,
the most progressive college in the
2
United States.
He was to remain at Michigan until 1881.
During these years he laid the foundation for all later
scholarly work in American literature.
His impressive
History of American Literature, 1607-1765 was merely one ex­
pression of his lively and diverse interest in the American
scene and its backgrounds.
T y l e r ’s Career: A History of American Literature, 1607-1765
Tyler had considered, for a while, the possibilities
of a purely literary career, utilizing American history for
the purposes of fiction.
He half projected a novel dealing
with the loosening and breaking up of the Calvinistic spirit
3
in the United States,
and as late as 1889 historical fic­
tion was in his mind as a possible outlet for his ideas on
4
American history.
But he lacked confidence in his ability
as a creator of literature.
1.
2.
3.
4.
In 1869 he wrote:
University of Michigan, Catalogue 1867-1868, p. 5,
Cornell University, Register 1881-1882, p. 12.
Jones, ojo. c i t ., p. 139.
Moses Coit Tyler 1835-1900 (Selections from his letters
and diaries made and edited by Jessica Tyler Austen),
p. 235.
81
On the other hand, when I think of the sphere
of an American scholar and writer giving h i m ­
self up, w i th pure heart, to the profound and
conscientious study of the vast questions which
now brood over our l i f e - social and p o l i t i c a l cultivating wisdom that his countrymen and the
future may have the benefit of it; and using
his powers of style both with tongue and pen
to help American civilization to be a success;
then I have before me a field of work which I do
feel qualified to take the highest rank i n .♦,.
As an artist I should be no higher than second
rate, and might not be so high; as a literary
and philosophical servant of American society,
I might be first rate.-*Thus it came about that at Michigan during the year
2
1875-1876 he lectured to his seniors on American literature.
The idea had long been germinating, and the course of lec5
tures had been projected for 1872-1873.
One of his auditors
wrote:
The lectures were merely chapters from a book
at that time unpublished, but we students had
the advantage of having the book interpreted
to us by the trained, sympathetic voice of
the author who had evidently enjoyed to the
full the delight of preparing it. The lecture
room was filled with students and visitors
from the city, and I shall never forget the
twinkle in his eyes or the drollery in his
voice as he interpreted to us some of the
1.
2.
3.
Moses Coit Tyler 1855-1900 (Selections from his letters
and diaries made and edited by Jessica Tyler Austen),
p . 43.
Cornell University, Register 1875-1876, p. 38.
Cornell University, Register 1872-1873, pp. 32-33.
Cornell University, President’s Report to the Board of
Regents for Year Ending June 30, 1872, pp. 34-35.
82
verses of the early rhymesters who may well
have been filled with a poetic spirit but who
clearly lacked a poet's ear.l
The lectures on American literature continued at
the University of Michigan with one year's lapse (18782
1879)
until 1881 when Tyler went to the new proifes sorship
3
at Cornell University.
In 1878 his History of American
1.
2.
3.
Jeremiah W. Jenks, The Rev. Moses Coit Tyler, A. M. LL. D.,
The Michigan Alumnus, Vol. VII, No. 62 (March, 1901),
pp. 221-235.
Quoted by Jones, 0£. cit., p. 327
(Chapter VI, n. 73).
Jones accepts this statement of the chronological r e ­
lationship between the lectures and the book as cor­
rect (i.e. the book came before the lectures) and
disagrees with Pred Lewis Pattee: " Pattee is In
error in stating (The Reinterpretation of American
Literature, ed. Norman Poerster, New York, 1928,
p." 4) that ’T y l e r ’s volumes on the Colonial and
Revolutionary periods were first put on paper as
lectures to college students.’ The situation was,
in fact, reversed."
Moses Coit Tyler, n, 327
(Chap­
ter VI, n. 73) .
The lectures were given for the first time In 1875. They
were planned for the year 1872-1873. In July, 1875,
Tyler did not have the book planned, and had not even
decided on its general scope and nature— this accord­
ing to Jones's own summary of the situation (ojo. cit.,
pp. 175-176),
Jeremiah Jenks received his A. B.
from the University of Michigan in 1878 (University
of Michigan, General Catalogue of Officers and Stu­
dents 1837-1901, p. 61); he was a senior (the lec­
tures were for seniors) 1877-1878, Thus he is cor­
rect in stating that the "lectures were chapters from
a book" ; these lectures were probably the early
chapters of the History on which Tyler had been
working since 1875.
But Pattee is also correct:
the earlier series of lectures (1875-1876, for in­
stance) must have been delivered before the book
had begun to take shape and were very probably pre­
liminary to it.
University of Michigan, Catalogue 1878-1879.
Cornell University, Register, 1881-1882, p. 12.
83
Literature, 1607-1765 was published.
Genesis of Tyler's History
The circumstances leading up to the publication are
significant, throwing light on the nature of the stimuli
that urged the production of works on American literature
in this period.
Howard Mumford Jones finds behind the book,
on the personal side, Tyler's desire to work out a scholarly
production, his feeling of a need for participation in Ameri­
can life, the realization of the possibility of explaining
the national spirit through some principle of social develop­
ment, the wish to inculcate national culture through litera­
ture, and the need of a focus for "his tremendous, his wide
curiosity, his emotional disturbances, his vague spiritual
1
unrest."
Jones furnishes the following account of the
background of the work:
George L. Putnam, the publisher, aware of
Tyler's promise, and feeling that a manual
of American literature would be a paying ven­
ture, wrote Tyler asking him to compile one.
(July 12, 1875)...,At first Tyler saw nothing
further in the idea than such a manual as he
was to make out of Morley's book; he replied
therefore to the effect that he would undertake
the work, and suggested that he suffix a review
of American literature to a revision of Arnold's
Manual of English Literature— a mere class­
room job.
Putnam, however, wanted something
original, and Tyler withdrew from the scheme on
1.
Jones,
ojd
. c i t ., p.
174
84
the ground that he did not wish to waste his
time on a mere text-book.^
The offer was repeated, July 31, 1875, and Tyler replied in
part, August 9, 1875:
With God’s help, I mean to do in this life no
more second-hand hack work of any sort, Alas
I have done enough already. If I do this work,
I must do it thoroughly and artistically from
knowledge of my own in every case; from a
direct study of the quellen. I am a special
student of American history, and have paid par­
ticular attention to what we dignify as litera­
ture in America in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries. Still, if I make a critical survey
of the field I shall need to run over it again.
So of the greater an d more fruitful period of
our century .2
The writing of the work proceeded with a certain
amount of delay and difficulty.
On August 27, 1875 he
wrote to Putnam giving in definite form a statement of one
of the stimuli to American literary work at this time —
the Centennial year 1876:
With reference to the time of completion, I
can see the great importance of having the
book ready for taking the Centennial enthu­
siasm at its flood. All that I can say is
that I will do my best. If I had my whole
time and the necessary books within m y reach
I could do it. As It is, I have my univer­
sity work to occupy and fatigue me; and shall
1.
2.
Jones, 0£. cit;., PP» 175-176.
Austen, ojo. cit., p. 94.
85
have to borrow and buy and bring here works
which in New York or Boston would be accessi­
ble to me in public libraries .1
The last chapter arrived in Putnam's hands on October 18,
2
1878.
The Place of Tyler's History in American Literature
3
The book was published in November, 1878 and was
well received by the critics.
The Atlantic Monthly review
showed, however, a touch of the prejudice against American
literature, deriving from the prevailing belletristic
standard:
...the incredulous reader, especially after
noting the dates on the back and seeing that
the two volumes bring the history...only as
far as 1765, is half disposed to leave the
volumes unopened, lest they should prove to
be backgammon boards or lunch boxes.
To take
an interest in American literature prior to
1765, seems to him very like the marchioness's
delectation over orange-peel and water, re­
quiring a very hard make-believe A
1.
2.
3.
4.
Jones, op.c i t ., pp. 177^178.
See also: A Century of American Literature, 1776-1876
(Henry A. Beers, editor). New York: Henry Holt and
Company, 1878, p. iii: "The retrospective turn
given to American thought by the celebrations of
the Centennial year, has stimulated an interest in
the history of our literature."
Jones, ojc. c i t ., p. 330 (Chapter VII, n. 5).
Ibid., p. 187.
Atlantic Monthly. Vol. XLIII, No. 257, (March, 1870),
p. 405.
86
What the reviewer of the Atlantic Monthly found difficult to
accept as literature would have presented no difficulty at
all to the less exclusive-minded Samuel Lorenzo Knapp (q.v.)
of an earlier generation,
Tyler's two volumes were solid, strongly documented
literary history and criticism— the first thoroughly docu­
mented work based on primary sources to be done in the field
of American literature.
They have never been altogether
superseded for their period, and they still appear as authori­
tative items in bibliographies of American history and litera1
ture.
As Tyler was careful to insist, his History was no
mere compilation of other men's labors:
Observe that even if I were willing to compile
a book (as Swinton or Quackenbos does) out of
other people's labors, I could not do this in
American literature; for other people have not
wrought in this field sufficiently to make
their labor available in that way.,,,I find
almost no help from previous investigators
of American literature in the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries ,2
Tyler utilized, so far as they ?/ent, the books written
on American literature before his time; his list included
C-riswold's Readings in American Literature
1,
2.
(1843), Kettell's
See Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol. I,
p, 365.
Letter: It!. C. Tyler to G. P. Putnam's Sons, ’’arch 28,
1876. Quoted by Jones, oje. c i t ., pp. 181-182.
8V
Specimena of American Poetry (1829), the brothers Duyckinck’s
Cyclopaedia of American Literature in the M. L. Simons re­
vision of 1875, C. D. Cleveland’s Compendium of American
Literature
(1858), F. S. Drake's Dictionary of American Biog­
raphy (1872), and the works of Tuckerman, Nichol, Underwood,
and Hart (q.v.), but he took little from any of them.
As
Howard Uumford Jones has said of his performance, he
had gratefully employed the labors of his pre­
decessors where he could; the difference between
them and Tyler lies in the point of view, and
in the laborious, first-hand acquaintance with
over one hundred and fifty years of intellectual
history which formed the basis of his volumes.
Previous treatments of the colonial letters had
been either superficial or condescending.
A ner­
vous patriotism had led many to begin the story
of American literature with the Revolution on the
theory that almost everything before that time had
been British...!
From the University of Michigan in 1881, Tyler went
to Cornell University as "Professor of American History and
2
Literature"
leaving behind Isaac N. Demmon as professor of
English literature, who continued to offer strong work in
3
the American field.
At Cornell, the emphasis of Tyler’s
professorship was upon American history rather than upon
1.
2.
3.
Jones, op. c i t ., pp. 188-189.
Cornell University, Register 1881-1882, p. 12.
University of Michigan, Catalogue 1885-1886, p. 52.
88
1
American literature,
and in 1883 the professorship is de2
scribed solely as "American History."
Tyler's Later Career
Andrew Dickson White, president of Cornell, had long
had a keen interest in American history, dating back to
early contacts with Guizot's History of Civilization in
3
Europe, read at Yale under Professor Woolsey,
and with
Governor Seymour to whose ministry in Russia he had been attache.
In his Au t obi o graphy V/hite wrote:
At the opening of the university one of my
strongest hopes had been to establish a pro­
fessorship of American history.
It seemed
to me monstrous that there was not, in any
American university, a course of lectures on
the history of the United States; an d that an
American student, in order to secure such in­
struction in the history of his own country,
must go to the lectures of Laboulaye at the
College de France.4
G. Vi. Greene of Brown University and Theodore V«r. Dwight of
Columbia lectured at Cornell as nonresident professors on
the Revolutionary Period and Constitutional History re­
spectively; finally Tyler was appointed resident professor
1.
2.
3.
4.
Cornell University, Register 1881-1882, p. 75: "The ef­
fort is also made to use American Literature as a
means of illustrating the several periods of Ameri­
can history."
Cornell University, Register 1883-1884, p. 15.
Andrew Dickson White, Autobiography, Vol. I, o. 38.
Ibid., p. 383.
89
and his connection with American literature as a college
teacher— except for incidental, illustrative use of Ameri1
2
can literary materials in his lectures --ended.
His other
scholarly production,
(1897) similar in style and merit to
his History of American Literature, 1607-1765, was a History
of American Literature during the Revolution, 1765-1785.
The Significance of Tyler’s Work
It would be difficult to overrate the importance
of Loses Coit Tyler as a figure In the development of Ameri­
can collegiate education at one of its most critical stages.
As Fred Lewis Pattee has said of him, "Tyler was in every
way a pioneer: first to treat a period of our literature
definitely as such; first to individualize the subject on
university level; first to study American literature against
3
the background of American history."
Tyler was a progres­
sive on fronts other than the academic and literary; he was
4
an early advocate of education for women, and his keen and
practical interest in contemporary politics reveals how com­
pletely uncloistered his view of life was.
1.
2*
3.
4.
His sense of
Cornell University, Register 1881-1882, p. 75.
The Hew York Tribune, Larch 13, 1882, mentions four lec­
tures by Tyler In Baltimore on the history of Ameri­
can literature. Austen, 0£. cit., p. 130.
The OldProfessor of English: An Autopsy, Tradition
and
Jazz, p. 210.
Jones, ojo. c i t ., p. 77.
90
Americanism— of the importance and beauty of the American
spirit— was intense without being chauvinistic.
His writ­
ings of the period of the American Revolution are cool,
1
balanced, and fair.
2
But he was always and insistently an American.
It
was no accident that he served the University of Michigan:
in a conversation with President Grant about possible col­
leges for his son (January 1, 1871) he boldly recommended
Michigan as the "most genuine American universitv in this
3
country."
And it was likewise no accident that he served
Cornell University, whose first president, Andrew Dickson
White, had sounded a new note in university education:
You have seen, fellow citizens, that nearly
all these formative ideas may be included in
one, and that is the adaptation of this Uni­
versity to the American people, to American
needs, not to French or German life and needsj
not to the times of Erasmus, or Bacon, or the
Mathers, or Dr. Dwight, but to this land and
this time.4
Early in his career, Moses Coit Tyler had expressed the
modest hope that "As a literary and philosophical servant
1.
2.
3.
4.
Jones, o£. c i t ., p. 256.
Aiisten, ojc. c i t ., p. 107.
In March, 1880, as he planned
his second book, he thought of the struggles of the
period 1765-1815 as converging "on the effort for
complete detachment of America from Europe."
Ibid., p. 59.
Cornell University, Register, 1869-1870, p. 26.
91
1
of American society, I might be first rate,"
2
He w a s 0
Tyler's Point of View
Tyler's attitude toward literature was non-belletrlstic.
With him, for the most part, history— social and intellectual
history— came first; literature was an important part of it,
but still only a part,
Howard Jumford Jones says of this
phase of Tyler's work:
But literature was not for him mere belles
lettres, and in truth his two tests were
well-nigh synonymous. He was writing a study
in culture history; his interest was poli­
tical in the grand sense; and if he lacked
our recent economic prepossessions, his w o r k
remains nonetheless broadly based, firm, and
solid.3
1.
2.
3.
Austen, o p . c i t ., p. 8 6 .
"Tyler may be said to have inaugurated the heroic age of
scholarship in American literary history,.." Jones,
op. cit., p, 179 .
"His services to the cause of letters, especially as in­
dicated in his History of American Literature which
is already a standard work, place him in the front
rank of American authors." Rochester Democrat, 1883.
Quoted by Austen, ojo. cit., pp. 180-181.
See Scribner's Magazine, Vol. XVII, No. 5 (March, 1897),
p. 757.
Letter: Professor Theodore Hornberger (University of
Texas), July 31, 1939.
Letter: Lewis Perry (Principal, The Philips Exeter A c a ­
demy), June 21, 1939: "I had become interested in
the subject [American literature] from my own read­
ing and I am glad that you referred to Professor
Tyler, of Michigan, because it was his book that
first roused me to a great interest in the sub­
ject ."
Austen, 0£. c i t ., p. 190.
92
He. sought, indeed, to trace the unfolding of
the American mind, to present feelings and a t ­
titudes that were "characteristically Ameri­
can. . 1
It is significant that although the impulse to produce fic­
tional literature was with him frequently, it was always
2
kept in check in favor of literary history;
it is note­
worthy (and probably typical of what will always happen when
3
man or department attempts to serve two masters)
that one
phase of his work at Cornell overshadowed and consumed the
other, and that the word "Literature" dropped from the title
of his professorship after only one year.
In his first volume he said:
There is but one thing more interesting than
the intellectual history of a man, and that is
the intellectual history of a nation....It is
in written words that this people, from the
very beginning, have made the most confiden­
tial and explicit record of their minds.
It
is in these written words, therefore, that
we shall now search for that record.4
Jones aptly remarks:
1.
2.
3.
4»
Austen, o£. c i t . t p. 195.
Ibid., p. 71:
"My bones testify all the time in favor of
my choice of American history for the literary work
of m y life." (October 5, 1881).
See also Williams College, Catalogue 1890-1891, p. 37;
1907-1908, p. 71 (J. Leland Miller Chair).
A History of American Literature t 1607-1765, Vol. I,
p . 103.
93
'When this passage was published Arnold's
Essays in Criticism were thirteen years old,
Whistler was winning a farthing's damages
from John Ruskin for a pot of paint, flung
in the public's face, the Studies in the
Renaissance was five years "old C^to maintain
this ecstasy, is success in life"), Oscar
Wilde was at Oxford, and the Mew Republic had
just passed into another edition. But Tyler
had taken his stand with the old order...
"They wrote books not because they cared to
write books, but because by writing books
they could accomplish certain other things
which they did care for."l
Broadly, then, Tyler was of the line of literary critics
that began wi t h Samuel Lorenzo Knapp in this country and
has extended through the work of Vernon Louis Parrington—
the "literature as a means to history" school as opposed to
the "literature for intrinsic intellectual and emotional con2
tent" school.
Tyler, as Jones has suggested, was running
somewhat against the current of his time, (at least the
academic current) in the teaching and criticism of litera­
ture; passage of time was required before the wheel could
"come full circle" with the advent of Vernon Louis Parrington and the traditional become the new.
Tyler, with characteristic moderation, did not
1,
2.
Jones, 0£. c i t ., p. 190
Ernest Christopher Has sold (American Literary History
Before the Civil Ear, p . 136J""calls the t w o schools
inclusive and exclusive. Henceforth they will be
referred to in this work as the sociological and
the aesthetic.
94
choose to overstate the case for American literature as dis­
tinct from British literature.
Indeed, he seems to have re­
garded American literature as, for administrative purposes
1
at least, a part of British literature.
But be saw the
possibility of eventual distinction, and he shrewdly con­
jectured where and when the parting of the ways would begin.
Writing for the Christian Union in 1873 he said:
Students of history have observed that the
great epochs of literature have been in con­
nection with great national convulsions, or
immediately after them....America has had
her great national convulsion.
Is it, like­
wise, now to have its great literary epoch?
Our national life has been developed and in­
tensified by the agonies which have a't last
made us a nation.
Is it too much to believe
that literature, which is but the expression
of national life, will show a corresponding
development of originality, vigor, raciness,
and breadth?
One sign of an epoch of great
literary power is the presence of humor. We
know that much critical fault may be found
with the race of American humorists who have
risen among us of late years, but their ap­
pearance, with whatever blemishes, is really
a token of good.
It denotes an escape from
imitation and literary conventionalism; it de­
notes vivacity, youthful force, hearty feel­
ing, solid intellectual power of which these
sportive freaks are only the coruscations.
Humor is the drapery of the greatest intel­
lects; it must be so of the great national
epochs of intellectual act:?on.2
1.
2.
University of Michigan, President’s Report to the Board
of Regents for the Year Ending June 30, 1872, pp. 34™
35.
Quoted by Jones, o j d . cit-.,pp. 148-149
95
John Seely Hart (1810-1877)
Less important than Tyler from a general historical
view, but of considerable significance in the pioneer phase
of the development of American literature as a college study
is John Seely Hart of Princeton University (in Hart's time,
"The College of Pew Jersey").
Hart had a career which in its diversity was fairly
typical of the work of college teachers in the middle
decades of the century.
He graduated from Princeton in
1830, taught for one year in Natchez, Mississippi, and re­
turned to Princeton as a tutor (1832-1834).
His chief in­
terest at this time seems to have been Latin and Greek; from
1834 to 1836 he was adjunct professor of ancient languages
at Princeton.
He then turned to secondary and public edu­
cation; his career in this field was as follows:
1836-1841,
in charge of the Edgehill School; 1842-1859, principal of
the Philadelphia High School; 1863-1871, principal of the
New Jersey state normal school at Trenton (also lecturer on
1
the English language at Princeton 1864-1870).
From 1872 to 1874 he was professor of Rhetoric and
English Language at Princeton, and in this capacity taught
2
t*16 f3-rsk definite course in American literature in any
2.
Appleton Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. Ill, p. 103.
Jones, o£. c i t ., pp. 126-127: "At Princeton, it is true,
Professor John S. Hart was writing a book on Ameri-
96
major American university.
(See Pages 61-64 for earlier
mention of American literature.)
In 1873-1874 the course,
along with composition and English literature, was required of
all seniors for three full terms.
It was one of seven basic,
1
required courses.
H a r t ’s Manual of American Literature
The text Hart used was his own work, A Manual of
2
American Literature,
the first important treatment of
American literature specifically designed for use as a col3
lege textbook.
In his Preface he reveals the fact that
his interest in American literature was serious and of con4
siderable duration and shows also the close relation be­
tween the development of the subject and that of English
literature; the Preface suggests also a strong relationship
between work in American literature in secondary schools and in
colleges:
The systematic study of English literature, as
part of the course of ordinary English educa-
1.
2.
3.
4.
can literature, and in 1872-1873 he inaugurated a
course In that study, so that, in actually carrying
the idea into practice, he anticipated Tyler.—
Catalogue of the College of hew Jersey, 1872-1875
(Princeton, 1873), p. 21.TT~
Princeton University, Catalogrie 1873-1874, p. 20.
Philadelphia: Eldredge and Brother, 1873. Pp. xxiv / 641.
Title page: f,A text book for Schools and Colleges."
He had compiled Female Poets of America in 1853.
97
tion, has been introduced almost entirely w i t h ­
in the last thirty years.
The reader who will take the trouble to look
into the old catalogues of our Colleges and
Schools, will find no vestige of such study
prior to 184-4. The Class Book of Poetry and
the Class Book of Prose, issued in 1844 by the
author of the present volume, were a feeble be­
ginning in this line. Though intended pri­
marily for reading-books, they were to some ex­
tent studies in literature. The selections
from the various authors were in each case pre­
fixed by a brief critical and biographical
notice of the author, and were arranged in
chronological order, so as to furnish the
teacher and the scholar with something like an
outline of the general course of English
literature.
In the works of Professor Cleveland which fol­
lowed, a few years later (1854-1858), this fea­
ture became more marked. The books were still
in the main reading-books, but the space alloted to literary history and criticism was
considerably enlarged.
Other works have followed from time to time,
approaching more and more to the character of
the simple text-book on the subject, until
now, when selections are for the most part re­
manded to the reading-book and the text-book is
occupied almost exclusively with criticism and
literary history.
Anyone who will compare the Class Books of
Poetry and Prose of 1844, already referred to,
with the present volumes on English and Ameri­
can Literature, by the same author, will have
a means of measuring the growth of this study
in a single generation. A comparison of the
school catalogues of 1844 and 1872 will show a
like result. Hardly a school of any standing
is now to be found that does not include the
systematic study of English Literature in its
ordinary curriculum. The study has come to be
considered almost as necessary as that of
Grammar and Geography, and fully as necessary
as that of History.
98
The latest step in this onward movement is
that which recognizes the propriety of giving
a full and adequate treatment to the litera­
ture of our own country.
The volume now in
the hands of the reader furnishes ample proof,
if any were needed, that American Literature
is abundant in materials, and that it is grow­
ing with unexampled rapidity.
In preparing this work the author has been in­
debted, at every step, to those who have gone
before him. No one can write intelligently
on the subject, without a feeling of thankful­
ness for the labors of Dr. Allibone, Dr. Gris­
wold, and the brothers Duyckinck.
Beside
these general sources of information, the
author acknowledges with pleasure his obliga­
tions to "Southland Writers," by Mrs. Mary T.
Tardy ("Ida Richmond") of Mobile, Alabama,
and to "Living Writers of the South," by Pro­
fessor James Wood Davidson of Washington.
The work, however, is not a mere compilation.
It is not only original in Its conception,
form, and structure, but It has, in its m a ­
terials, also, to a much greater extent than
is usual in such works, the character of
originality. Fully one-third of the matter
here presented has been gathered by the au­
thor himself, and is an original contribu­
tion to the subject of which he has undertaken
to t reat .1
He goes on to warn teachers that his book is not in­
tended to be studied and memorized, but is to be used for
reference and information and as a general survey of Ameri2
can literature.
On the whole, Hart’s claims for his book are well
1.
2.
John Seely Hart, A Manua1 of American Literature,
pp. vii-viii
Ibid., p. xxiii.
99
justified.
In scope and taste it marks an advance over
anything that had been written in its field for college
or school use up to its time.
An important innovation was
the inclusion of the works of Southern poets; for the first
time, students were able to become aware that there was
literature in the United States outside New England and
New York.
Hart's definition of American literature is
clear-cut and definite: "American Literature, strictly
speaking, is that part of English Literature which has been
1
produced upon American soil."
The connection between Eng­
lish and American literature is thus affirmed, but the opera
tion of mutation and local variation is also recognized.
His comments on authors and their works show a cer­
tain amount of insight and acumen plus the inevitable preju­
dices of the time.
Remarks on Melville and Whitman are
fair samples:
Herman Melville, 1819— , is the author of
several works of fiction, describing wild
adventures among the islands of the Pacific.
Mr, Melville is a native of New York. While
very young he displayed a great love for a d ­
venture and went to sea before the mast.
On
one of his voyages in the Pacific he deserted
the ship, and was taken prisoner and kept for
several months in the Typee valley on one of
the Marquesas. He was rescued by a whaling
1.
Hart,
0£.
c i t ., p. 25
100
vessel, and. finally returned home in a United
States man-of-war.
Melville is the author of several exciting
works based upon his adventures.
The follow­
ing are the principal: Typee, or Four Months
in the Marquesas; Omoo; Mardi, and a Voyage
Thither; Redburn, or the Confessions of a
Gentleman's Son in the Merchant Service; White
Jacket, or the World in a Man-of-War; The
Piazza Tales, a series of stories published in
Putnam's Magazine; The Confidence Man. His
two best works are, perhaps, Typee and Redburn.
In the former, life among the savages is de­
scribed in an almost idyllic style, too
idyllic, it has been observed, to be wholly
accurate. At least one may be permitted to
doubt whether the savages of Typee were quite
as interesting as Melville has presented them.
The work itself and its successors attracted
great attention at the time of their appear­
ance, a n d although interest in them has since
abated, they are still excellent in point of
style. Melville is a writer of forcible and
graceful English, although in some of his works
he lapses into mysticism .1
Moby Dick had been published in 1851.
Hart, like
2
so many critics until the 1920's, ignored it completely.
At the time Hart was writing, Melville was an inspector of
customs, living obscixrely in New York, unappreciated and
1.
2.
Hart, 0£. eft., p. 486.
Melville's fame had never grown dim in England.
"But
he was virtually ignored in the literary histories
of his own country until about 1920, when his great­
ness came to be recognized for the first time,
largely as an indirect result of'the sudden vogue
of books dealing with the South Seas."
Dictionary
of American Biography, Vol. XII, p. 524.
R. M. Weaver's Herman Melville, Mariner and Mystic (1921)
was influential in this revival of interest.
101
1
almost forgotten.
To have included him at all, the writer
of this textbook showed a more than average understanding,
or at least a more than average thoroughness, in dealing
with the American literary scene.
On the subject of Walt Whitman, Hart's comments
are similarly timid but show some independence of thought
and feeling:
His diction is extremely terse and idiomatic.
The words come quick and apt; the general
thought sweeps along with a vigorous, unim­
peded flow. The atmosphere is purs and
bracing. But as might be anticipated, there
is not much harmony, and scarcely even an
attempt at symetry.
He makes no pretense
to giving us anything well rounded off. His
utterances are those of a keen-eyed, whole­
hearted, philosophic spirit,— who sees each
object in its real shape and true light, for
a moment, but can linger over none .2
In general, Hart's book is a sound, though rather
superficial survey textbook of American literature, much
more extensive and inclusive than Tuckennan's earlier Sketch
but not very different in technique.
however, it deserves credit.
In several respects,
It is fairly broad, both in
time and in geographical selection.
Again it shows no u n ­
willingness to deal with contemporary figures.
1.
2.
There is
American Literature (Texts selected and edited by Robert
Shafer)', Vol. II, p. 2.
Hart, Q£. c i t ., pp. 376-377.
102
little If any moralizing; Poe, for example, is accepted
in sua propria, without fluttering or apology and, inci­
dentally, he is given something approaching the amount of
1
attention that modern estimates accord him.
No purpose can he served hy a comparison of H a r t ’s
work and that of Hoses Colt Tyler.
Hart, experienced in
public school education— both secondary and normal school—
was interested in producing a compact, brief survey of the
whole American literature field.
Tyler, in contrast, was
concerned with producing a more elaborate, thorough-going
treatise on a relatively small segment of the same field
for the
use of scholars and mature thinkers.
very good in its way.
Each book was
Tyler knew H a r t ’s book; he used it
in connection with the writing of his History of American
2
Literature, 1607-1765 and reviewed it favorably for the
Christian Union (June 25, 1873), finding in it evidence
"that the American people are beginning to realize that
their own native authors have at least occasional claims to
3
notice
Hart’s Influence: His Point of View
John Seely Hart does not seem to have had sufficient
1. Hart, o£. c i t ., pp. 141-144.
2. Jones, o£. cit., p. 189.
3 * Ibid., pp. 156-157.
103
time at Princeton to form into a tradition, his forward-looking
innovation.
His connection with the college came to an end
after only two years, in 1874, and his American literature
1
work there seems to have disappeared in 1879-1880.
Since
then, the hold of American literature at Princeton has never
heen very strong.
In 1938-1939 the university offered less
work in the field than any other institution that taught the
subject at all— 3 semester hours.
(See Pages 106, 107, 367)
Neither does his text seem to have been adopted very widely;
few institutions list it as standard during this period.
however, his influence may have importantly touched one
institution: his son, James liorgan Hart, was responsible
(1904) for the introduction of a modern course in American
2
Literature at Cornell University.
H a r t ’s attitude toward American Literature was
prima­
rily aesthetic, in spite of the assertion in his preface that
"The study of Literature is in fact a part of the study of
3
History."
He rarely made any attempt to interpret an author
or his works against the background of his time and place in
the n a t i o n ’s broader life.
1.
2.
3.
Princeton University, Catalogue 1879-1880, p. 25.
Letter: Professor Frederick C. Prescott (Cornell Uni­
versity), August 13, 1939: "You asked what turned
me toward the subject [American literature].
In
1904 Professor J. M. Hart, then head of the depart­
ment, thought a course should be given and asked me
to give it."
Hart, o£. cit., p. viii.
104
American Literature in Colleges and Universities; 1880-1890
A survey of course offerings in American literature
for 1880-1890 reveals two definite changes:
(1) the study
of American literature was decidedly on the increase in
colleges, and (2) American literature was being assigned a
separate and distinct place in the curriculum apart from Eng­
lish literature.
In the decade 1870-1880, only 26 institutions of the
basic list out of 109 in existence definitely announced courses
involving the use of American literary materials.
ade 1880-1890, the number increased to 45.
In the dec­
(See Page 125)
The increase in separate courses in the subject is even more
striking: For 1870-1880 only 6 ; for 1880-1890, a total of
2
23.
The increase is still more remarkable when it is noted
that of the 26 institutions offering work in the field in
1870-1880 or before, only 15 were still carrying it on in
1880-1881.
The total increase is thus to be accounted to "new
growth," new courses.
Thus by the year 1890, American litera-
may be said to have established itself in the American col-
1.
2.
Princeton, Baylor, Michigan, Union, Mississippi, Franklin &
Marshall.
Antioch, Baylor, Brown, Bucknell, Colorado, Dartmouth,
Franklin & Marshall, Hamilton, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas,
Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Mount Holyoke, Ne­
braska, Notre Dame, Ohio University, Smith, University
of the South, Southern California, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin.
105
1
lege and university curriculum.
Decreases: Causes
The disappearance of American literature courses
(or
more or less definite attention to American literature) b e ­
tween 1870 and 1890 offers an opportunity to conjecture the
nature and extent of the forces operating against it.
A
comparison of catalogues reveals that the following insti­
tutions offering work in American literature during the
1870's or earlier, dropped or diminished
before 1390.
work in the field
(See Page 106)
At Howard University
the decline in
American literature may have
been caused by
thestudy of
theresignation
from the English department of the Rev. Eliphalet Whittlesey,
by whom the course in British and American Poets and Orators
2
had been given. Shaw's text was adopted, however, so
touch with American literature was probably not altogether
lost.
A similar change in faculty may have affected the
1.
2.
Pattee (o£. c i t . , p. 217), on the basis of 14 New England
institutions, 11 Lliddle State, and 12 Western, finds
average years of introduction respectively 1893,
1903, and 1893.
The difference is due to the fact
that the basic list of the present study is larger
than that of Pattee's (121 against 37) and includes
the smaller institutions, which, on the whole, were
doing more work in American literature in these
early years than were the larger institutions.
Howard University, Catalogue 1874-1875, p. 22.
106
AREAS OF DIMINISHMENT IN AMERICAN LITERATURE
Haverford
1871-1872
English and American
•«
1878-1879
O
No mention
C
Heidelberg
1858-1859
American Authors
1869-1870
Shaw only
No mention
Shaw only
Shaw only
Howard U.
1868-1869
British and American
Orators and Poets
rt
O
1873-1874
1874-1876
Richmond
1869-1870
English and American
1870-187l6
American (Hart's text)
but
187 5
1887
Mississippi 1872-1873
Iowa
1872-1873 English and American
1874-1875 American
Washington U,,1872-1873
Shaw only
American Lit.
1878-18798 No mention
Royse's A. L. text
1873-18749
Shaw only
Princeton
1873-1874
American (Hart's text)
but
1879-1880*° No mention
1889-1890-1"1 American Lit
Swarthmore
1872-1873
Cleveland's A. L. text
1880-1881
Union
1873-1874
American (Hart's text)
1880-1881
Rochester
1878-1879
English and American
1883-138414 No mention
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
12
13
No mention
No mention
Haverford College, Catalogue 1878-1879, p. 15.
Heidelberg College, Catalogue 1869-1870, p. XX. Also, 18701880.
Howard University, Catalogue 1873-.1874, p. 30.
Howard University, Catalogue 1874-1876, p. 22.
University of Richmond, Catalogue 1870-1871, p. 17.
University of Mississippi, Catalogue 1875, p. 34.
University of Mississippi, Catalogue 1887, p. 134.
Iowa University, Catalogue 1878-1879, p. 51.
Washington University, Catalogue 1873-1874, p. 55.
Princeton University, Catalogue 1879-1880, p. 25.
Frinoeton University, Catalogue 1889-1890, p. 37.
Swarthmore College, Catalogue 1880-1881, p. 20.
Union College, Catalogue 1880-1881, p. 17.
University of Rochester, Catalogue 1883-1884, p. 21.
107
curriculum at Iowa; G. L. Pinkham, who had taught the course
1
involving American materials
was replaced by Phebe Sudlow
and in the same year Comparative Philology became the domi2
nant study to the exclusion of American literature.
In
1888-1889, with the coming of Melville B. Anderson, Ameri3
can literature reappeared,
this time as a separate and defi­
nite course.
As already mentioned, at Princeton the retire­
ment from the faculty of John Seely Hart probably weakened
the prestige of the subject; his book is not mentioned as a
text at Princeton after 1875 and the American literature
4
offering disappears from the catalogue in 1878-1879.
At Union, the philological approach became prevalent
5
under the auspices of a new faculty member, Henry Coppee,
6
Professor of History, English Literature, and Philology.
7
His textbook of English literature had been used along with
Hart's Manual of American
Literature, which now disappeared
5 ---------------from the announcement.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
.
8
At Rochester, American literature
Iowa University, Catalogue 1874-1875, p. 20: American
poetry, prose, and oratory.
Cf. Catalogue 1876-1877, p. 18 and Catalogue 1878-1879,
p . 19.
Iowa University, Catalogue 1888-1889, pp. 20, 22.
Princeton University, Catalogue 1878-1879, p. 25.
Union College, Catalogue 1879, p. 8 .
Union College, Catalogue 1880-1881, p. 17: "...acquaintance
with the historical development of the language..."
required.
Union College, Catalogue 1873-1874, p. 49.
Union College, Catalogue 1880-1881, p. 17.
108
was replaced as an elective by a course in Plato and
1
Aristotle.
The basic cause of the decline of the teaching of
American literature seems to have been usually the change
in personnel of faculties; when the "only begetter" of work
in the field left these institutions, his course in American
literature vanished, implying that no definite tradition
in favor of the subject had been established in these insti­
tutions..
Philology was apparently the usual substitution,
a result, perhaps, of the interests of instructors fresh
from linguistically aligned graduate schools.
What precisely occurred in the other institutions
whose catalogues indicate a decline in American instruction
is less certain.
In some of these places there may have been
no real lessening of emphasis.
At Mississippi, for instsnce,
Hart's text was replaced by the less explicitly American
2
Shaw's,
but in 1887 American literature was re-introduced
as a full-fledged, separate course based on Stedman's Poets
3
of America and Stoddard's American Poems.
At Heidelberg,
Richmond, and Washington University, the use of Shaw's text
suggests that although definite mention of American litera­
ture had vanished from the catalogues, the subject did not
1.
2.
3.
University of Rochester, Catalogue 1885-1884, p. 21.
University of Mississippi, Catalogue 1875, p. 34.
University of Mississippi, Catalogue 1887, p. 134.
109
entirely lost its place, perhaps being given attention under
the general course title "English Literature."
At Haverford
and Swarthmore mention of American literature was dropped,
but a similar situation may have existed.
(See Page 106)
Increases
More extensive than any possible diminishment in
the study of American literature in colleges during the dec­
ade 1880-1890 was the increase through new courses. In the
following institutions in which the subject had received
little or no attention before in announcements it was now
mentioned as a separete course or course-unit: Bucknell,
Colorado, Dartmouth, Mississippi, Mount Holyoke, Nebraska,
Notre Dsme, Ohio University, Smith, University of the South,
Southern California, Vanderbilt, V/isconsin.
(See Page
Other institutions showing a more limited amount of attention
to American literature were the following: Georgia (American
1
literature replaced by Philology, 1889-1890),
Northwestern,
Ohio State (earlier catalogues not available), Pittsburgh,
Syracuse, Tulane, Washington & Jefferson, Wellesley, Yale,
Emory, Nevada, North Carolina, Purdue, St. Louis, Vassar,
University of 'Washington.
During this period a number of more influential in­
stitutions introduced or gave fresh emphasis to the study of
1,
University of Georgia, Catalogue 1889-1890, p. 17.
110
American literature, and in them individual professors identi­
fied themselves with work in this field— an important step
forward in the development of the subject in college,
Dartmouth College had shown an interest in American
1
materials from an early date.
In 1822
the Federalist had
been a definite part of the curriculum and it appeared as
late as 1841-1842, now under the department of "Intellectual
2
and Moral Philosophy."
In 1848-1849 sophomores in the
3
spring term were studying Russell's American Elocutionist,
a practice that went on as late as 1867.
Along with many
other colleges, Dartmouth had used Spalding's English Litera4
5
ture and replaced it with an American edition of Shaw.
In 1882, Charles Francis Richardson, a graduate of
Dartmouth, became Winkley Professor of Anglo-Saxon and English
Language and Literature at Dartmouth, and an elective course
6
in American literature was introduced (38 hours)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6
.
for seniors.
DartmouthCollege, Catalogue 1822, p. 3.
DartmoiithCollege, Catalogue 1841-1842,
p. 23,
DartmouthCollege, Catalogue 1848-1849,
p. x x i .
DartmouthCollege, Catalogue 1865-1866,
p. 33.
Edwin D. Sanborn, Professor of Belles Lettres at Dartmouth
from 1880-1882 appears to have been Interested in the
teaching of literature from a modern point of view.
His daughter, Kate Sanborn, introduced the study of
American literature at Smith College (See Pages 115-116)
Letter: Fred Lewis Pattee, 1939: "Were I making your
study I would look for pioneer scholars in the various
colleges,— the introducers of literary courses.
Having found these men— like Professor Sanborn of
Dartmouth— study them and find where they got their
inspiration."
Dartmouth College, Catalogue 1881-1882, p. 19.
Ill
Richardson identified himself immediately with the study of
American literature
(he had published a Primer of American
Literature in 1878) and kept the subject influential
and
1
active there until his retirement in 1911,
In 1887 and
2
1889 he published his two-volume History of American Litera­
ture, 1607-1885, the "first historical survey of the whole
3
field,"
His first publication in 1878 (the same year that
T yl er ’s History of American Literature, 1607-1765 appeared)
though rather slight, has been characterized as "the first
4
systematic history of American literature,"
Prom 1882 henceforth, Dartmouth, through the w o r k of
Richardson, has been strong in the tradition of American
literary study.
When in 1895 Alfred M. Hitchcock, a graduate
of Williams then teaching literature in the University School
in Cleveland, became interested in the study of American
5
literature it was to Richardson and Dartmouth that he turned,
(See Pages 159-160)
6
At Wisconsin in the same year (1882-1883),
John Charles
Freeman introduced as a first term, junior-senior elective the
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Dartmouth College, Catalogue 1911-1912, p. 32: Richardson
professor emeritus,
Vol. I, The Development of American Thought, (xx / 536
pages)V Vol, II, American Poetry and Fiction (456 pages)
New York and London": G, P, Putnam’s Sons, 1887, 1889.
Pattee, ojd . c i t ., p. 208,
Ibid., p. 207,
Letter: Alfred M. Hitchcock, July 19, 1939.
Pattee, ojd , c i t ., p. 211: "...later in the year..."
University of Wisconsin, Catalogue 1882-1883, p. 57.
112
"Study of English Masterpieces— American Prose Writers" in
which there was offered "...direct study of Hawthorne,
Irving, Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes, Lowell, Thoreau, and
Emerson."
This was one of six courses offered in literature.
If indeed, Longfellow was studied as a "prose writer," stu­
dents must have read his Kavanagh, which would bring them
face-to-face with some of the critical problems of the emerg1
ing American literature.
Pattee mentions this course at
Wisconsin as one of the basic, Important introductions.
It
was the beginning of a line of distinguished Y/ork In the
study and teaching of American literature at Wisconsin that
has included the contributions of William B. Cairns, Norman
Foerster, Harry Hayden Clark, and, in American Linguistics,
M. L. Hanley.
Like Dartmouth., Brown University had, from an early
date, included work with American materials; the Federalist
2
was being studied as early as 1824,
the Constitution was a
3
definite part of the curriculum in 1830-1831,
and in 18484
1849 "Lectures on American History" figured prominently.
In English literature Spalding's and Shaw's Y/orks appeared
5
in 1852-18 53, and for some time afterward.
In 1885 condi-
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
See Kavanagh, Chapter XX, pp. 111-124.
Brown University, Catalogue 1824, p. 12.
Brown University, Catalogue 1830-1831, p. 14.
Brovrn University, Catalogue 1848-1849, p. 22.
Brown University, Catalogue 1852-1853, p. 31; Catalogue
1854-1855, p. 30.
dates for the new Ph. B. degree were reading Longfellow's
1
2
Golden Legend, a practice which was continued until 1888.
The course in English Liters.ture has been
gradually modified to meet modern demands.
The general study of the Literature now in­
dicates its progressive development from
the fifth to the nineteenth century, includ­
ing early American literature, with the
special study of representative authors.®
In the next year the emphasis upon American material was even
stronger in the announcement:
The English department now includes the
studies of Rhetoric and Elocution, AngloSaxon, English and American Literature...
the nineteenth century with the Historical
Outlines of American Literature is taught
the second half of the Senior year as an
elective A
Bancroft died in 1891 and was replaced by John
6
Matthews Manly.
But since Bancroft's time, work in Ameri­
can literature at Brown has been strong; the line of suc­
cession has included Lorenzo Sears (the first American col-
1
.
2
.
3.
4.
5.
6
.
Brown University,
1885, p. 24.
Brown University,
1888, p. 31.
B r own university,
1889, p. 32.
Brown University,
1890, p. 29.
Brown University,
1891, p. 59.
Ibid., p. 60.
Annual Report of the President, June 18
Annual Report of the President, June
21
A.nnual Report of the President, June
20
Annual Report of the President, June
21
Annual Report of the President, June 18
114
lege instructor to hold the title "Professor of American
Literature"),1 Walter Bronson, William B. Cairns, S. Poster
Damon, H. B. Grose, Jr., and Randall Stewart.
At Vanderbilt University the first definite course
in American literature appears in 1888-1889, "Lectures on
American Literature; Study of Emerson and Lowell: Parallel
2
Reading: American Poets (Stedman), Snerson and Lowell."
This course was the only elective in literature and was of­
fered in the junior year.
Before this date Shaw’s Manual
3
with an American supplement had been consistently used, and
the works of Hawthorne and Emerson had been mentioned as re4
quired reading*
The course offered in 1888-1889 marks the
beginning at Vanderbilt of relatively strong attention to
American literature; working there in this field since that
date have been Edwin Mims, John Crowe Ransom, John Wade (now,
1941, at the University of Georgia), Randall Stewart (now,
1941, at Brown), and Clyde Beatty.
1.
2.
3.
4.
See Brown University, Annual Report of the President,
June 17, 1897, p. 37; "Report of the Associate Pro­
fessor of American Literature" (signed: "Lorenzo
Sears.")
Vanderbilt University, Catalogue 1887-1888 (1888-1889),
p. 40.
Vanderbilt University, Register 1876-1877 (1877-1878),
p. 34. See also Registers following to 1882.
Vanderbilt University, Catalogue 1883-1884 (1884-1885),
p. 36; Catalogue 1884-1885 (1885-1886), p. 35.
115
1
Indiana University after 1882-1683
tention to American literature.
gave definite at­
In 1884-1885 sophomores
spent one term on the subject "with illustrative readings from
the leading authors." and the English literature for seniors
2
included American authors.
In 1885-1886, winter term, an
interesting course title appears (for this year only)— "The
3
Philosophy of American Literature."
At Iowa the study of American literature had endured
various vicissitudes, having been introduced early, in 18724
5
1873,
suffered diminishment in 1878-1879 and extinction
in the time of Phebe Sudlow.
In 1888-1889 Melville B. Ander­
son became professor of English and an important course
appeared: "Seminary of American Literature, based on Sted6
m a n ’s Poets of America."
This was one of three literature
courses and was offered for the spring term.
In the women's colleges American literature was intro­
duced during this period though in no great force.
Kate San­
born, the daughter of Richardson's predecessor at Dartmouth,
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
.
6
Indiana University, Catalogue 1882-1883, p. 42.
Indiana University, Catalogue 1884-1885, pp. 41-42.
Indiana University, Catalogue 1885-1886, p. 47.
Iowa University, Catalogue 1872-1873, p. 38: "The ad­
vanced classes will also be required to study some
of the best classical models, both English and Ameri­
can, with a view to the careful criticism and just
appreciation of their thought and style."
Iowa University, Catalogue 1878-1879, p. 51.
Iowa University, Catalogue 1888-1889, pp. 20, 22.
116
introduced "Lectures on American Literature" at Smith col1
lege in 1880.
At Mount Holyoke, work in American litera2
ture in the preparatory department appears in 1887-1888;
the college department was not inaugurated until September
1888, so the introduction of American literature on the
3
college level is accountable as of 1888-1889.
At Wellesley
4
the subject was introduced in 1886.
The University of Dot re Dame, among the Catholic
institutions, took cognizance of the changing demands and
the changing academic scene in an announcement in its cata­
logue for 1887-1888:
A change is coming over American Colleges
with respect to the teaching of English.
Till a very recent period the higher branches
of Rhetoric and Literary Criticism did not
receive all the attention they deserved.
The last decade has witnessed a marked im­
provement in this point, and the importance
of the higher study of English is now recog­
nized in all the great educational institu­
tions of this country and of Europe.
It
has been remarked by a great authority that,
"When once the English language and English
and American Literature become recognized as
a regular educational course, the advantages
will be so great as to constitute nothingshort of a national benefit."
1.
2.
3.
4.
Smith College, Catalogue 1880, p. 36.
Pattee, ojd. cit ., p. 211.
Mount Holyoke Seminary, Catalogue 1887-1888, p. 24.
Ibid., p. 30.
Cf. Pattee, on. c i t ., p. 211 (Date 1887 assigned for in­
troduction) .
Pattee, op. cit ., p. 211.
117
The faculty of the University of hotre Dame,
recognising the fact that the exclusive
study of the ancient languages and of pure
science is not in itself sufficient for a
liberal education, have determined to insti­
tute a course which shall provide for more
than ordinarily thorough acquaintance with
the English language and with English and
American literature.
• a • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • # • * • •
A high standard will be kept throughout the
course in all English branches, and the d e ­
gree will be conferred on no one who, b e ­
sides giving evidence of proficiency in the
Classics and Science, has not also given
proof of ability to apply the principles of
composition and shown an acquaintance with
the writings of the best authors in English
and American literature.1
In 1888-1889 "Lectures on American Literature" appears for
juniors for a full year in the Classical course;
in the
"Special English Course" there appears "Biographical Study
of American Literature— Tyler's Manual, Supplemented by
2
Lectures on Special Periods."
These institutions seem to have been the only influ­
ential or widely known colleges which offered important w or k
in American literature between 1880 and 1890.
On the west
coast the University of Southern California engaged in limited
3
4
work in the field in 1889-1890, but dropped it in 1893
1.
2.
3.
4.
University
University
University
p. 1 0 .
University
p. 24.
of Notre Dame, Catalogue 1887-1888, p. 42.
of Notre Dame, Catalogue 1888-1889, p. 30-31.
of Southern California, Catalogue 1889-1890,
of Southern California, Catalogue 1893-1894,
118
when Anna H. Billings (B. L., Smith College) became the
English "department"; a definite course does not appear
again until 1899-1900.
1
Other institutions were doing cred­
itable work in teaching American literature during this period.
(See Page 125), but except for the work in those noted above,
the teaching could hardly have reached any great number of
2
students•
The incidence of the study of American literature at
this time appears to have been, on the whole, more a matter
3
of individuals than of institutions.
No article advocating
instruction in American literature on college levels has
4
been found.
Certainly an inspection of the institutions
concerned shows no important common influence except the
general, broad sense of changing conditions observed at Notre
Dame and usually favorable to the introduction of new courses.
Geographically, the colleges doing work in the field are about
evenly distributed in proportion to regional development in
1.
2.
3.
4.
University of Southern California, Catalogue 1899-1900,
p . 31 •
Pattee (o£. cit., p. 218) mentions the University of the
South as a pioneer in the field of the teaching of
American literature with a course given by Greenough
White (author of The Philosophy of American Literature)
in the late ’eighties.
Opinion also of Pattee (o£. cit., pp. 211, 219).
H. E. Scudder in one article urged the use of more Ameri­
can materials in secondary schools. See American
Classics in the Schools, Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 60
(July, 1887).
119
higher education.
On the score of tradition— with the
possible exception of the situation at Brown and Dartraouth-no conclusion is safe, for many institutions were just intro­
ducing work in American materials.
Drivate and state support­
ed institutions are about equally represented (Private: 14
State: 10).
Perhaps one generalization is permissible and
significant— not one of the "great" American universities of
1
the day (Harvard, Yale,
Johns Iiopkins, Virginia, William &
f'ary, Columbia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania,
Princeton) was
doing important work in American literature during this peri­
od .
The emergence of American literature as a separate
course is worthy of remark, for so long as the subject was
treated purely as a phase of English literature, essentially
American qualities were likely to be overlooked, and on a
purely aesthetic basis American works were likely to be over­
shadowed.
During this period, American literature was becom­
ing a separate course in colleges and universities.
(See
Page 125)
Subjects of Courses
elev9n basic types generally offered today (1941)—
1.
Mixed course— Nineteenth Century English and American
Literature— introduced 1889-1890.
See Yale Univer­
sity, Catalogue 1889-1890, pp. 53-54.
120
Survey, Period, Prose, Poetry, Novel, Short Story, Drama,
Individual Author, G-roups of Authors, Regional, Sociological — seven were offered "between 1880 and 1890.
Only Novel,
Short Story, Drama, and Sociological were not mentioned
somewhere during the decade.
The course at -the University
of Michigan is interesting as pointing forward to a distinct
break between English and American literature:
American Literature.
Seminary.
Irving, Poe,
Hawthorne, Bryant, Longfellow, Emerson,
Bayard Taylor, Whittier, Holmes, Lowell. Repre­
sentative works of the authors above named are
studied and compared with masterpieces of Brit­
ish authors, and an attempt is made to discover
the distinctly "American" element.1
At Indiana University the title of a course suggests the
modern approach: "Course 5.
Philosophy of American Litera2
ture."
At the University of Minnesota, the standard survey
course seems to have placed more than usual emphasis upon
the background material related to American literature.
Courses dealing with a particular period of American litera3
4
ture appear in the announcements of Brown, Yale, and
1.
2.
3.
4.
University of Michigan, Catalogue 1885-1886, p. 52.
Indiana University, Catalogue 1885-1886, p. 47.
Oreenough White's Philosophy of American Literature
appeared in 1891 (See Page 179)
Brown University, Annual Report of the President, June
17, 1886, p. 31.
Yale University, Catalogiie 1889-1890, pp. 53-54.
121
1
Tulane.
Poetry and the poets of America are mentioned
2
3
4
at Mississippi, Purdue, Iowa, and the University of the
5
South.
Authors $ either Individually or in groups, appear
fi
7
at Antioch, Colorado ("English Authors of America” ),
8
9
10
Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio University.
Not much attention was given to contemporary litera­
ture in this period.
The chief reason for this was probably
the feeling that contemporary writing was too near to be
judged or discussed on a literary plane, and too obvious to
require interpretation.
And since formation and disciplin­
ing of taste and interpretation of the otherwise more or
less unintelligible were thought of as the college profes­
sor's functions, contemporary literature was still not thought
to pertain to the purposes of university training.
The Novel, Short Story, and Drama did not appear as
such in announcements; novels and short stories (at least of
Hawthorne and Poe) were frequently read, either in "Prose
Literature”11 courses or as "outside,” "parallel" reading;
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
Tulane University, Catalogue 1885-1886, p. 39.
University of Mississippi, Catalogue 1887, p. 134.
Purdue University, Catalogue 1886-1887, p. 42.
Iowa University, Catalogue 1888-1889, p. 22.
University of the South, Catalogue 1886-1887, p. 42.
Antioch College, Catalogue 1885-1886, p. 20.
University of Colorado, Catalogue 1885-1886, p. 24.
Indiana University, Catalogue 1884-1885, pp. 41-42.
University of Michigan, Catalogue 1885-1886, p. 52.
Ohio University, Catalogue 1887-1888, p. 28.
See University of Michigan, Catalogue 1882-1883, p. 87.
122
the American drama, however, was apparently neglected
entirely.
The sociological approach to literature was not
yet prevalent.
Emphasis was on the essay and poetry, the
types of literature most susceptible, perhaps, to interpre­
tative and aesthetic approach.
The emerging dominant type
of course was the survey, based on a single text, but re­
quiring direct reading and study of the more prominent Ameri­
can authors.
Change in Techinque
The most important qualitative change during the
period is from the study of American literature by a manual
or mere fact-containing outline such as Shaw or Underwood,
to the direct and fairly extensive reading of authors 1 works.
Even in the single volume textbooks such as .Hart's, the
author's works were presented in samples, the text repre­
senting a combination of the factual "history" of litera­
ture and the more elementary reading-book.
The use of anthol­
ogies became common during the period; such selective anthol­
ogies as Stoddard's and Stedman's were made the basis of
courses.
The blending of selections, biography, criticism,
and historical background in Tyler 's, H a r t 's , and Richardson's
works prepared the way for direct textual study of substantial
portions of American literature.
In the survey courses the
anthology and history are still (1941) widely retained for
123
both English and American literature.
In the more advanced
courses the abandonment of such general works had to wait upon
the increase of library facilities and of publication of
inexpensive and sound editions of American authors.
For the
same reasons, no doubt, graduate work in American literature
did
not appear.
Late in the period a new interest in the literature of
1
the South and West is notable.
Change in Type of Instructor
During the period 1880-1890 a new type of professor
of English was beginning to become influential, and the
type was undergoing subdivision.
The multi-titled
(History,
Rhetoric, Belles Lettres, Intellectual and Moral Philosophy)
Doctor of Divinity was giving way to the secular, widelyread, and frequently scholarly instructor.
This new professor
was often a product of German, philoligical training, which
was not altogether calculated to inspire love of literature
as literature but which, on the other hand, did not, it seems,
directly prevent the professors from being interested in the
1.
See, for example, A Library of American Literature
(E. C. Stedman and E. M. Hutchinson, editors) , 1888,
p. xi: "In the latest period, the West, the South,
and the Pacific Coast, offer abundant claims for
recognition. Henceforth the country will look to
them for their equal share of what is best and most
indigenous in our national literature."
124
general field.
The presence of men on faculties whose
primary distinction was in linguistic rather than theolog
leal scholarship can probably be accounted an aid to the
study of literature in college, whether English or Ameri­
can .
125
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126
Summary
Thus the period 1870-1890 (and particularly the
decade 1870-1880) marks the beginning of the teaching of
American literature on the college level in the United States
on something like an appreciable scale.
The causes of the
emergence may be thought of as the new self-consciousness
of the United States arising out of the Civil War and
heightened by the ’’Centennial enthusiasm” ; the new wealth
which aided the expansion of institutions, both through the
increase in the popularity of college attendance and the in­
crease in endowments; the new vigor of American literature
and American literary consciousness.
The death of many of
the ’’classic” figures in American literature in the ’seven­
ties and ’eighties at once served to dramatize their con­
tribution and remove the academic embarrassment which their
presence might have caused professors dealing with their
works.
These various forces operated largely during this
period through the personalities of such men as hoses Coit
Tyler, John Seely Hart, Andrew Dickson White, Charles
Francis Richardson, and Lorenzo Sears rather than through
institutional interest.
The following institutions offered courses in Ameri­
can literature during the decade 1870-1880 (or slightly
earlier) and may be regarded, chronologically, as leaders in
127
the field: Heidelberg, Howard University, Richmond, Cornell,
Illinois, Baylor, Haverford, Hobart, Mississippi, Iowa,
Washington University, Princeton, Swarthmore, Union, Bates,
Trinity (Connecticut), Tufts, Michigan, Kansas, Worth
Carolina, Missouri, Antioch, Rochester, Franklin & Marshall,
St. Lawrence, Minnesota.
In many of these, the work in
American literature was given as a part of the general
English literature course or was touched on by means of as­
signed readings.
During the period 1880-1890, the following insti­
tutions were offering distinct and separate courses in
American literature: Antioch, Baylor, Brown, Bucknell,
Colorado, Dartmouth, Franklin & Marshall, Hamilton, Indiana,
Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Mount Holyoke,
Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio University, Smith, University of
the South, Southern California, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin, Welles­
ley.
American literature was offered in conjunction with
other w o r k in the following:
Georgia, Heidelberg, Illinois,
Northwestern, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Princeton, St. Lawrence,
Syracuse, Tulane, Washington & Jefferson, Yale, Bates, Cor­
nell, Emory, Nevada, North Carolina, Purdue, St. Louis,
Vassar,
University of Washington.
The general philosophy of instruction in American
literature was the aesthetic, with evidence in a few insti­
tutions of emerging historical and sociological interprets-
128
tion.
The ■usual course was the survey, parallel to the
"Beowulf to Thomas Hardy" type of survey of English litera­
ture, based on authors or masterpieces.
Here and there diminution of the offering or em­
phasis was observable, probably traceable to the rising
interest in linguistics and philology rendered authoritative
by the influence of the Herman universities and Johns Hopkins
Ho particularly regional or institutional influence
was remarkable during this period; the larger universities
were not engaged in work in the American field.
No graduate
work was offered.
The textbooks in American literature were still limit
ed.
In at least 23 institutions an American edition of Shaw*
Manual of Bnglish Literature with an American literature
supplement was still in use.
The important textbooks or ref­
erence works used in college follow: Tyler's History of Arneri
can Literature, 1607-1765, the brothers Duyckinck's Cyclopae­
dia of American Literature, Richardson's Primer of American
Literature and History of American Literature, Hart's Manual
of American Literature, Stedman's Poets of America, Stoddard'
Poets and Poetry of America.
The professors of English giving the courses in Ameri
can literature were rarely ministers during this period and
usually held graduate degrees, frequently from Johns Hopkins
and the German universities.
129
No article advocating or inquiring into the teach­
ing of American literature in college levels has been found
for this period*
Between 1870 and 1890 there was a clearly observable
increase in the teaching of American literature on the col­
lege level.
CHAPTER III
SETTLEMENT: 1890-1918
Introduction
The period 1890-1918 is marked, in the development
of the study of American literature in colleges and univer­
sities of the United States, by the carrying forward of
phases of the work whose inception took place earlier, by
the introduction of the subject in additional institutions,
and by various extensions of the field.
The period is to be
regarded as one of transition, between the spade-work of the
scattered institutions offering work in American literature
during the ’seventies and ’eighties and the sound, though
still generally meager, establishment of courses that took
place between 1918 and 1939.
The purpose of this chapter
is to present a survey of the backgrounds out of which the
study of American literature emerged during this period, to
point out the lines of development which extend from an
earlier period, to single out and describe the newer phases
of the work, and evaluate the contributions of the various
institutions and influences involved in the movement.
For
the sake of convenience, the period is divided into three
decades.
130
131
Work In American Literature: 1890-1900
In 1890, courses In American literature were invari­
ably offered as a part of the work of the department of Eng­
lish.
By this date English composition and literature had
come to be regarded as of considerable importance and by the
middle of the decade 1890-1900, as a result of increasing en­
rollments and the popular and "required” status of English,
most Institutions had developed full-fledged departments of
English composition and literature.
Survey: William Morton Payne
The work of the colleges in this field was of suffi­
cient importance at this time to warrant publication in the
Chicago Dial (and a little later in book form) of a series of
articles on the subject.^"
The following institutions were rep­
resented by reports: Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Leland Stanford,
Cornell, Virginia, Illinois, Lafayette, Iowa, Chicago, Indiana,
California, Amherst, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Wiscon­
sin, Wellesley, Johns Hopkins, and Minnesota.
The studies
were supplemented by John Bell Henneman’s (University of Ten­
nessee) report "The Study of English In the South," reprinted
from the Sewanee Review (February, 1894).
English in American Universities. (William Morton Payne,
Editor) 18^5.
(Reprinted from the Chicago Dial,
1894.)
132
These reports cast light on the status of American
literature in American colleges and universities at this
date.
Of the 21 institutions represented, 13 mention the sub­
ject to a greater or less extent.
The reports from Nebraska,1
Yale,2 Columbia,3 Chicago,4 Michigan,5 Wellesley,6 and Leland
7
Stanford mention American literature as a distinct course
though in no great detail.
Some attention to the subject as
part of another field is indicated in the reports from Illi­
nois,8 Amherst,0 Wisconsin,10 and Cornell.11
The comments
from Tennessee and Lafayette are the most extensive and are
worthy of specific attention as revealing something of the
attitude of those institutions toward American materials.
At Lafayette American literature was studied as an
aspect of literature in general.
As F. A. March, the noted
philologist, reports it:
This series of required studies for the whole
class is continued during the second term of
Senior year by two exercises a week, with
weekly written papers from each student a r ­
ranged for the general study of some author, and
1 . Payne, 0£
2.
3.
4.
5.
6
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
.
Ibid.9
Ibid.,
Ibid.,
Ibid..
Ibid.,
Ibid.,
Ibid.,
Ibid..
Ibid.,
Ibid.,
PP
P*
P.
PP
P»
PP
PPP
PP
PP
cit., p. 128.
31, 33.
42.
88
117, 119.
147.
56-57.
71.
113-114.
139-140.
63.
.
133
the writing of an elaborate article, as
if for a quarterly review, which must con­
tain a discussion of the language of the
author. With the work of this term goes
another prize. The best work is done when
the author selected is an American. Students
find their own life and thought depicted in
the American authors. The language is their
own. They are specially drawn to them.
In the college reading room the American peri­
odicals are worn to tatters, while the E n g ­
lish publications, which were the main read­
ing of students of the last generation, lie
in fair covers, looking fresh from the binder.
Franklin, Bryant, Irving, Webster, Emerson,
Longfellow, Lowell, Mrs. Stowe, Whittier,
Holmes, have been handled with most hearty
and sympathetic admiration and intelligence.
One of the traditional high-days of Lafayette
is that on which Mr. Bryant made the public
presentation of this prize for the best study
of his own works to Mr. J. W. Bright, of '77,
now professor of English philology in Johns
Iiopkins University, his torch still burning
as he runs in the front .1
From the University of Tennessee, James Bell Ilenneman
Adopting the topical method as most clearly
defined for all purposes, in our own case,
we have made the seriotis study of American
literary conditions the subject for inves­
tigation for one whole year, just because it
contains the essence of our nationality, and
brings the facts and the possibilities of
American life and authorship closer home to
the youthful aspirant .2
1.
2.
Payne, o j d . c i t ., pp. 81-82.
Ibid., pp. 165-166.
134
With the exception of Tennessee and Lafayette, the
institutions reporting show in their comments no great en­
thusiasm for the teaching of American literature.
On the
other hand, the very matter-of-fact way in which they mention
courses in American literature suggests that the subject was
accepted by this date and no longer regarded as a novelty.
The individual comments on American literature courses are as
extensive, comment for comment, as those on English litera­
ture courses;
it is to be noted, however, that
8
of the
21
institutions represented do not in any way refer to work in
the field, while they give considerable attention to work
in English literature.
The general impression gained from these scattered
remarks
on American
literature
in colleges
and universities
is that
the subject had become an accepted adjunct to English
literature in the curricula, not in any wise so important as
English literature but not very different in kind.
The aes­
thetic point of view is stressed throughout the articles— not
so much in opposition to the sociological approach, however,
1
as to the philological.
1.
Payne, ojo. c i t ., p. 21.
"The study of literature, not
of biography nor of literary history, not of grammar,
not of etymology, not of anything but the works
themselves, viewed as their creators wrote them,
viewed as art, as transcripts of humanity,— not as
logic, not as psychology, not as ethics.
(Continued on following page)
135
The setting of the American literature "problem" at
this date and the degree of importance which was attached to
it In the mind of the editor, W. M. Payne, are illustrated by
the following:
Space fails me in which to discuss the many
remaining subjects of interest offered by a
comparative examination of these reports.
I
should like to speak of the growing importance
of graduate work In English, of the tendency
to give a larger place to Seminar investiga­
tion, of the historical asoect of literary
study, of the extent to which American litera­
ture should receive special treatment, of the
importance of Introducing courses which bring
into comparison the literatures of culture, of
the Inexhaustible subject of special methods
of Instruction, and the equally inexhaustible
subject of the general aims to be kept in view
by the teacher of literature. But such dis­
cussion must await another occasion .1
Such was the immediate academic milieu in which American
literature courses were to function; with minor modifica­
tions, it Is the background against which American literature
courses are still (1941) presented.
1.
"Literary masterpieces should be studied chiefly,
It seems to me, for their beauty.
It is because of
their charm, their beauty, that they have immortality;
it is only because of this that we study them at all."
"These remarks, which might be multiplied indefinite­
ly, seem to me fairly typical of the spirit in which
the subject of English literature is studied in our
colleges and universities.
(W. AT. Payne)
Payne, ojo. cit., pp. 28-29.
136
Philology and American Literature
The rising preoccupation with philological, linguis­
tic study, particularly on the graduate level, was troubling
the waters in university circles during this period.
The
study of Anglo-Saxon was of long standing, going back to
Jefferson's "school" of Anglo-Saxon at the University of V i r ­
ginia (1825) and coming down through the work of such scholars
as George Perkins Marsh at Columbia, Francis A. March at Laf­
ayette, William. Baskervill at Tennessee, and James V/, Bright
at Johns Hopkins.
The influence of the German universities
and of Johns Hopkins, whose department of English under James
W. Bright (See Page 3 75,76) was almost wholly devoted to
1
linguistic study,
tion.
was solidly and impressively in this direc­
The large numbers of graduate students who went into
college teaching from Johns Hopkins and the German universities
gave a peculiar strength to the line of influence wh ich they
represented.
(See Page 75)
Opposition to the study of literature as linguistics
and to the philosophy underlying such an approach became a r ­
ticulate in the 'nineties and found lively expression in the
Sewanee Review.
Henry E. Shepherd, President of the College
of Charleston, gave credit and praise to the philologists,
1.
William Peterfield Trent, The Teaching of English Literature, Sewanee Review, Vol. 12 (October, 1904), p. 406.
137
but attacked the practice of allowing philology to dominate
English literature departments and instructional methods:
I utter my warning against the subordination
and repression of the literary sense by the
exclusive devotion to a hard verbal discipline,
a cold, fastidious exegesis of language, which
is eminently characteristic of university train­
ing in the United States....In nearly all Ameri­
can universities...the study of English litera­
ture in the highest and best sense holds no
recognized place. Harvard should be especially
noted in the list of exceptions; long may it
continue to merit this honorable and rare pre­
eminence 11
Shepherd proceeds to mention the lack of a scholarly
publication hospitable to a general aesthetic approach to
literature, and accuses the philoligical publications such as
the Publication of the Modern Language Association of down­
right hostility to articles with a literary flavor--"...the
suspected guest is subjected to a species of philological
2
quarantine."
He mentions agreement with his point of view
on the part of Churton Collins, James Russell Lowell, Seth
Low (President of Columbia University), James Bryce, and Dr.
Hamilton W. Mabie— the last in an address on February 22,
1892 at Johns Hopkins University itself, "that stronghold
3
and sanctuary of philological orathodoxy and conservatism."
1.
2.
3.
English Philology and English Literature in American Uni­
versities, Sewanee Review, Vol. 1 (February, 1893),
pp. 154-155.
Shepherd, ojd . c it ., p. 159.
Ibid., p. 160.
138
William Peterfield Trent of Columbia University fol­
lowed Shepherd with an article in May, 1893 which reaffirmed
the theses.
He states that teachers of the past generation
taught history for its literary content, but that contempo­
rary college teachers discuss ''from a distinctly non-literary
stand-point a few authors, or rather a few selections from a
few authors under the impression that they are teaching lit-
erature.
1
William Norman Cuthrie, writing at the end of the
2
decade, in 1900, appealed against the dissection of poetry.
The contention was occasioned by the fact that two
essentially different points of view had been established
within a single subject and department; the philological a t ­
titude was dissective, analytical--the literary attitude was
belletristic, aesthetic, interpretive, cynthetical*
The
philological derived from the earlier work in Greek and Latin—
taught as languages rather than literature; the literary d e­
rived from the earlier courses in oratory, rhetoric, and
3
belles lettres.
1.
2.
3.
William Peterfield Trent, The Teaching of English Litera­
ture, Sewanee Review, Vol. 1 (May, 1893), p. 264.
William Norman Guthrie, The Vital Study of Literature,
Sewanee Review, Vol. 8 (April, 1900), p. 219.
Prank Aydelotte, The Oxford Stamp and Other Essays, (The
History of English as a College Subject in the United
States), pp. 176, 192.
139
To commend It strongly to college teachers of the
'seventies and
'eighties, linguistic study had the following
aspects: it was sufficiently like the traditional approach
to the languages of Greece and Rome to require no new tech­
niques and no defense; it was reasonably difficult and hence
academically respectable since it provided "mental disci­
pline"; it was relatively exact, and achievement in it could
be measured with a fair degree of certainly; and it was static
and remote— not subject to changing modes and judgments
In favor of the other— the aesthetic point of view— there were
all the arguments of Arnold, Pater, and Ruskin, the various
"defenses" of poetry back to the time of Sidney, the greater
literary facility of its advocates, a n d — supremely important
in an academic world more and more dominated by the elective
system— the fact that students seem to have found courses in
"pure" literature relatively easy and interesting.
The results of this contest can be observed in any
college.
On the undergraduate level, courses in literature
have multiplied with biological velocity, and courses in
linguistics have almost entirely diappeared.
On the gradu­
ate level, Philology has held its own by sheer tenacity of
its practitioners and the fact that as elders in Academe they
1.
Aydelotte, ojo. c it., p. 191.
"Old English was a
resource; if not quite so hard and not quite
ancient as Latin, it was still both hard and
ready
so
old."
140
have commanded respect out of proportion to their numbers.
In many universities, Anglo-Saxon is still required for the
master’s degree with a "major" in English.
After 1900, Philology and Literature operated under a
modus vivendi in the undergraduate fields of literary study;
on the graduate level the issue is still joined.
Intermit­
tently, since 1900, there have been attacks on the philologi­
cal position and on the alignment of graduate study in English
in general.
Writing in 1925 Fred Lewis Pattee describes the
jejune, scientific dissection of the ending of Romeo and
Juliet which he witnessed in a German university in 1909 and
laments the general nature of the American doctoral disserta­
tion— its lack of imagination, its usual choice of subject,
and its pedantic technique.
He recalls dissertations r e ­
jected for lack of footnotes of sufficient elaboration, for
expression of personal opinion, for lack of a sufficiently
academic subject.
And he queries, of the literary technique
of the scholars, "This cold-blooded dissection of a living
classic as if it were a stinking cadaver, was this what poetry
had descended into?"'*'
In describing the new (1937) doctoral
degree in American life and literature offered by Harvard, a
writer in the Saturday Review of Literature reports of the
candidate:
1.
Fred Lewis Pattee, Tradition and Jazz (The Old Professor
of English: an Autopsy)
p. 194.
141
....More important still he is liberated
from the philological requirements which
have been the worst obscenity in the aca­
demic study of literature and have forced
the student to spend from a fifth to a
third of his apprenticeship on work that
has nothing whatever to do with literary
values.
The man who is interested in the
novels of Herman Melville may now get to
work on them without first torturing him­
self with Gothic, Gaelic, Frisian, Erse,
Icelandic, the history of English grammar,
and other academic grotesques of which
Melville never heard.1
It may probably be asserted safely enough that the
philological influence did not operate favorably toward the
study of American literature.
The adherents to the theories
of linguistic study as an approach to literature were likely
to be preoccupied, and hardly convinced of the importance of
any belletristic study.
Moreover, seeing literature as they
did from a language basis, they were unlikely to feel any
great difference between the English and the American field.
With all the linguistics in the air, there was almost
no study of American linguistics— adequate proof that what
attracted university professors to philological study was not
its scientific side so much as the remoteness and static na­
ture of its subject matter.
Scheie de Vere, professor of
belles lettres at the University of Virginia, published his
1.
Enlightened Research, Saturday Review of Literature, Vol.
15 (April 10, 19371, p. 8 .
142
1
Americanisms in 1871.
The president's report at Tufts col2
lege (1898-1899) mentions projected work in the field.
At
the University of Michigan, George Hempl (a philologist of
the first order) offered a course in American Spoken English,
3
1891 to 1897, and 1899 to 1906.
But otherwise philology
concerned itself generally with "far-off, unhappy things"
like Gothic, Frisian, and the quality of Northumbrian vowels.
Although the theory and practice of philology did not
favor a line of academic development likely to include and
extend the study of American literature, it did not directly
impede it.
Many professors, in this period or earlier, whose
major interests and training were in philology were of suffi­
cient cultural breadth to recognize to some extent at least
the importance of American literature as a part of the English
literature curriculum.
George Lyman Kittredge of Harvard en­
couraged the development of the American field within his de-
1.
2.
3.
D, M. R. Culbreth, The University of Virginia, p. 395.
Tufts College, Presidents Report 1898-99, p. 36. "For
the past two years interest has been manifested by cer­
tain instructors and students in that branch of the
work of the American Dialect Society which looks toward
the publication of a dictionary of Americanisms.
The
works of Cotton Mather have been assigned to Tufts Col­
lege. Mr. Earle [Samuel C.] has compiled a bibliogra­
phy of five hundred and six titles, and five persons
have co-operated in the discovery of two hundred and
thirty-three words not recognized by the current d i c ­
tionaries ."
University of Michigan, Catalogues 1891-92, pp. 56-57;
1897-98; 1899-1900, p. 69; 1906-07.
14-3
1
parteent;
Felix Schelling of .Pennsylvania (although he did
2
not believe in the "Americanness" of American literature)
had no objections to a cotirse in the subject as a part of the
3
work offered under his leadership.
Hiram Corson of Cornell
4
taught American material, and later James Morgan Hart (See
Page 103) authorized the first distinct course in American
literature there.
William Baskervill of Tennessee, although
primarily an Anglo-Saxon scholar, was vitally interested in
5
the teaching of American literature.
Similarly, Francis A.
March of Lafayette— famous in the field of philology and Old
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Van Wyck Brooks, Hew England: Indian Summer, p. 32, note.
’’Child’s work, carried on by George Lyman Kittred.ge,
was influential in later efforts to collect the
’vagrant' American verse of the Southern mountaineers,
the Negroes, the cowboys, the Maine lumberjacks, etc."
Letter: Kenneth B. Murdock (Professor of English, Har­
vard University), 21 August 1S39.
"...the members of
the Department were, I think, sympathetic and inter­
ested in American Literature, and I well remember the
encouragement Professor Kittredge used to give me."
See Pattee, ojo. cit., p. 212.
Letter: Arthur Hobson Quinn (Professor of English, Uni­
versity of Pennsylvania), 11 July 1939. ” ...1 only
waited the opportunity to devote myself practically
exclusively to American literature.
Professor Schell­
ing was hospitable to my desire, and I have not had to
fight, as some men did, against any prejudice on his
part..,.His attitude was, however, that of the older
scholar in English literature, namely that Americans
should be treated with English writers rather than b y
themselves."
Cornell University, Register, December 1892, p. 6 8 :
"Readings, with comments, from English and American
prose writers.
(Corson)"
John Bell Henneman, The Late Professor Baskervill, Sewanee
Review, Vol. 8 (January, 1900), pp. 26 ff.
144
The Aesthetic Approach and American Literature
American literature as a possible college subject had
to meet another stream of influence less definite than that
of the linguistic philosophy but perhaps even more pervasive,
the line of influence which dictated that the only litera­
ture worth studying was that presenting an intrinsic dividend
in emotional, spiritual, or aesthetic appeal and which ex­
cluded literature mainly important as social documentation.
Compared to English literature, American literature (particu­
larly up to 1900) was poor in this respect, and under this
dispensation it could not but suffer by comparison.
The fre­
quent references in college catalogues to Poe, Hawthorne, and
Emerson and the general omission of the political, histori­
cal, and economic writers of the United States are testimony
to this attitude.
The influence of the inclusive type of
literary history begun by Moses Coit Tyler did not potently
affect the study of American letters before the time of Vernon
Louis Parrington.
It may be well at this point, where a new alignment
(the sociological) of American literature work in the col­
leges and universities becomes apparent, to review the point
of view prevailing earlier.
For a time— the heyday of the
Shaw-Tuckerman Outline and Sketch of American Literature--the
objective had been primarily informational; students were re­
145
quired to memorize facts about authors and their works.
Overlapping this tendency in point of time and eventually
overshadowing it was the linguistic tendency, imported from
Germany, and making much of Anglo-Saxon, Chaucer, and Shakes­
peare from an analytical, " scientific” point of departure.
The revolt against this linguistic and historical
tendency took the form of a movement toward the teaching of
literature for aesthetic qualities--for the pleasure, broad­
ening of mind, katharsis to be gained from it.
Articles in
the Sewanee Revie?; already quoted defended this position and
college announcements echo it.
The follov/ing statements are
evidence of this alignment, the first of which may be taken
as its delimitation:
Cornell University (1887-88)
"It Is made a
leading purpose in these lectures to pre­
sent the literature, in its essential
character, rather than in its historical,
though the latter receives attention, but
not such as to set the minds of the stu­
dents especially in that direction.
It
is considered all important that students
should first attain to a sympathetic appre­
ciation of what is essential and intrinsic,
before the adventitious features of litera­
ture— features due to time and place— be
considered ."1
University of Illinois (1891-92) "American
Authors...This survey is mainly critical,
rather than historical and b i o g r a p h i c a l ...."2
1.
2,
Cornell University, Register 1887-80, p. 58.
University of Illinois, Circular 1891-92, p. 123.
146
Tufts College (1891-92)
"...Some attention
is paid to biographical details and to
striking events in the history of the
period, but to read intelligently is
esteemed at first importance . . . .^1
University of Oregon
(1S93-94) "...The ob­
ject is to get a knowledge of literature
and to obtain literary culture, rather
than to memorize a mass of barren facts
and barren words ."2
Western Reserve University (1894-95) "A few
of the poems of Bryant, Whittier and
Longfellow will be studied as illus­
trating certain poetic types and artis­
tic principles ."0
College of the City of Mew York (1895-96)
...the study of the history of English
and American literature, not only as a
chronological outline of authors and
their works, but also as a critical esti­
mate of their writings ..."4
Middlebury College (1897-98) "American Litera­
ture— A course partly historical but for
the most part literary."5
University of Richmond (1898-99) "...every
effort will be made to develop the crit­
ical faculties of the student...."®
University of North Dakota (1899-1900) "...
the aim is to cultivate the taste of the
strident for the best things in literature
by the careful study of a series of master-
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
.
6
Tufts College, Catalogue 1891-92, p. 51.
University of Oregon, Catalogue 1893-94, p. 30.
Western Reserve University, Catalogue 1894-95, p. 51.
College of the City of New York, Annual Register 1895-96,
p . 24.
L.iddlebury College, Catalogue 1897-98, p. 26.
University of Richmond, Catalogue 1897-98 (98-99), p. 94.
147
pieces, to give him an idea of the
history of the development of the
various literary species, and to direct
him in the acquirement of correct prin­
ciples of literary criticism and inter­
pretation." 1
University of I'issouri (1699-1900) "The
leading writers in prose and verse are
considered first as to their intrinsic
worth, and, secondly, as illustrative
of national development ."2
Washington University (1905-06) "...first,
to ascertain the intrinsic merit of each
writer; second, to determine his place
in the development of national or sec­
tional thought."3
The terms "artistic principles," "intrinsic merit,"
"correct principles of literary criticism," "critical facul­
ties," "literary culture" as well as the whole tone of these
course descriptions indicate the prevalence of the aesthetic
critique
(in the Cornell description as sharply opposed to
the sociological)— the judging of a literary production with­
out much allowance for time and place.
The source of this
critique is not lightly to he designated.
Certainly, at this
date the influence of Mathew Arnold, John Ruskiri, and .Valter
Pater was in this direction.
It was against this theory that Parrington later
1.
2.
3.
University of North Dakota, Catalogue 1898-99 (1899-1900),
pp. 47-48.
University of Missouri, Catalogue 1899-1900, p, 79.
V/ashington University, Catalogue 1904-05 (05-06), pp. 5253.
148
aligned his commentaries— urging, to use other terms, the
ob jective, explanatory critique (in which the critic ex­
plains but does not judge) against the classical-impression1
istic critique.
As evidence of liow deeply ingrained was the
aesthetic point of view, Farrington’s own not infrequent di2
vergence toward an aesthetic position may be adduced.
In
theory, Parrington was inclined to exclude belles lettres
"conventional literature"
(Cerveny’s words) preferring to
dwell on political, economic, and sociological materials
Literature courses moving in this direction had a
formidable adversary in the exponents of literature for lit­
erature’s sake.
Carried very far, Darrington's theory soon
has literature in the position of a guide to history— which
is no literary critique at all, but an historical method—
the legitimate, objective principle being the explanation and
illumination of aesthetically valuable works by examination
of f acts— historical, biographical, economic, psychological,
3
and social— germane to their production.
The investigator's observations lead him to believe
that this— the aesthetic — is still (1S4-1) the dominant phi­
losophy of Instruction in departments of Lnglish.
1.
.
3.
2
And it
G-eorge R. Cerveny, A Study of Vernon Louis Parrington *s
Vet hod of Literary Criticism: ~It3 Origin, Its Con­
t e n t , Its Influence, pp. 2-4.
Ibid., p. 149.
"Cfh "Loc . c i t .
149
seems to have been at least equally strong when courses In
American literature were beginning to appear.
Perhaps the
professors in becoming more thoroughly trained in their
technical field became less conscious of the national life
about them and less interested in it.
Aloofness from prac­
tical affairs and in particular from political affairs seems
to have been almost a tenet of the "scientific" thought of
the late 1800’s.
attitude).
(See Page 154 for Barrett Wendell’s
The keen interest in national politics revealed
again and again in the letters and diary of Moses Coit Tyler
still seems a trifle strange.
Even the precedent of a col­
lege professor as president of the United States (Woodrow
Wilson) and of another learned man as governor of Connecticut
(Wilbur Cross) has not been sufficient to remove the feeling
that men of letters are out of place in political affairs —
as witness the appellation "brain-trusters" applied in our
own time to professors called in to advise on highly techni­
cal governmental problems.
Combination Courses
The usual arrangement to provide for the teaching of
American literature, aside from the separate American litera­
ture coiirse, during this period (1890-1900) was still the
1
combination "English and American Literature" course, handed
1,
Duke University, Catalogue 1896-97 (97-98), p. 56; Iowa
150
down, perhaps, as a result of the strong feeling still prev­
alent
that the two were merely aspects of the same basic sub­
ject,
and more immediately as a result of the domination of
literary study by such books as Shaw's Manual which included
material on both within one text.
It is impossible to state
certainly that in all institutions American literature did
not receive separate and distinct treatment as a different
genre at the hands of the professors, but it seems unlikely
under the circumstances.
The dominant principle of the period
seems
to have beenthe aesthetic (tinged with the philosophi­
cal),
and probably no great need was felt for the separation
of English and American letters.
But the fact that even the
word American begins to appear In the titles of these combi­
nation courses is an indication that the sense of differentia­
tion between the two literatures was growing more definite in
the minds of university authorities.
Another combination which included American materials,
University, Catalogue 1889-90 (90-91), p. 25; Univer­
sity of Minnesota, Catalogue 1893-94 (94-95), p. 94;
Northwestern University, Catalogue 1892-93 (93-94),
pp. 45-46; Antioch College, Catalogue 1898-99, p. 21;
University of Arizona, Register 1893-94 (94-95), p. 58.
University of Arkansas, Catalogue 1894 (95), p. 72.
Bowdoin College, Catalogue 1894-95, p. 38; College of
Charleston, Catalogue 1898-99 (1899-1900), p. 41;
Cornell University, Register 1892-93, p. 68; University
of Delaware, Catalogue 1894, p. 24; University of
Maine, Catalogue 1892-93, p. 18; University of North
Carolina, Catalogue 1890-91, p. 46; University of
Rochester, Catalogue 1890-91, pp. 35-36.
151
particularly in Southern institutions, was ’’Rhetoric, Oratory,
and American Literary Selections— Required— Freshmen.’’
Vari­
ants of this type of course were announced in many institu-
1
tions.
In these courses American masterpieces were studied
on a rhetorical basis, as models of what should be done in
2
composition and oratory;
frequently the exercise seems to
have degenerated into a matter of "parallel" or "private”
reading, on which the student was examined periodically for
knowledge of plot--the rhetorical implications being left
3
more or less to his own discernment.
Out of this combina­
tion came, here and there, distinct courses in American
oratory; in these, no doubt, the rhetorical connections were
4
kept more clearly in view.
1.
2.
3.
4.
University of Arizona, Register 1894-95, pp. 58-59; Bates
College, Catalogue 1892-93, pp. 31-32; College of
Charleston, Catalogue 1896-97, p. 18; University of
Delaware, Catalogue 1894-95, p. 24; Hampden-Sydney
College, Catalogue 1891, p. 16; Louisiana State Uni­
versity, Catalogue 1895-96, p. 21; University of North
Carolina, Catalogue 1890-91, p. 46; University of
Pennsylvania, Catalogue 1892-93, p. 50; University of
South Carolina, Catalogue 1893-94, p. 23; Syracuse
University, Catalogue 1890-91, p. 90; Temple Univer­
sity, Catalogue 1897-98, p. 24; University of Tennessee,
Catalogue 1894-95, p. 25; Western Reserve University,
Catalogue 1892-93, p. 134; Notre Dame University,
Catalogue 1897-98, pp. 38-42.
Aydelotte, o£. cit., p. 190.
Observation of the author, University of Georgia, 1930-33.
DePauw University, Catalogue 1900-01, p. 53; University
of Washington, Catalogue 1899-1900, p. 119; Georgetown
University, Catalogue 1896-97, p. 41.
152
In neither the "English and American Literature"
courses nor the "Rhetoric, Oratory, American Literature"
courses could it be said that American literature was really
studied as American letters; in the former it was studied as
aesthetic literature in general, and in the latter as a form
of rhetorical exercise.
Separate Courses Introduced
On the whole, the decade 1890-1900 is a period of
considerable expansion in the teaching of American literature
on the college level.
There was wide extension of separate
courses in the field.
The following institutions'' which had
done little or nothing toward teaching the subject before
this time now introduced separate courses in it:
Alabama (1894-95)
Arizona (1894-95)
Arkansas (1895-96)
Brown (1892-93)
Bowdoin (1898-99)
California (1890-91)
Chicago (1895-96)
Colby (1894-95)
Colorado (1898-99)
Colgate (1892-93)
Columbia (1893-94)
Cornell (1899-1900)
Delaware (1897-9
Leland Stanford (1891-92)
Middlebury (1890-91)
Missouri (1893-94)
hew Hampshire (1891-92)
Northwestern (1890-91)
Oberlin (1890-91)
Ohio State (1890-91)
Oklahoma (1896-97)
Oregon (1893-94)
Pennsylvania (1892-93)
Pennsylvania State (1895-96)
Pittsburgh (1890-91)
Princeton (1894-95)
Several of these institutions had offered a modicum of
work in American literature— usually as a part of an­
other course--before the date indicated.
Inclusion in
the list above Is by virtue of announcement of defi­
nite, separate courses in American literature.
153
DePauw (1891-92)
Dickinson (1898-99)
Drury (1898-99)
George Washington (1890-91)
Georgetown (1896-97)
Georgia (1897-98)
Goucher (1899-1900)
Harvard (1897-98)
Heidelberg (1892-93)
Hobart (1898-99)
Idaho (1898-99)
Iowa (1897-98)
Rochester (1890-91)
Southern California (1899-1900)
Tennessee (1897-98)
Texas (1899-1900)
Tufts (1891-92)
Union (1895-96)
Vermont (1893-94)
Virginia (1894-95)
Univ. of Washington (1892-93)
West Virginia (1892-93)
Western Reserve (1894-95)
Yale (1892-93)
Impetus was likewise given by the founding or reorganization of
Leland Stanford University, the University of California, and
the University of Chicago, with inclusion of work in American
literature.
Strong work in the field was carried forward
from the previous decade by the following:
Antioch (1877-78 mixed; 1885-86 separate)
Baylor (1871-72 separate)
Bucknell (1879-80 mixed; 1884-85 separate)
Dartmouth (1882-83 separate)
Franklin & Marshall (1879-80 separate)
Hamilton (1887-88 separate)
Indiana (1882-83 separate)
Kansas (1886-87 separate)
Michigan (1875-76 separate)
Minnesota (1878-79 separate)
Mississippi (1887 separate)
Mt. Holyoke (1887-88 separate)
Nebraska (1883-84 separate)
Notre Dame (1887-88 separate)
Ohio University (1887-88 separate)
Smith (1886 separate)
University of the South (1886-87 separate)
Vanderbilt (1887-88 separate)
Wellesley (1886 separate)
Wisconsin (1882-83 separate)
154
Influential Institutions and Instructors
Moreover, during the decade 1890-1900 several influ­
ential Institutions introduced or Intensified definite courses
in American literature, and professors who are still remembered
as potent and skillful teachers began to take an interest in
American letters.
At Harvard, Barrett Wendell began his work
during this period, lending to the subject the prestige of
his somewhat eccentric but always brilliant and provocative
1
personality and instruction.
1.
At Columbia, a feeling for the
Barrett Wednell's attitude toward the study of American
literature and indeed his attitude toward the American
scene in general, perhaps as a result of contact with
Lowell, was remarkably confused.
Letter: John C. French (Librarian, Johns Hopkins Univer­
sity), 30 June 1939. "I took Barrett Wendell's course
In 'American Literature' and was much influenced by it;
though I often disagreed with him and disliked his snob­
bishness and cocksureness. He was, however, always
stimulating....1 suspect that Wendell and his rather
curious book had something to do with the increase of
Interest in the early nineteen hundreds. He turned
attention toward literary history, which is, of course,
the proper approach. Previous writers, like Richard­
son, had succeeded in making their books dull, though
informa tive•"
Letter: Kenneth B. Murdock (Professor of English, Harvard
University), 21 August 1939. "...Barrett Wendell did
give impetus to the subject American Literature, but
I think he was not very wholeheartedly interested in
it
Letter: Bliss Perry (Professor-emeritus, Harvard Univer­
sity), 14 July 1939. "Barrett Wendell, for instance,
gave for years a brilliant course in American authors
as 'Professor of English' and maintained that there was
no such thing as 'American Literature,' but only 'Litera­
ture in America I'"
Van Wyck Brooks, New England: Indian Summer, pp. 426-27.
("Continued on following page)
155
new approach to literature resulted in the appointment of
Brander Patthews who began there a strong tradition in Ameri1
can letters.
At Brown, Lorenzo Sears was to become the
2
first Professor of American Literature in the United States.
1.
2.
"The ’last of the tories,’ as he called himself, would
have been a tory all the time; but glorying in this, as
he certainly was free to do, how could he have shared
the springtime faith? He was hostile to the French
Revolution (Note: 'Lore than a little philanthropic pur­
pose was accomplished, they say.'), he deplored the
American Revolution, which had divided the Englishspeaking world; and, missing the significance of all
the Revolution stood for, he had missed, the meaning of
of his country.,.and yet the paradoxical Barrett ’/Vendell
saw in himself a defender of ’American traditions.'"
(See also pp. 409, 411, 504)
Yet Van vVyck Brooks included 7/endell among "A remarkable
group of powerful teachers" who heavily influenced the
rising literary men of the day.
Nicholas Murray Butler, Across the Busy Y e ars, pp. 162-63.
"It seemed to us important that in the field of English
literature the University should have the inspiration
and service of men of letters who were not primarily
academic teachers. To that end we brought George E d ­
ward V/oodbury from Boston, together with Brander
Matthews, George Rice Carpenter and william. P. Trent."
Brander Matthews was influential in aiding establishment
of the sociological (and even economic) interpretation
of literature.
(See Cerveny, _oo. cit. , pp. 62-64)
Brown University, President’s Report, June 20, 1895, p. 16.
"Dr. Gears will next year give instruction in American
literature... .Dr. Sears' training admirably fits him
to teach American letters, a section of literature now
to be his special charge.
Brown University, President's Report, June 17, 1897, p. 37.
"Report of the Associate ''•’rofessor of American Litera­
ture" signed "Lorenzo Sears."
Historical Catalogue of Brown University, 1764-1904, p. 43.
"Lorenzo Sears A. B., A. L., Litt. D. Associate Profes­
sor of Rhetoric 1890-92; Rhetoric and Oratory 1892-95;
American Literature 1895— ."
Cf. Henry Louis Mencken, Ihe American Language (4th ed.) ,
156
1
At Leland Stanford, A. G. Newcomer taught the subject.
Pennsylvania State College, Fred Lewis Pattee—
At
one of the
strongest advocates of the teaching of American literature—
2
was beginning his career.
Attention to American literature
was being attracted at Yale by the work of A. S. Cook and
3
William Lyons Phelps.
Katharine Lee Bates was teaching the
4
subject at Wellesley.
W. B. Cairns took up work in American
5
literature during this decade at the University of Wisconsin.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
p. 54, n. 1. "....The first professorship of American
literature seems to have been established at the Penn­
sylvania State College in 1894, with Dr. Fred Lewis
Pattee as the incumbent."
Cf. Letter: Fred Lewis Pattee, 30 June 1939. "Mencken is
wrong when he says I was the first to be given the title
Professor of American Literature."
Leland Stanford University, First Annual Catalogue, 189192, pp. 13, 50. "Alphonso Gerald Newcomer A. M. Assist­
ant Professor, A. B. Michigan, *87; A. M. Cornell, '8 8 .
Instructor of Latin and French, Knox College, 1889-91."
(p. 13)
"21 American Literature: letters and discussions based
upon Richardson and Stedman. Students in this course
are expected to possess the works of the chief Ameri­
can poets, especially Lowell, Longfellow, Whittier,
Bryant, Poe, and Lanier. Assistant Professor Newcomer."
(p. 50)
Throughout the year, 3 hours a week.
Pennsylvania State College, Catalogue 1894-95, p. 4.
"Fred Lewis Pattee, Assistant Professor, English and
Rhetoric."
(No American Literature mentioned.)
Pennsylvania State College, Catalogue 1895-96, p. 128.
"American Literature: The history of American litera­
ture, with a view to the fundamental principles under­
lying its development."
Seniors, winter session, 5
hours a week.
Yale University, Catalogue 1892-93, p. 51.
Yale University, Catalogue 1898-99. p. 83.
Wellesley College, Catalogue 1897-98, p. 51.
University of Wisconsin, Catalogue 1898-99, p. 114 (See
Page 226)
157
1
And there were others, among them Killis Campbell at Texas,
2
R. A. Armstrong at West Virginia,
L. S. Potwin at Western
3
4
5
Reserve, C, W, Kent at Virginia, D. L. Maulsby at Tufts,
6
S. M. Shute at G-eorge Washington University,
Oscar Triggs
7
8
at Chicago, and C. W. Pearson at Northwestern,
The men
who were probably strongest in the field during the previous
decade carried on the tradition in their institutions, notably
9
Isaac Demmon at Michigan and Charles F, Richardson at
10
Dartmouth,
Graduate Work-*--*Aiding greatly in the extension of the influence of
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
University of Texas, Catalogue 1899-1900, p, 54.
University of West Virginia, Catalogue 1897-98, p, 79.
Western Reserve University, Catalogue 1896-97, p. 52.
University of Virginia, Catalogue 1893-94 (94-95), pp. v, 14.
Tufts College, Catalogue 1891-92, p, 6 .
George Washington University, Catalogue 1893-94, pp. 4, 5.
University of Chicago, Catalogue 1892-93 (93-94) p. 75.
Northwestern University, Catalogue 1894-95, p. 59.
University of Michigan, Catalogue 1885-86, p. 52 (and
catalogues following) .
Letter: T. E. Rankin (Professor of English, Carleton
College), 12 July 1939. "Professor Isaac N. Demmon
was 'the next dominant figure in encouraging the study
of American literature' at the University of Michigan,—
next, that is to say, to Moses Colt Tyler....I should
say, however, that Professor Demmon's work probably
did a great deal more for the study in that field than
did that of Professor Tyler....Eis very patient assidu­
ity and his earnestness for accuracy on the part of
the student, and his methods in general a nd in particu­
lar are I feel sure much more important In the history
of study at Ann Arbor than was all that Tyler did,
despite Tyler's brilliance and originality."
Letter: Alfred M. Hitchcock, 19 July 1939 (See Page 159)
In the following institutions in the catalogue years in-
158
particular Institutions during this period was the intro­
duction of graduate work in the field of American literature.
The graduate offering was not very impressive at this time,
hut it represented a beginning in the training of students
who, with graduate degrees, would represent the subject and
their institutions in widely scattered parts of the nation.
At some time between 1890 and 1900, the following institu­
tions were offering graduate work in American literature:
1
2
3
Arkansas (1894-97), Brown (1893-97), California (1890-93),
4
5
Dartmouth (1895-96), George Washington (1895-96),
George6
7
town (1896-1900), Harvard (1897-1900), Leland Stanford
8
9
(1891-92, 1894-98), Minnesota (1893-98), Mississippi
10
11
(1890-1900),
Virginia (1894-95, 1899-1900),
Yale (1892-
.
.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
1
2
9.
10.
11,
dicated graduate courses in American literature seem
to have been definitely graduate, i.e. not open to
undergraduates: Arkansas (1894), Dartmouth (1895-96),
George Washington (1895-96), Georgetown (1895-96),
Harvard (1897-98), Leland Stanford (1891-92; 1894-95),
Minnesota (1892-93), Mississippi (1890-91; 1896-97),
Virginia (1893-94), Tennessee (1899-1900).
University of Arkansas, Catalogue 1894, p. 73.
Brown University, Catalogue 1893-94, p. 67.
University of California, Catalogue 1890-91, p. 45.
Dartmouth College, Catalogue 1895-96, p. 52.
George Washington University, Catalogue 1895-96, p. 95.
Georgetown University, Catalogue 1895-96, p. 27.
Harvard University, Catalogue 1897-98, p. 329.
Leland Stanford University, First Annual Register 1891-92,
p. 51; Register (1894-95), p. 6 8 .
University of Minnesota, Catalogue 1892-93 (93-94), p. 89.
University of Mississippi, Catalogue 1890-91, p. 62.
"...session of 1890-91...."
University of Virginia, Catalogue 1893-94 (94-95), p. 14;
1898-99 (99-1900), p. 6 8 .
159
1
1900),
2
Tennessee (1899-1900)*
During this period the
University of Virginia offered what was probably the first
course of graduate work in American literature leading to
3
the Ph. D. degree.
The rather spasmodic occurrence of courses
suggests that they may have been offered— as the course was
Dartmouth— as a result of individual students' or instructors'
4
interests•
The graduate work at Dartmouth at this relatively
early date is Interestingly modern in its breadth.
The stu­
dent for whom the course was devised (Alfred M. Hitchcock)
writes thus of it:
When in 1895, I decided to give a year to the
study of literature, I was unable to find a
college offering a course in American litera­
ture.
In despair I wrote to Professor Richard­
son. He replied that though Dartmouth offered
no course in that field, he would, for the
first time in his teaching, accept a graduate
student.
(He never repeated the experiment I)
That year at Dartmouth was extremely pleasant
and profitable.
I reported once a week at
Professor Richardson's home for conference or
quizj the rest of the time was spent, day and
night, In reading— and thinking. Richardson
made me think....The first two books read were
Bryce's American Commonwealth and Weeden's
Economic '
Hlistory of Hew England. I was urged
...to spend a fortnight in Washington listening
1.
2.
3.
4.
Yale University, Catalogue 1892-93, p. 151.
University of Tennessee, Catalogue 1899-1900 (1900-01),
p. 56.
University of Virginia, Catalogue 1891-92 (92-93), p. 12.
See Letter following. (Alfred M. Hitchcock)
160
to Congressional speeches. American
literature could not he understood, my
teacher thought, unless one knew some­
thing about American life. I did manage
...a few days in Boston, even gaining en­
trance to the Massachusetts Historical
Society library, where I read in the orig­
inal manuscript Of Plimoth Plantation.
It is not easy for me to make clear Richard­
s o n ’s method of leading me to an appreciation
of the works of individual authors. It was
mainly a matter of sharp, patient question­
ing intended to make me think. Rarely did
he give his estimate of poem or novel.
Perry,
in his talk on Whitman, through careful ex­
position and through the skillful reading of
W h i t m a n ’s verse, conveyed to his listeners
the impression made by Whitman on him.
Richardson strove through his questioning to
lead me, through thinking, to a just evalua­
tion.!
The approach at Dartmouth was thus along historical,
sociological lines, with even a suggestion of the economic
consideration; and it did not apparently partake of the textual-examination, influence-tracing technique which was so
strongly in favor in graduate work in British literature at
this time and which has only recently ceased to dominate com­
pletely the scene in graduate literary study.
Undergraduate Courses
The dominant undergraduate course in American litera­
ture as such between 1890 and 1900 was the survey course,
1.
Letter: Alfred M. Hitchcock, 19 July 1939.
161
1
based usually upon one textbook — a history of American lit­
erature-supplemented by outside, individual reading of "the
authors."
The following institutions offered courses of this
type:
Chicago 1896-97, p. 144
Middlebury 1895-96, p. 20
Colby 1894-95, p. 43
Nebraska 1896-97, p. 109
Colgate 1893-94, p. 22
Oregon 1893-94, p. 31
Columbia 1894-95, p. 30
Pittsburgh 1890-91, p. 23
Geo. Washington 1893-94, p. 4 Rochester 1890-91, p. 35
Georgia 1897-98, p. 34
So, Dakota 1892-93, p. 20
Goucher 1899-1900, p. 67
So. California 1899-1900,
Harvard 1897-98, p. 329
Vermont 1893-94, p. 31
Heidelberg 1892-93, p. 39
U. of Washington 1897-98,
Hobart 1898-99, p. 37
West Virginia 1898-99, p.
Idaho 1898-99, p. 47
p. 31
p.
79
68
How effective these were depended, no doubt, upon the indi­
vidual skill and scholarship of the instructor.
The theory
underlying their organization was probably the same as that
underlying the survey course in English literature— the "Beo­
wulf to Thomas Hardy" type: they were orientation courses,
designed to give the student a little knowledge of all periods
of English and American literature and a bird's-eye view of
the historical development of the literary scene,
prerequi­
site to more advanced courses, both in English and American
Two textbooks are frequently mentioned in college cata­
logues in this and the next decade: J. Hawthorne and
L, Lemmon, American Literature (Boston: D. C. Heath
Company, 1892. xTv / 323 pages) and Henry S. Pan­
coast, An Introduction to American Literature (New
York: Henry Holt & Company, 1898. xiii / 393 pages).
162
literature, these surveys were expected to clear the ground
for more specialized courses in the subject.
Their introduc­
tion marks a movement from the chronological to the psycho­
logical approach in the college teaching of English.
In a
slightly earlier day the arrangement of English courses
placed Anglo-Saxon in the first year of the curriculum and
proceeded chronologically— though certainly not psychologically--with seniors studying the more modern periods of lit1
erature.
How much social background material found its way
into American literature survey courses was, no doubt, a
matter of the personal alignment of the instructor; it seems
clear that the courses were organized to a great extent
around certain authors, and the biographical flavor thus in­
jected must have carried with it a considerable amount of the
general background of the individual who was being studied as
a producer of literature.
Here and there in this decade, also, a relatively new
type of course was coming Into existence as a variation on
the ordinary historical survey of American literature.
The
usual survey course seems to have been basically aesthetic in
alignment, utilizing from the human scene only the political
or biographical elements of background if, indeed it went so
far afield.
1.
The new type of course, perhaps influenced by the
Aydelotte,
0£.
cit.. p. 192.
163
study of American history, emphasized as background the
social basis and the general milieu of literary production,
spotlighting the "life of the time" as an explanation and
illustration of the literature, and setting forth the pecul­
iarly American aspects of the subject.
It was a n approach to
the type of course that Moses Coit Tyler had in mind when he
wrote his histories and that Vernon Louis Parrington brought
forth at a later date.
The following courses stand out in
this decade before the turn of the century as looking forward
to the social and economic interpretation of literature:
Dickinson College (1898-99) "^he course in
American literature is elective to seniors.
The subject is treated not only from a
literary standpoint, but also as the ex­
ponent of our national life, and endeavor
is made to trace the development of Ameri­
can thought."!
Goucher College (1900) "American Literature.
Survey of the field of 19th century lit­
erature of the United States ....Growth
of culture and of a literary atmosphere
in later years is traced, and the effect
of foreign influence and of native genius
is noted ."2
Union College (1894-95) "American Literature,
studied with reference to the times and
the leading species ..,,"3
University of Kansas (1891-92) "American Lit­
erature.
Phiio'sophy and Criticism."4
1.
2.
3.
4.
Dickinson College, Catalogue 1898-99, p. 48.
Goucher College, Catalogue 1900, p. 67.
Union College, Catalogue 1894-95 (95-96), p. 52.
University of Kansas, Catalogue 1891-92, p. 85.
164
University of Missouri (1899-1900)
11American
Literature"!
(IT) Sectional Development:
(b) Growth of Nationality: (c) Present
Tendencies.
The leading writers in prose
and verse will be considered first as to
their intrinsic worth, and secondly, as
illustrative of national d e v e l o p m e n t 1
College of William & Mary (1890-91)
ican Humorists.^2
"Amer­
Williams College (1890-91) "In course II, open
to Seniors, the history of the United
States during the Revolution and under the
constitution, will be the subject of study:
lectures will be given also upon the in­
fluence of American literature and elo­
quence In the formative epoch of our his­
tory." 3
Theodore Clarke Smith, J. Leland
Miller Professor of American History, Litera­
ture and Eloquence.4
University of Tennessee (1899-1900)
"Literature
in the South as an expression of American life—
from the colonial period to the present." (grad­
uate) 5
And there were others.
(See Minnesota, 1890-91; Northwest
ern 1892-93; Purdue, 1896-97; Western Reserve, 1895-96)
Interest in Contemporary Literature and History
There is evidence, also that contemporary literature
and the modern point of view were not altogether neglected
by colleges and universities during this decade.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Leland
University of Missouri, Catalogue 1899-1900, p. 79.
College of William & Mary, Catalogue 1890-91, p. 35.
Williams College, Catalogue 1890-91, p. 37.
Ibid., p. 10.
University of Tennessee, Catalogue 1899-1900 (1900-01),
p . 56.
165
Stanford University was offering a course in Contemporary
1
Literature in 1892-95; West Virginia offered Contemporary
2
American Writers;
at Ilaverford College the Everett-Athenaeum Lectures for 1893-94 by Dr. R. E. Thompson of the
Philadelphia High School had for a subject Contemporary Amer3
ican Literature;
and the University of Chicago for 1895-96
offered a course, "Modern Fiction of the Realistic School,"
to be given by Oscar Triggs
(the instructor who also gave
4
work in American literature).
Hamilton College catalogues
mention as titles for essay contests the following: "The
Fiction of the New South," "Howell’s Delineation of Social
5
6
Life In New England,"
"Whittier the Poet of Freedom,"
"The
7
Place of Sidney Lanier Among America's Poets,"
"The Humor of
8
Oliver Yifendell Holmes,"
"James Russell Lowell’s American9
isms," "The Ideals of Whitman and Whittier";
in 1893-94 a
course had been offered In Modern Poetry in England and
10
A m erica•
Similarly, Hobart College lists the following sub­
jects for the Cobb Medal Contest: "Longfellow: Poet or Man
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
Leland Stanford University, Catalogue 1892-93, pp. 55-56.
West Virginia University, Catalogue 1899-1900, pp. 73-74.
Haverford College, Catalogue 1894-95, p. 30.
University of Chicago, Catalogue 1894-95, p. 134.
Hamilton College, Catalogue 1889-90, p. 46.
Hamilton College, Catalogue 1892-93, p. 54.
Hamilton College, Catalogue 1894-95, p. 53.
Hamilton College, Catalogue 1895-96, p. 53.
Hamilton College, Catalogue 1897-98, p. 53.
Hamilton College, Catalogue 1893-94, p. 23.
166
1
of Letters,"
"American Literature as an Expression of Amer2
ican Life,"
"The Function of Criticism in American Intel­
lectual Life at the Present Time," "Mr* Howells: His Novels
3
and His Ideals of Fiction,"
"The West in American Litera4
ture: Mark Twain and Bret Harte."
The newly founded University of Idaho had its Current
5
Literature Club as well as a course In American literature,
Vassar listed lectures: "The Southern Mountaineer," John Fox,
6
7
Jr., "The Mississippi Valley," Harry P* Judson,
West Vir­
ginia University, in addition to strong courses in American
8
Literature offered the Armstrong Prize in American Literature.
At Columbia University (1893) a course of lectures
was delivered by Edward Eggleston on "The History of the
9
Civilization of the American People,"
And In 1894 Theodore
Roosevelt delivered the following lectures: "The Backwoods­
men of the 'Western Border and Their Foes," "The West in the
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
Hobart College, Catalogue 1891-92, p. 31.
Hobart College, Catalogue 1892-93, p. 35.
Hobart College, Catalogue 1893-94, p. 34.
Hobart College, Catalogue 1894-95, p. 32.
University of Idaho, Catalogue 1898-99, p. 47.
Vassar College, Catalogue 1895-96, p. 62.
Vassar College, Catalogue 1896-97, p. 62.
West Virginia University, Catalogue 1897-98, p. 32. "A
prize of twenty-five dollars, also the gift of Pro­
fessor Armstrong, will be awarded annually...to the
writer of the best essay on an assigned subject in
American Literature. The subject for the year
,98-,99 will be: 'Nature in American Poetry.' The
subject for the year '99-1900 will be: 'The Genius
and Art of Nathaniel Hawthorne.'"
Annual Report of the President of Columbia College, 1893,
p. 116.
167
American Revolution ,’1 "The Foundation of the Trans-Allegheny
Commonwealths,"
"The Indian Wars,” "The Conquest of the Illi­
nois," "The West at the Close of the American Revolution."
Side Lights
Comments on the teaching of American literature dur­
ing this period at two institutions are furnished by the
Presidents' Reports at Tufts College and Brown University.
In 1893 Professor ’Walter Bronson reported at Brown:
The course in American literature, so far
as I know, was the first ever offered at
Brown in that subject. The result has fully
justified the experiment. The course was
elected by a class of high literary ability,
who did excellent work. It gives me pleasure
to report that the two young women visitors
taking the course stood among the foremost
in industry and ability .2
The Report for 1898° shows 53 students at the inception of
the course and
68
at the close.
In 1897 Lorenzo Sears, the
Associate Professor of American Literature, reports as fol­
lows :
The number of students taking a course in
American Literature has doubled again during
the year, as it did last year. It has also
increased thirty-three per cent, over that
of the year previous.
The year closes with
1.
2.
3.
Annual Report of the President of Columbia College,
1894, p. 36.
Brown University, Annual Report of the -'resident,
June 29, 1893, p. 75.
Brown University, Annual Report of the President,
June 16, 1898, p. 55.
I
168
a class of sixty, and ten others have
been members in other terms. Two thirds
of all have been Seniors, the rest Juniors
and special students. Several Sophomores
applying for admission have been asked to
defer the study until next year on account
of the size of the class.
A corresponding extension has been made in
the scope of the course, especially in the
direction of poetry and fiction during the
third term in order to make it a fourth
without repetition.
Great fidelity to work
outside of the classroom has been indicated
by written appreciations and impressions of
authors read, giving in some instances,
promise of considerable literary taste and
critical acumen.
It has been attempted to
give direction to both of these by outlines
of criticism, by lectures upon it, as well
as upon different forms of literature and
our American writers. The most eminent of
these have been read in class, with questions
asked and comments made upon them.
One of the gratifying features attending the
course is the frequent declaration by students,
having in it the element of glad surprise,
that they have discovered in their own country
a literature, deserving their study, and u n ­
excelled in some of its departments by that of
any other nation .1
The following comment is contained in the President's
Report at Tufts:
For the first time, also, the study of Ameri­
can Literature was continued throughout the
year, three hours a week.
The literature of
our own country is by no means so generally
studied as its interest deserves, and in the
belief that, whatever else he does not know,
an American should at least be familiar with
the development of the literature of his own
1
.
Brown University, Annual Report of the President,
June 17, 1897, p. 37.
169
land, it is proposed that this subject
shall be presented every year, and be
made to follow immediately the general
view of the literature of England.
Twenty-six students completed this sub­
ject, which involved much reading, occa­
sional special reports, the memorizing
of selected passages, and the prepara­
tion of three original essays.J-
2
The Report for 1896-97
shows 34 students electing the course
in American literature as against the following: Survey of
English Literature, 43; Shakespeare, 14; Anglo-Saxon, 2; the
Romantic Movement, 11.
Institutional Inclusion
Between 1890 and 1900, the following Institutions
of the
121
(38
examined) offered in their announcements definite
and considerable courses in the field of American literature:
Alabama
Antioch
Arkansas
Brown
Bucknell
Chicago
Colby
Colgate
Columbia
Dartmouth
George Washington
Harvard
Heidelberg
Indiana
Kansas
1.
2.
Mississippi
Missouri
Northwestern
Ohio State
Oregon
Pennsylvania State
Princeton
Tennes see
Tufts
Union
Vanderbilt
Vermont
Virginia
University of Washington
Wellesley
Tufts College, Annual Report of the President, 1895-96,
p. 36.
Tufts College, Annual Report of the President, 1896-97,
pp. 40-41.
170
West Virginia
Western Reserve
Wisconsin
Yale
Leland Stanford
Michigan
Middlebury
Minnesota
At the beginning of the decade (1890-91), 26 colleges
offered separate courses in American literaturej in 1899-1900,
57 were offering such courses.
Separate Courses in American Literature, 1890-91
Antioch
California
Colorado (1 yr. only)
Dartmouth
Franklin & Marshall
George Washington
Hamilton
Indiana
Kansas
Michigan
Middlebury
Mississippi
M t . Holyoke
Nebraska
Northwestern
Oberlln
Ohio State
Pittsburgh
Rochester
Smith
Southern California
Trinity
Wellesley
William & Mary
Williams
Wisconsin
Separate Courses in American Literature t 1899-1900
Antioch
Arkansas
Baylor
Bowdoin
Brown
Bucknell
California
Chicago
Colby
Colgate
Colorado (1 yr. only)
Columbia
Cornell
Dartmouth
Delaware
Dickinson
Drury
George Washington
Georgetown
Georgia
Goucher
Harvard
Heidelberg
Hobart
Idaho
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Leland Stanford
Maryla nd
Michigan
Middlebury
Missouri
New Hampshire
North Dakota
Northwestern
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State
Princeton
Rochester
Smith
South Dakota
Southern California
Tennessee
Texas
Tufts
Union
Vanderbilt
Vermont
Virginia
Wellesley
West Virginia
Western Reserve
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Yale
171
At the following institutions, courses were begun late in the
decade and continued on into the next period, thus marking
the inception of a definitely American tradition in their
curricula: Bowdoin ( 1 8 9 8 - 9 9 ) California (1899-1900),^
3
4
Cornell (1899-1900), Delaware (1897-98), Dickinson (18985
6
7
99), Drury (1898-99),
Goucher (1899-1900),
Hobart (18988
9
10
99), Idaho (1898-99),
Iowa (1897-98),
Maryland (189911
12
1900),
North Dakota (1899-1900),
Southern California (1899N 13
1900),
Texas
,
X 14
(1899-1900),
Wyoming
/
V 15
(1897-98).
Causes of Increasing Interest
The acceleration thus notable toward the end of the
decade and the turn of the century augured well for the suc­
cess of American literature as a college subject.
Its causes
may be attributed immediately, perhaps, to the founding of
new institutions, and more remotely to the general change of
1. Bowdoin College, Catalogue 1898-99, p. 35.
2. University of California, Catalogue 1899-1900, p. 174.
3. Cornell University, Catalogue 1899-1900, p. 107.
4. University of Delaware, Catalogue 1896-97 (97-98), p. 32.
5. Dickinson College, Catalogue 1898-99, p. 48.
6 . Drury University, Catalogue 1898-99, p. 47.
7. Goucher College, Catalogue 1900, p. 67.
8 . Hobart College, Catalogue 1898-99, p. 37
9. University of Idaho, Catalogue 1898-99, p. 47.
10.
University of Iowa, Catalogue 1896-97 (97-98), po. 42,
43.
11. University of Maryland, Catalogue 1899-1900, p. 19.
12. University of North Dakota, Catalogue 1898-99 (99-1900),
pp. 47-40.
13.
University of Southern California, Catalogue 1899-1900, p. 31.
14.
University of Texas, Catalogue 1899-1900, p-. 54.
15. University of Wyoming, Catalogue 1896-97 (97-98), pp. 83-84.
172
tempo in national thought, which has before been noted (See
Page 56), in the years immediately following a national vic1
tory at a r m s .
Expansion of English Departments
In general, the influences underlying the increase in
the teaching of American literature during the decade 18901900 are the same as those producing at large the great ex­
pansion in the teaching of English literature during the same
time.
English composition and literature, by 1900, had passed
from meager beginnings as a part cotirse given in an odd hour
by the history or philosophy professor to the status of a ma2
jor subject.
As departments expanded there was more room
for special courses, and among these American Literature
found a place— not a very large or influential place, but at
least an academic "habitation and a name."
haps, the broad, permissive influence.
This was, per­
There seem also to
have been more direct influences in its favor.
Demands of Secondary Schools
The Increasing enrollment in the secondary and ele-
1.
2
.
Cf. Fred B. Millett, Contemporary American Authors, p. 181.
There is no evidence that the Influence of Frederick
Jackson Turner was felt at this time.
See Harry
Woodburn Chase (Chancellor of New York University) ,
Address to New York Schoolmasters' Club, 9 November 1940.
Cf. William Morton Payne, English in American Universities
(1895); Charles F. Thwing, A HTstory of~Higher Educa-~
tion in America (1906), p. "$42; Pattee, o£. cit., p. 205.
173
mentary schools caused a demand for teachers; and the liber­
al arts colleges (having in their time served as professional
1
schools in theology, lav/, and medicine)
now turned to the
preparation of teachers.
One of the subjects most strongly
emphasized in these elementary and secondary schools which were
2
to employ the college graduate was American literature.
From
the 1840’s the public schools— in one connection or another—
had given considerable attention to American literary materi­
al, and by the late 1890*s and earlv 1900's the subject was
3
academically de rigeur.
The result was presumably a demand
by prospective teachers (and the schools interested in em­
ploying them) for training in American literature; the col­
lege offerings in American literature in the last decade of
the century reflect this demand.
Again, the increasing enrollment in the universities
and the resulting needs in personnel may have caused the hir­
ing of teachers whose careers had been in the secondary
schools and who, consequently, and been in close touch with
the American literature tradition and brought it with them
into the college curriculum.
1.
2.
3.
R. Freeman Butts, The College Charts Its Course, pp. 368369; 372.
See Mae J. Evans, How Much Work Is Done in American Lit­
erature in the High Schools and by What Methods?
School Review, Vol. 11 (October, 1903), pp. 647-654.
See Brander Matthews, Suggestions for Teachers of Ameri­
can Literature, Educational Review, Vol. 21 (January,
1901), pp. 11-16.
174
Literature of the Period: 1890-1900
The literature of the period reflected its numerous
facets and provided enrichment of the field for college
study.
Reformers were discovering the possibilities of fic­
tion as a weapon.
The picturesque frontiers of life— the
sea, the wild Test, Alaska, the mountains— were receiving
their acclaim from American authorsj the colorful phases of
American history were being utilized by the romantic novel1
ists;
and partly from native growth and partly from overseas
2
the new realism was gaining a hold' — a movement demanding that
the author look squarely at his scene and present what he saw.
American authors began to look homeward.
And if what they saw
did not altogether please them, it made all the livelier read­
ing for that reason.
The colleges were not quick to take advantage of
these opportunities, and the younger literary men fled from
3
their precincts with cries of disgust and ennui.
Soon the
question was to be asked: "that are the colleges doing for
American literature?" and the way was prepared for new things.
1.
2.
3.
Samuel Eliot Lorison and Henry Steele Commager, The
Growth of the American Kepublic, Vol. 2, p. 287.
James Truslow Adams, The Epic of America, pp. 326-327.
Harold U. Faulkner, American Political and Social History,
p. 583.
Vvilliam Peterfield Trent, The Teaching of English Litera­
ture, Sewanee Review, Vol. 12 (October, 1904),
pp. 401-419.
Ivlorison and Commager, op. cit., pp. 283, 285.
See Upton Sinclair, The loose Step; Pattee, op. cit.,
p. 198.
175
Between 1890 and 1900, also, the colleges were being
relieved of the embarrassment involved in dealing with the
works of living authors; great American literary men were dy­
ing in these years.
Their deaths served at once to remind
college professors and students of what they had written and
that they were no longer susceptible to praise or blame— that
they were, in fact, ripe for scholarly examination and judg­
ment.
Bryant (d. 1878), Lanier (d. 1881), Whittier (d. 1882),
Emerson (d. 1882), Longfellow (d. 1882), Lowell (d. 1891),
Whitman (d. 1892), for example, were suitable "classic" for
college courses by 1900.
Need of Tradition
Another influence which may have operated in favor of
the teaching of American literature was the growing feeling
of the need of a national tradition and the idea that the
study of American literature was a means of inculcating pa­
triotism and good citizenship— a commodity much in demand u n ­
der the pressure of rising immigration, Southern resentment,
and urban labor difficulties.
Lack of College Trained Authors
Another force which might have been expected to have
stimulated the cause of American literature as a college sub­
ject was the growing concern about the fact that college grad­
uates were not heavily represented among the new generation of
176
American literary men.
Eliot of Harvard had commented on
the ohenomenon, and R. W. Gilder in addresses at Wells Col1
lege and Wesleyan University alluded to the disturbing fact.
In the course of this welter of complaint and criti­
cism it may have occurred to a few readers
(though the authors
of these jeremiads do not generally point it out) that a cure
for the malady might lie in part in bringing to the attention
of college students the work that had already been done in
literature by their countrymen on their own soil.
Comments; hewton Marshall Hall
A symptom of the state of the teaching of American
literature during this period is the general absence of arti­
cles in periodicals which might have been expected to deal
with the subject.
Comments on the teaching of English litera­
ture are not infrequent; but it is not until after 1918 that
articles on the teaching of American literature are to be en­
countered.
The one article discovered for the decade 1890-
1900 deserves mention.
Newton Marshall Hall of Iowa College
writing in 1892 had the following comments to offer:
American literature is already taught in a
few colleges. Should it be admitted at all?
Ten years ago [1882], a demand so ambitious
would have met a decided rebuff.
The students
of Harvard, and possibly their instructors,
1.
R. V/. Gilder, The Colleges and American Literature, The
Critic, Vol. 11 (July 2, 1887), p. 1 (n.s., Vol.~ 8T.
177
would have smiled at Idea of actually study­
ing the verse and essays of former professors
of the University.
The citizen of Essex
County would have said that he could not af­
ford to send his son to college to study the
poetry of Mr. Whittier, however much he might
esteem his neighbor as a man. Even now, we
must admit that our genuine literature is not
a century old; its first adequate history has
been published only three years; the first
text-books upon the subject, elementary in
scope, and bearing the marks of haste in prep­
aration, have the imprint of 1891. Notwith­
standing these obvious limitations and disad­
vantages, there are strong reasons why our
literature should receive full recognition as
a study in American colleges. Our first great
literary period is at an end. The clouds which
obscure the vision in a time of formative action
are clearing, and we are gaining the perspective
which is necessary to a judgment of motives and
results. We may expect in our colleges, as a
basis of study, a criticism scholarly and accu­
rate, free from personality and prejudice .1
Professor Hall cites the following reasons for the in­
clusion of the subject (an interesting mixture of the aesthetic
and sociological point of view):
1. Because it possesses the quality of univer­
sality, which is the final test of all litera­
ture .
2.
Because it is a national literature.
(1)
The service of American literature to
democracy. They will find this pure ideal most
fitly and serenely expressed not in the speeches
of our statesmen, nor in the records of our
battles, but in the pages of our literature.
1.
Newton Marshall Hall, The Study of American Literature in
Colleges, The Andover Review: A Religious and Theo­
logical Monthly, Vol. "18 (July-December, 1892), pp. 154162.
178
(2)
The portrayal of American life and
character in fiction. Which is likely to live
longer, "The Scarlet Letter,” or Hutchinson’s
"Historv of the Province of Massachusetts
Bay" ?
3. Because it possesses and is able to impart
the informing spirit....Great Pan is dead, we
have heard with sufficient iteration.
The time
demands a larger representation of life and
movement than was possible to the classic poet­
ry.
Poetry lags behind the age.
The new sci­
ence, the new sociology, the broader movements
in every department of thought, wait for the e x ­
pression of the latent beauty within them....
We are just now at the ebb which follows every
great movement in literature. When the tide of
the next great period comes in, it will rise to
higher levels, it will be broader and more free,
but its impetus will come from the immediate
past. Much is to be gained by college study of
the classics, but the young men and women who
are to write our literature in the next genera­
tion will not find the inspiration and material
for their work in the "Tale of T r oy"....With
the exception of a few great names perennially
bright, we may as well admit also that the lifegiving principle has gone out of a great deal of
the so-called "classic" English literature of
the early periods.
4. Because it is a power for culture....More
than anything else, it has availed to dispel
the intolerable national egoism and provincial­
ism of earlier days.l
Professor Hall closes with the familiar praise of the
"pure moral tone" of our literature.
It is annoying to be obliged to place so many
dangerous signs over moral quagmires, along
the paths which young people must tread in the
1.
Hall, o£. cit. , pp. 155, 156, 157, 158, 159-162
179
older literature....With a single exception
[alas, poor Poe!], the lives of our great
men of letters have been blameless and selfbalanced. . .1
Though the general philosophy behind Hall's defense
of the subject is basically of the moral-aesthetic motif, his
recognition of social change and of its possible effect on
literature is forward-looking.
Greenough W h i t e :
g
Sketch of the Philosophy of American Literature
In 1891, Greenough White, a recent Master of Arts
from Harvard published his Sketch of the Philosophy of Ameri­
can Literature t a work of considerable interest by reason of
the point of view which it expresses and the thesis it sets
for th •
White asserts definitely that American literature is
distinct and separate from British literature and, further­
more, that it, always w a s .
He puts forth a plausible and in­
genious reason for seeming imitation in the early days:
"...the advance of thought in America has been, historically,
about one generation behind each corresponding advance in
England, and thus appears merely imitative to the superficial
3
observor."
The general alignment of White's Sketch is historical
1.
2.
3.
Hall, ojo. c i t ., p. 131.
Boston: Ginn & Company, 1891.
Pp. iii-iv.
iv /
66
pages.
180
and philosophical; it represents something of the spirit
that prevailed in Knapp's Lectures on American Literature
(See Page 23) and, in a much more impressive form, in the
histories of Moses Coit Tyler.
White's basic approach, the
tracing of the parallel tracks of the nation's thought and
its literature, looked forward toward Main Currents in Ameri­
can Thought and the social historians.
'White's assertion
that new literary forms and techniques arise out of new phil­
osophical needs as conditioned by environment fits the pat­
terns of the Farrington school.
As professor of English language and literature at
the University of the South, White taught American literature
1
(1885-1887).
His book was influential enough to attract the
2
favorable attention of E. C. Stedman.
11Is
There An American Lit era ture?"
(1896)
The titles of various textbooks in American litera­
ture which began to appear in the late 'eighties and early
'nineties were made the pretext for a paper war over the
question of whether American literature existed except as a
phase of British literature.
In 1889 Felix Schelling commented in Poet Lore rather
sourly on the use of the term "American literature."
1.
2.
Fred
Pattee, ojs. cit., p. 216.
National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. XI,
p. 271.
181
Lewis Patteefs "Is There An American Literature?" appeared
in the Dial (Chicago) in 1896, provoking an editorial of
"angry refutation"
in the New York Times and a good many
1
hostile letters.
It was really not a new argument at all, and it seems
to have been conducted with more heat than wit, but no doubt
It helped to focus attention upon the whole subject of Ameri­
can literature.
Certainly, there seems to have been no gen­
eral diminishment in the teaching of American literature at
this time.
In a sense, the whole question (significant as it
sounds) made very little difference; Schelling, in spite of
his quibble over the term, did not hinder the development of
the subject at the University of Pennsylvania (See Page 143) .
Barrett Wendell, never admitting the existence of a definitely
American literature (See Page 154 ) , did a great deal to ex­
tend its influence on the college level.
His textbook (1900)
was suavely entitled A Literary History of America.
New Personnel
A new type of professor was taking his place on col­
lege faculties during this decade.
As the reverend gentleman
whose chief qualifications for the teaching of English were
training in Greek, Latin, and Theology had been supplemented
(and finally superseded) by the German trained linguistic
1.
Pattee, op. c i t ., pp. 213-214.
182
scholar, so the latter was heing supplemented on faculties
during this time by the literary scholar and gentleman.
At
Harvard, the extraordinarv Barrett Wendell began his work in
1
American literature in 1898.
Brander Matthews began his
2
long career of inspiring service at Columbia in 1891.
At
Yale, William Lyons Phelps became a member of the faculty in
3
1892.
At Pennsylvania State College, Fred Lewis Pattee was
4
beginning work in 1894.
And in the Southwest, at the Uni­
versity of Oklahoma, Vernon Louis Parrington began his teach5
ing career— not in the field of American literature— in 1899.
In the years 1890-1900 the modern American university, with
the modern faculty, was beginning to take formj and in its
formation, the study of American literature found a small
though definite place.
Summary
Thus the decade 1890-1900 saw work in American litera­
ture in colleges and universities increase to a point where
its tenure became certain, though limited in extent,
sepa­
rate courses of the survey type, occasionally stressing social
backgrounds, were usual.
1.
2.
4.
5.
Dictionary of American Biography. Vol. XIX, p. 650.
I b i d ., Vol. XII, p. 415.
W h o 1s Who in America 1940-1941, p. 2058.
Pennsylvania State College, Catalogue 1894-95, p. 4.
University of Oklahoma, Catalogue 1898-99 (99-1900),
p. 5. "Professor of English and Modern Languages."
183
The development of the subject was somewhat hindered
by departmental preoccupation with linguistics and aesthetic
standards which limited inclusion of American materials; as
this attitude declined, the study of American literature in­
creased.
Influences favoring the subject were probably the ex­
pansion of college curricula, the demands of secondary
schools, the sense of need of a national tradition, and in­
creasing interest in the American scene.
Work in American Literature: 1900-1910
The decade 1900-1910 shows a general extension of the
study of American literature among the universities of the
United States.
Against the 35 institutions carrying on work
in American literature as a separate subject between 1890
and 1900, there may be ranged 80 which between 1900 and 1910
devoted at least a half course to the field as a separate
and distinct subject.
The following institutions* offered
separate courses between 1900 and 1910.
Amherst
Antioch
Arkansas
Barnard
Bates
Howard College
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State
Pittsburgh
Rochester
Criterion: Separate and distinct course in American liter­
ature, given at least three years; exception— continu­
ing course given last two years of decade.
184
Baylor
Boston
Bowdoin
Brown
Bucknell
California
Chicago
Cincinnati
Columbia
Cornell
Dartmouth
DePauw
Dickinson
Duke
Franklin & Marshall
George Washington
Georgetown
Georgia
Goucher
Harvard
Haverford
Heidelberg
Hobart
Johns Hopkins
Kansas
Kentucky
Leland Stanford
Maine
Maryland
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Mt. Holyoke
Nebraska
New Hampshire
New Mexico
New York Univ.
North Carolina
North Dakota
Northwestern
Oberlin
Ohio University
Ohio State Univ.
Oklahoma
Rutgers
Smith
Univ. of the South
South Dakota
Southern California
Swarthmore
Syracuse
Temple
Texas
Trinity
Tufts
Vassar
Vermont
Virginia
Univ. of Washington
Washington Univ.
Wellesley
Wesleyan
West Virginia
Western Reserve
Williams
Wisconsin
Yale
Institutions Moving Forward
Of the institutions which had given considerable at­
tention to American literature in the decade 1890-1900, the
following 26 carried forward or increased their offerings:
Arkansas, Brown, Bucknell, Chicago, Columbia, Dartmouth,
George Washington, Harvard, Heidelberg, Indiana, Kansas,
Leland Stanford, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Northwestern,
Oregon, Pennsylvania State, Tufts, Vermont, Virginia, Univer­
sity of Washington, Wellesley, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Yale.
Diminishments
At 9 of the 35 Institutions favoring American litera­
ture during the period 1890-1900, the subject seems to have
185
been dropped during all or part of the next decade.
At
Antioch, American literature disappears from 1903 through
1
1907 but is revived in 1908.
At Colby, the subject vanishes
2
in 1901 not to reappear until 1912.
At Colgate, probably
under the pressure of linguistics, American literature dis3
appears from 1900 until 1910.
Middlebury retained work in
the subject during the decade 1900-1910, but only in the
form of assigned outside reading.
Princeton dropped the sub­
ject in 1904, and in 1938-39 it had not yet regained an im­
portant place in the curriculum there.
(See Chapter V)
At
Minnesota, American literature vanishes from 1900 until
4
1907, probably as a result of interest in linguistics; F.
Klaeber, an eminent philologist dominated the English depart­
ment during this period.
be announced in 1900.
At Tennessee, the subject ceases to
At Vanderbilt American literature is
announced onlv in combination with English literature after
5
1900.
At Union, in 1903 (the year in which Edward Everett
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Antioch College, Catalogue 1908-09, p. 18.
Colby College, Catalogue 1912-13, p. 60.
Colgate University, Catalogue 1909, p. 39. "In 1910,
American Literature, with special consideration of
Emerson and Hawthorne."
University of Minnesota, Catalogue 1806-07 (07-08), p. 85
(Cf. Catalogue 1898-99: Heavy linguistics).
University of Tennessee, Catalogue 1900-01 (01-02). This
situation may have been the result of the departure of
James Bell Henneman to the faculty of the University
of the South and editorship of the Sewanee Review.
(See The S_outh in the Building of the Nation, Vol. 12,
p. 477)
186
1
Hale, Jr. became professor of English there)
American lit­
erature disappears from the announcement.
Influential Instructors
At this stage of its growth, as earlier, American
literature depended for its franchise upon the interest and
prestige of individual professors.
At Brown, Walter Bronson
and his successor Lorenzo Sears succeeded in gaining suffi­
cient attention for the subject so that it has never since
been slighted.
At Michigan, Isaac Demmon retained the sub­
ject in a position of some dignity.
At West Virginia, R. A.
Armstrong partly as a teacher and partly through the Arm­
strong Prize in American literature maintained the subject in
force.
During this decade, in 1905, Percy Holmes Boynton
2
came to Chicago as instructor of English, beginning one of
the strongest lines of development in the teaching of Ameri­
can literature that has existed in the United States.
At
Dartmouth, Charles Francis Richardson carried forward the
3
work in the field which he had begun in 1883.
At Columbia,
Brander Matthews pushed forward with the work begun in 1895.
1
.
2*
3.
Union College, Catalogue 1903-04, p. 16. In this year
there appears to have been a reduction of the work of­
fered in the department.
(Cf. Catalogue 1902-03, pp.
51-53 and Catalogue 1903-04, p. 7 3 )
W h o 1s Who in America 1940-1941, p. 389.
See Dartmouth College, Catalogues 1900-1910. Catalogue
1911-12, p. 32. Charles Francis Richardson, professor
emeritus.
187
Barrett Wendell was joined at Harvard in teaching American
1
literature during this decade by Chester Noyes Greenough—
2
perhaps its strongest advocate there until K. Murdock.
At
Yale, Henry Augustin Beers was offering courses in the
3
field.
And in 1906, Johns Hopkins, "that stronghold and
sanctuary of philological orthodoxy and conservatism"
yielded; John C. French (now— 1941— Librarian of the Univer4
sity) began a course in American literature, under the in­
fluence of Barrett Wendell of Harvard.
2.
3.
4.
W h o 's Who in America 1940-1941, p. 1013.
Letter: Kenneth 8 . Murdock (Professor of English, H ar­
vard University) 21 August 1939. "I have been very
much interested in the development of the study of
American Literature at Harvard over the past twenty
years.
I think the man most responsible for the
real start of it was the late Professor C. N.
Greenough, who for a while in connection with
Barrett Wendell, and later by himself, taught it
with great enthusiasm."
Yale University, Catalogue 1903-04, p. 97.
Johns Hopkins University, Programme of Courses, 1906-07,
p. 39, "4. American Literature. Literary history
in outline; critical study of selected authors;
written reports on assigned reading.” (One of six
courses in literature.)
Report of the President of Johns Hopkins University,
1907, p. 46, "An elective course in American Litera­
ture (English Literature 4) was given, two hours a
week, throughout the year, by Dr. French. Bronson's
American Literature, Page's The Chief American Poets,
and Weberns Southern Poets were used as textbooks.
In a series of short papers the members of the class
presented the results of their reading of assigned
selections from various American authors."
Letter: John C. French (Librarian, Johns Hopkins Univer­
sity), 30 June 1939. "...I am inclined to believe
Dr. Herbert H. Greene, whose elective course at
Hopkins in English literature turned me toward grad­
uate work in English, pointed out the neglect of
188
Leading Institutions
Inspection of announcements reveals that the follow­
ing institutions were leaders in the field during this decade
(1900-1910) on the scores of consistency or extent of offer­
ings: Brown, California, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Dart­
mouth, Heidelberg, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Oregon,
Pennsylvania State, South Dakota, Virginia, 'West Virginia,
Wisconsin.
Courses in American Literature
There is no impressive increase in diversity of types
of courses in American literature between 1900 and 1910.
For
the most part, the general extension in the teaching of Ame r­
ican literature took the form of introductions in institutions
heretofore neglecting the subject, and the courses thus in­
troduced were usually imitations of the broad survey courses
being given in the colleges and universities already active
In the field.
Among such introductions, the survey course--
usually based on a single textbook— and the "authors" courses
predominate.
This situation may be noted during this decade
American literature as something that ought to be
remedied... .When the chance came to teach the subject
at Hopkins I was delighted with the response on the
part of students; and I am gratified to see that the
courses which I instituted in it in the College for
Teachers and In the Summer Session continue to have
large enrollments. They were at first carried on by
men who did graduate work under me but have now passed
to still younger men."
189
1
for example at the following institutions: Boston University,
2
3
4
5
6
Barnard,
Cincinnati, Duke, Florida, Haverford,
Johns
7
8
9
10
Hopkins,
Louisiana State, Maine, Montana State,
North
11
12
13
14
Carolina,
North Dakota,
Notre Dame,
Richmond,
Swarth15
16
17
18
19
more,
Texas,
Tulane,
Utah,
Williams.
Combination Courses
The mixed "English and American Literature” course
was still in evidence, though diminishing.
The following in­
stitutions offer American literature onlv in such combination
20
21
during this decade: Arizona, Georgia,
Johns Hopkins (one
1.
2.
Boston University, Catalogue 1901, p. 51.
Barnard College, Catalogue (Columbia University)
1900-01, p. 118.
3. University of Cincinnati, Catalogue 1904-05, p. 51.
4. Duke University, Catalogue 1900-01, p. 54.
5. University of Florida, Catalogue 1902-03 (03-04), p. 45.
6 . Haverford College, Catalogue 1900-01, p. 9.
7. Johns Hopkins University, Programme of Studies 1906-07,
p. 39.
8 . Louisiana State University, Catalogue 1908-09 (09-10),
p. 142.
9. University of Maine, Catalogue 1904-05, p. 74.
10. Montana State University, Catalogue 1900-01 (01-02),
p . 38 .
11. University of North Carolina, Catalogue 1908-09, p. 49.
12. University of North Dakota, Catalogue 1905-06 (06-07),
p. 70.
13. University of Notre Dame, Catalogue 1902-03, p. 42.
14. University of Richmond, Catalogue 1908-09 (09-10),
pp. 37-38.
15. Swarthmore College, Catalogue 1905-06, p. 8 8 .
16. University of Texas, Catalogue 1903-04, p. 71.
17. Tulane University, Catalogue 1908-09, p. 84.
18. University of Utah, Catalogue 1908-09, p. 121.
19. Williams College, Catalogue 1903-04, p. 43.
20. University of Arizona, Register 1905-06 (06-07), p. 51.
2 1 . University of Georgia, Catalogue 1907-08 (08-09), p. 73.
190
1
2
year only 1905-06), New Mexico,
College of the City of
3
4
5
New York, North Carolina, St. John's College,
St.
6
7
8
Lawrence, Tulane, Vanderbilt.
At Vanderbilt, this com­
bination followed work in American literature as a separate
9
course, but in all the other institutions the combination
course was a precursor of distinct work in the subject.
A
comparison in aggregate with the number of institutions of­
fering American literature in this combination during the
decade 1890-1900 shows at once that the mixed course was on
the decline.
Perhaps typical of the transition from the combina­
tion English and American literature course was the develop­
ment at Mew York University during this period--a development
which was the beginning of expansion in the field w hich was
to make the institution preeminent in the teaching of Ameri­
can literature.
(See Chapter V)
As early as 1896-97 P. H. Stoddard had included Ameri10
can literature in his combination course.
In 1906-07 the
1.
2.
Johns Hopkins University, Register 1905-06, p. 156.
University of New Mexico, Catalogue 1902-03 (03-04),
p . 76.
3. College of the City of New York, Register 1907-08, p. 38.
4. University of North Carolina, Catalogue 1907-08, p. 38.
5. St. John's College, Catalogue 1907-08 (08-09), p. 42.
6 . St. Lawrence University, Catalogue 1900-01, p. 37.
7. Tulane University, Catalogue 1901-02, p. 43.
8 . Vanderbilt University, Register 1899-1900 (1900-01), p.
43.
9. Vanderbilt University, Register 1894-95 (95-96), p. 40.
10. New York University, Catalogue 1895-96 (96-97), p. 89.
191
American literature component was handed over to Arthur H.
Nason who was instructed to expand it into a survey course
with special emphasis on the seventeenth and eighteenth cen­
turies.
This was the first separate course in American lit­
erature offered at New York University.
It was later divided
into American Prose and American Poetry, strongly related to
historical backgrounds.
Still later it was offered in chron­
ological division and taught partly as a course in belles
lettres per se and partly as a view of the development of
1
American thought.
The combination of American literature with rhetoric
and oratory continued, though with reduced popularity among
institutions.
Arizona,
P
S
Arkansas,
Delaware,
4
Middlebury,
5
Pittsburgh,® South Carolina,^ South Dakota,® Washington &
Jefferson,^ D e P a u w , ^ Franklin & M a r s h a l l S t .
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
.
7.
8.
9.
6
10.
11.
12.
Lawrence,^
Information furnished by Professor Arthur H. Nason.
(See
also Washington Square College, Announcement 1906-07,
p. 389; 1918-19, p. 280)
University of Arizona, Register 1905-06 (06-07), p. 51.
University of Arkansas, Catalogue 1899-1900, p. 6 8 .
University of Delaware, Catalogue 1899-1900 (1900-01),
p. 38.
Middlebury College, Catalogue 1902-03, p. 50.
University of Pittsburgh, Catalogue 1904-05, p. 80.
University of South Carolina, Catalogue 1900-01, p. 35.
University of South Dakota, Catalogue 1900-01, p. 32.
Washington & Jefferson College, Catalogue, 1900-01,
p . 51.
DePauw University, Catalogue 1901-02, p. 49.
Franklin & Marshall College, Catalogue 1902-03, p. 25.
St. Lawrence University, Catalogue 1900-01, p. 37.
192
Swarthmore,! and the University of Washington® all offered
American literature thus combined at some period during the
decade*
With the 20 institutions thus combining American
literature between 1890 and 1900, there may be compared the
13 above, revealing a considerable decline in the prevalence
of this type of course.
Survey Courses:
Interest In Background
There were, also, signs that the modes in the unadul­
terated American literature courses were changing.
Only 3
institutions had ventured Into the field of "contemporary"
literature during the decade 1890-1900; now these were joined
by 4 more: Tulane,^ Nebraska,^ Pennsylvania State,^ and
6
Rochester.
The recognition of the influence of the social and
political backgrounds upon literature also was on the in­
crease.
There is evidence that the survey course "about au­
thors and books" and based rigidly and barrenly upon a single
textbook was giving way to a survey course which still fol­
lowed a textbook in a general way but which included reading
of the literature itself and required consideration of the
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Swarthmore College, Catalogue 1899-1900, p. 41.
University of Washington, Catalogue 1902-03 (03-04),
p. 123.
Tulane University, Catalogue 1901-02 (02-03), p. 43.
University of Nebraska, Catalogue 1906-07 (07-08), p. 170.
Pennsylvania State College, Catalogue 1908-09, p. 186.
University of Rochester, Catalogue 1909-10, p. 89.
193
environmental factor.^- The emphasis of such courses would In­
cline to be slightly less upon the aesthetic and slightly
more upon the background and social significance of litera­
ture.
In the development of the study and "explanation" of
American literature, the first step seems to have been to re­
fer to the personalities producing it (with a consequent
catalogue emphasis upon "authors"); the next step was to at­
tempt to explain the authors in terms of their environment—
which probably brought forth finally the "social," historical
courses.
The following institutions and courses may be cited
as evidence of a growing sense of backgrounds;
Brown University "American literature from the
beginning in its relation to American life
University of Georgia American Literature. "Gen­
eral survey from earliest times (a) sectional
development, (b) growth of nationality, (c)
present tendencies..." 3
Wellesley College "The course will follow the
history of American literature and will study
in detail some representative authors of the
National era. Effort will be made to inter­
pret the American character and to indicate
its ideals."4
Mount Holyoke College A literary study is made
1
.
.
3.
2
4.
See University of Georgia, Catalogue 1907-08 (08-09),
p. 73.
Brown University, Catalogue 1904-05, p. 85.
University of Georgia, Catalogue 1905-06 (06-07),
pp. 50-51.
Wellesley College, Catalogue 1904-05, p. 70.
194
of the three centuries of American life....^
University of Nebraska American Literature—
"Its relation to the national life and
thought ."^
University of North Carolina American Litera­
ture. ''The growth of American literature is
studied in connection with the growth and de­
velopment of the nation ...."3
Temple University American Literature. "The
representative authors.
Special attention is
paid to the literary development and modifica­
tion, in a new environment, of old-world im­
pulses .... "4
University of Washington American Literature.
"A study of the literary production of America
from the settlement of the colonies to the
rise of the New England School, emphasis be­
ing laid upon the revolutionary writers, upon
the beginnings of nineteenth century letters,
and upon the Knickerbocker School." (First
semester)
American Literature. "A study of the New
England and Southern Schools, and of later
movements in American letters, special con­
sideration being given to the relation b e ­
tween contemporary English and American lit­
erary development." 5
Yale University New England Writers. "A study
of the literature of New England from 1530 to
1870, with special reference to the contempo­
rary movement in society, politics, and
religion ."6
The development at the University of Washington is
particularly worthy of attention, for the instructor was
1.
Mount Holyoke College, Catalogue 1901-02, p. 36.
2. University of Nebraska, Catalogue 1906-07 (07-00), p. 170.
3. University of North Carolina, Catalogue 1908-09, p. 49.
4. Temple University, Catalogue 1908-09, p. 46.
5. University of Washington, Catalogue 1908-09 (09-10), p. 117.
6 . Yale University, Catalogue 1905-06, p. 128.
195
Vernon Louis Parrington, newly arrived on the faculty from
the University of Oklahoma.
Examination of his course a n ­
nouncements suggests that the ideas which were to go into his
Main Currents in American Thought (published 1927, 1930) were
already taking shape in his mind; they were almost certainly
evident in his presentation of the American literary scene to
his classes.
Sectional Literature
During this period, 1900-1910, regionalism began to
become evident in the teaching of American literature, partic­
ularly in colleges and universities in the South.
From the
early days of the subject, the literature of New England had
dominated the field so far as subject matter was concerned,
not, however, as a regional product per s e , but in its own
right, from an aesthetic and philosophical point of view.
Now, in this first decade of the twentieth century, the lit­
erature of other localities became the subject of study both
in their local institutions and elsewhere, and rather from a
1
social, regional point of view than from a purely aesthetic.
1
.
It would appear that the University of Alabama was a
pioneer in the field of regional literature. From
1894 to 1899 "Southern Literature" (Catalogue 189798, p. 31 "Southern, Alabama") is announced as part
of the English literature offering (Catalogue 189495, p. 34 "Southern Literature— Lectures and Miss
Manly") How much attention the subject received it
is impossible to say. Probably not much.
Letter: Charles H. Earnwell (Dean of the College of Arts
196
At the University of Arkansas’*' "minor poets of the South"
appear as part of the American literature course. Southern
2
literature is likewise mentioned at Mississippi,
the Univer3
4
5
6
sity of the South, Virginia,
Louisiana, Missouri, and
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6
.
and Sciences, University of Alabama), July 10, 1939:
"...frankly, I suspect very little attention was paid
to American literature in the earlier years....I have
examined carefully the catalogue of 1894-95, and fail
to find any reference to a Miss Manly....Since you
found it, though, in some one of the University of
Alabama catalogues, my guess is that it refers to Miss
Louise Manly, a granddaughter of Basil Manly, Sr., who
was for eighteen years president of the University of
Alabama. Miss Manly was born in Richmond, Virginia,
but moved to Alabama later in life and was the author
Southern Literature and a History of Alabama for
Children, and assisted in editing English Poets. I do
not think, however, she could have been an assistant
to my predecessor.
See also, University of Tennessee, Catalogue 1899-1900
(1900-01), p. 56.
University of Arkansas, Catalogue 1907-08 (08-09), p. 8 8 .
University of Mississippi, Catalogue 1902-03, p. 54.
Also, Catalogue 1895-96, p. 66 "poets of the South and
West."
This was only a part of a course, however, and
appears for only one year.
University of the South, Calendar 1905-06, p. 81. "Trent's
Southern Writers."
University of Virginia, Catalogue 1899-1900 (1900-01),
p. 73. "X. American Poets, with a Special Study of
Southern Poetry--This course, extending from March 25th
to June 1st, will comprise a somewhat rapid examination
of American poetry and closer study of certain Southern
poets. Among the Southern poets thus closely studied
will be Poe, Lanier, Timrod, Hayne, Father Ryan, Hope
and Thompson."
This was one-third of the course offered
for the M, A. It would appear to be the first graduate
course emphasizing the regional approach.
See also Cat­
alogue (1900-01 (01-02), p. 69. Subjects suggested for
doctoral dissertations: "Southern Periodicals ; "South­
ern Fiction"; "Southern Oratory, Prior to I860."
Louisiana State University, Catalogue 1908-09 (09-10),
pp. 141-142.
University of Missouri, Catalogue 1899-1900, p. 79. ,:10a
197
Texas.^
The University of Kentucky included "The Literary
History of Kentucky" as a part of its American literature ofp
fering. Pour universities mentioned New England literature
3
4
as such— the University of Washington, Wesleyan University,
5
6
Wisconsin, and Yale, where the course was given b y Henry
7
Augustin Beers.
The University of California announced work
in California Literature.
No doubt other institutions placed
emphasis upon their local literature as an aspect of their
survey courses, but these were alone in specifically alluding
to the fact in their announcements.
Advanced Courses
Increase In attention to American literature may be
noted in a number of institutions.
This Increase usually
took the form of an undergraduate course aupplementary to
the survey course (in the sense that the survey course was
prerequisite) in which a particular aspect of American lit­
erature was studied more intensely and in considerable de­
tail.
The following institutions offered such courses:
American Literature.
(a) Sectional Development..."
See also Catalogues 1900-01, 1901-02 and following.
1. University of Texas, Catalogue 1903-04, p. 71. See also
Catalogue 1904-05.
2. University of Kentucky, Catalogue 1909, p. 83.
3. University of Washington, Catalogue 1908-09 (09-10), p. 117.
4. Wesleyan University, Catalogue 1904-05, p. 46.
5. University of Wisconsin, Catalogue 1900-01, p. 132.
6 . Yale University, Catalogue 1902-03, p. 97.
7. University of California, Catalogue 1909-10 (10-11), p. 79.
198
1
2
3
4
Columbia, Harvard,
Heidelberg,
Oregon,
Pennsylvania
5
6
7
8
^
9
10
State,
Tufts, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Yale,
11
12
13
14
California,
Mississippi,
Maine,
Montana State,
North
15
16
17
Carolina,
Cornell,
South Dakota.
Thus during the decade
1900-1910, study in American literature in addition to the
survey course and of a more advanced status on the undergrad­
uate level was at some time being offered by 17 institutions.
Graduate Work
The opportunities for graduate work in American lit­
erature increased only slightly during this decade.
During
the decade 1890-1900, 13 institutions offered at some time
graduate work in the subject; between 1900 and 1910, the list
included 16, and there was indication of the possibility of
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
.
7.
8.
6
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
Columbia University, Register 1903-04, p. 108.
Harvard University, Catalogue 1905-06, p. 372.
Heidelberg College, Catalogue 1906-07 (07-08), p. 54.
University of Oregon, Catalogue 1904-05 (05-06), p. 69.
Pennsylvania State College, Catalogue 1908-09, pp. 185186.
Tufts College, Catalogue, 1904-05, p. 60.
University of Virginia, Catalogue 1903-04 (04-05), p. 124.
University of West Virginia, Catalogue 1903-04 (04-05),
p. 62.
University of Wisconsin, Catalogue 1900-01, p. 132.
Yale University, Catalogue 1905-06, p. 128.
University of California, Register 1903-04, p. 191,
University of Mississippi, Catalogue 1904-05, p. 80..
University of Maine, Catalogue 1904-05, p. 74.
Montana State University, Catalogue 1900-01, (01-02),
p. 38.
University of North Carolina, Catalogue 1908-09, pp. 4950.
Cornell University, Register 1907-08, p. 126.
University of South Dakota, Catalogue 1906-07 (07-08),
pp. 82, 85.
199
the establishment in a few institutions of an academic tra­
dition favoring American literature as a graduate study.
The following institutions which had offered graduate work in
the field at soirie time between 1890 and 1900 were still in
1
the field between 1900 and 1910: George Washington,
George2
3
4
5
6
town, Harvard, Mississippi,
Virginia, Yale.
The follow­
ing
institutions had introduced such work since the pre7
8
9
10
vious decade: Chicago, Cincinnati,
Cornell,
Kansas,
11
12
13
14
15
Maine,
Nebraska,
Oklahoma,
Tulane,
Wisconsin,
and
16
Pennsylvania.
Of the group which offered graduate work be-
1.
10
George Washington University, Catalogue 1905 (05-06),
p, 82.
2. Georgetown University, Catalogue 1903-04, pp. 50-51.
3. Harvard University, Catalogue 1908=09, p. 56 •
4. University of Mississippi, Catalogue 1902-03, p. 59.
5. University of Virginia, Catalogue 1905-06, p. 138.
6 . Yale University, Catalogue 1905-06, p. 328.
7. University of Chicago, Catalogue 1900-01 (01-02), pp. 253, 254.
8 . University of Cincinnati, Catalogue 1904-05, p. 51.
9. Cornell University, Register 1907-08, p. 126.
10. University of Kansas, Catalogue 1903-04 (04-05), p. 110.
11. University of Maine, Catalogue 1909-10, p. 89.
12. University of Nebraska, Catalogue 1904-05 (05-06), p. 108.
13. University of Oklahoma, Catalogue 1908-09 (09-10), p. 78.
14. Tulane University, Register 1909-10, p. 63.
15. University of Wisconsin, Catalogue 1903-04, p. 128.
16. Letter: Arthur Hobson Quinn (Professor of English, Uni­
versity of Pennsylvania), 11 July 1939. ” In 1905-6
I offered a graduate course on ’Forms and Movements
in American Literature'....So far as I know, it was
the first purely graduate course in American litera­
ture given in American universities. There were
other courses, I am sure, given to mixed graduate
and undergraduate classes, by this time, but from
the very beginning I insisted that graduate work in
American literature should be limited to graduate
students.
I w a s , therefore, able to place the in­
struction on a satisfactory level, and to deal...
200
tween 1890 and 1900 only 6 had fallen out: Tennessee, Brown,
Arkansas, Dartmouth (which had offered only a special, oneyear course for one student), California, and Minnesota.
This increase in graduate courses was of great importance,
for it was a measure of the extent to which prospective col­
lege teachers of American literature were able to obtain
advanced training in their subject.
An influence pertaining intimately to graduate study
was the increasing strength of college libraries and the re­
sulting possibility of collecting Americana worthy of exami­
nation and discussion.^
Summary
Thus of the 35 institutions favoring American litera-
1.
with special subjects as 'The literature of coloni­
zation,’ ’The literature of the Revolution,' ’The
literary attack and defense of slavery,' etc., getting
away from the personal courses dealing with individual
authors, which were given to the undergraduates.
Practically all the graduate work in American literature
here has grown out of this course.”
In the decade 1900-10 it would appear from catalogue an­
nouncements that graduate courses in American litera­
ture were made more available to undergraduates. Out
of 16 courses available for graduate credit, 11 were
open also for undergraduate credit. The following
appear from the catalogues to have been restricted to
graduates: Chicago (1900-01, p. 254), George Washington
(1905-06, p. 82), Georgetown (1903-04, pp. 50-51),
Mississippi (1902-03, p. 59), Pennsylvania (1905-06,
see above) .
See Norman Foerster, The Reinterpretat 1on of American
Literature•
201
ture during the period 1890-1900, 25 were carrying forward
the influence during the decade 1900-1910.
But the total
number of institutions offering definite and considerable
work in the field had jumped from 35 to 80.
The general movement toward expansion of American
literature offerings is notable even within the decade.
The
following institutions show introduction, reintroduction, or
marked expansion of courses in the field during the period
1
2
1905-10, the latter half of the decade: Antioch,
Colgate,
3
4
5
Kansas, Minnesota,
Pennsylvania State, University of Wash6
7
8
9
10
11
ington, Wellesley, Bates, DePauw,
Iowa,
Johns Hopkins,
12
13
14
15
Kentucky,
Louisiana State,
Miami University, Nebraska,
1.
.
3.
4.
5.
2
6
.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
Antioch College, Catalogue 1908-09, p. 18.
Colgate University, Catalogue 1909, p. 39.
University of Kansas, Catalogue 1904-05 (05-0S), p. 115.
University of Minnesota, Catalogue 1906-07 (07-08), p. 8 8 .
Pennsylvania State College, Catalogue 1908-09, pp. 185,
186, 188 •
Univer 3 itv of Washington, Catalogue 1908-09 (09-10),
p. 117.
Wellesley College, Catalogue 1908-09, pp. 65, 71.
Bates College, Catalogue 1907-08, p. 36.
DePauw University, Catalogue 1908, p. 57. American Lit­
erature required of all English Literature majors.
University of Iowa, Catalogue 1905-06, p. 141.
Johns Hopkins University, Programme of Studies 1906-07,
p . 39.
University of Kentucky, Catalogue 1909, p. 83. Literary
History of America required of all baccalaureate can­
didates.
Louisiana State University, Catalogue 1908-09 (09-10),
pp. 141, 142.
Miami University, Catalogue 1908-09, p. 84.
University of Nebraska, Catalogue 1904-05 (05-06), pp.
108, 224.
202
1
2
5
4
New Mexico, New York University, North Carolina, Oberlin,
5
6
7
8
9
Oklahoma, Richmond, Rutgers, South Dakota,
Swarthmore,
10
11
12
13
14
Temple,
Trinity,
Tulane,
Utah,
Vassar.
The increasing prestige of the study of American
literature in colleges and universities was not, of course,
an isolated academic phenomenon.
To a great extent it was,
probably, an aspect of the increasing strength of English
literature.
William Peterfield Trent of Columbia University
15
commented on this widening stream of literary interest. He
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6
.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
University of New Mexico, Catalogue 1906-07 (07-08), p. 37.
New York University, Announcement (Washington Square Col­
lege), 1906-07,. p. 389.
University of North Carolina, Catalogue 1908-09, p. 49.
Oberlin College, Catalogue 1906-07 (07-08), p. 129.
University of Oklahoma, Catalogue 1908-09 (09-10), pp. 75,
78, 79.
University of Richmond, Catalogue 1908-09 (09-10), pp. 3738.
Rutgers University, Catalogue 1906-07, p. 72.
University of South Dakota, Catalogue 1906-07 (07-08),
pp. 82, 83, 85.
Swarthmore College, Catalogue 1905-06, p. 8 8 .
Temple University, Catalogue 1908-09, p. 47.
Trinity College, Catalogue 1906-07, pp. 60-61.
Tulane University, Register 1908-09, p. 84.
University of Utah, Catalogue 1908-09, p. 121.
Vassar College, Catalogue 1906-07, pp. 37, 38.
Department of History
"American Political Literature.. .development of American
political literature during the Colonial period and
its relation to the general development of the Colo­
nies... " (Catalogue 1905-06, p. 36)
11The Literature of American History.
This course a t ­
tempts to study American history by means of letters,
diaries, travels, speeches...”
(Catalogue 1907-08,
p. 42)
William Peterfield Trent, Sewanee Review, Vol. 12
(January, 1904), p. 1.
203
recognized the rising tide of literary study as opposed to
pure philological study: "Fortunately during the past ten
years (1894-1904) this fact has been more and more recognized
in American colleges and universities, until, in some insti­
tutions indeed, the balance has been tipped almost unfairly
against philology.
1
Similar testimony to the rising strength of the study
of literature in general is offered by another article in the
Sewanee Review during this period— "Womanly Education for
2
Women."
A writer in the Atlantic Monthly during this period
mentioned the rise of English literary studies and suggested
connections between this emphasis and various social changes.
There is a connection, he states, between the teaching of
English literature and democracy.
English is more widely
taught in the United States than in England because of the
aristocratic institutional tradition in the old country.
The
allies of English as a study have been democracy, individual­
ism, the national spirit, physical science, utilitarian phi­
losophy, the influence of women, and Christianity.
One
gathers, however,, that the author of this article is not en­
tirely sympathetic with the tendency.
1.
2.
Democracy, he says,
Trent, oje. cut., p. 6 .
John M. McBryde, Womanly Education for Women, Sewanee
Review, Vol. 15 (October, 1907), p. 474.
204
has outgrown its education.
It desires "culture made easy."
Students come mostly from "families wealthy without inherited
ideals, or prominent without distinction."
The colleges
authorities have faced a problem: what to do?
Training implied small classes; so training was
not to he thought of. What, then, could he done
with students in large masses. They could have
frequent practice in writing about subjects with
which they were presumably already conversant;
and they could listen to lectures on English
literature.
In the one way, they could, if not
form a style, at least learn to avoid the most
vulgar errors; in the other, they could acquire
a tincture of information concerning authors and
their works and learn to speak with decision
about books which they perhaps had never read,
_
and on which they had certainly never reflected.
All this lively discussion of the history and tech­
niques of literary study was good for the teaching of litera­
ture as a college subject; It was at once evidence of its
increasing prestige and stimulation to further expansion.
And in this general and generous expansion of the subject as
a whole, American literature came in for a share, though
still by no means a large or Impressive share.
Early in the
decade American literature courses were not uncommonly one
tenth to one seventh of the total course offering in English
and American literature; as English literature courses multI-
1.
The Teaching of English, Atlantic Monthly, May, 1901,
p. 49.
205
plied, the proportion— though not the absolute amount— of at­
tention given our own literature a c t u a l l y seems to have de­
creased.
Comments
During the period 1900-1910, several articles ap­
peared in periodical literature that had bearing on the prob­
lems of the teaching of American literature.
Three of these
were primarily concerned with the possible connection between
the production of literature in the United States and instruc­
tion in i t .
On Production and Instruction
John M. Berdan of Toledo in an article entitled
"American Literature and the High School,"
suggested that one
duty of the teacher of literature was to create a demand for
it— for American literature In this case.
1
Edwin D. Schoonmaker deplored the failure (as he saw
it) of the colleges to produce men of letters and suggested
that some inspection of the Instructional methods employed
was in order.
He attacks the "We are living our epic" theory
to account for the lack of literary productivity, and he
counters, "No, distinguished gentlemen of the arts department,
1
.
John M. Berdan, American Literature and the High School,
A r e n a , XXIX (April, 1903), pp. 337-344.
206
it is not the age that is to blame:
it is you."
Are we to
assume, he asks, that Big Business is enticing away the pos­
sible practitioners of literature?
Are we left no alternative but to believe that
the young men and women of America who might be
writing our drama and novel have been sold to
our czars of trade and shipped off to the firing
line, are bombarding some outpost for the BeefTrust or serving as spies for the Standard Oil
Company?
He pokes fun also at "original research" and cites as absurd
subjects: The Time Scheme of Faust and The Influence of
p
Percy *3 Reliques on Wordsworth«^ He ends by suggesting that
a committee of authors conduct an investigation of university
practices in the instruction of literature--illustration of
the growing sense of need for literary men as well as scholars
on the campus.
A similar protest was voiced by C. K. Taylor in his
article "Mediocrity in American Literature: A 'Raison
d'Etre.'"
3
The raison d 'etre which he suggests is the analyt­
ical technique— the "coroner's inquest"— as applied to litera­
ture and the jejune, over-factual study of histories of lit­
erature .
1.
2.
3.
Edwin D. Schoonmaker, What Our Universities Are Doing for
American Literature, Arena, XXXV (May, 1906), p. 501.
Ibid., p. 503.
C. K. Taylor, Mediocrity in American Literature: A Raison
d'Etre, Education, XXX (February, 1910), pp. 357-363.
207
None of these three authors very definitely advocates
increased study of our literature as a means of correcting
the situation which they deplore; rather, they concentrate on
method and agree in attacking the linguistic, philological
technique.
There is no evidence that their articles produced
any immediate result, but their comments are significant as
evidence of a growing attitude on the part of men of letters
and teachers.
Mae J. Evans
More revealing and more important for the light it
casts on the teaching of American literature in this period
is Mae J. E v a n s 1 "How Much Work Is Done in American Litera­
ture in the High School, and by What Methods?"— the report of
a committee investigating the subject in the high schools of
Iowa In 1903.
The hiatus between the college attitude toward Ameri­
can literature and that of the high school is at once in evi­
dence.
Of the 14 books which college entrance requirements
designated for study, only 1 was by an American author, and
that was The Vision of Sir Launfal which (as the author points
out) is really English in atmosphere.^"
In spite of the pressure from above, the secondary
1.
Mae J. Evans, How Much Work Is Done in American Litera­
ture In the High Schools, and by What Methods? School
Review, XI (October, 1903), pp. 647-648.
208
schools were, according to this report, placing heavy emphasis
on American literature; the following facts are cited: Aver­
age time
(based on 5 recitations a week) devoted to American
literature is
6
months; to English literature,
8
months.
For
3 large high schools the following figures were discovered:
(1)
American, 1 year— English 3 years;
English 2|; years;
(2) American, \ year—
(3) American, 1 year--English 1 year.
The
larger schools give more time to English literature than to
American.
American literature is usually studied first, and
is taken up in chronological order.
Out of 20 larger schools
13 used a textbook.'*'
The author states the opinion that American literature
is a very important study for the inculcating of democratic
ideals, but that English literature deserves more attention
because of its strength on the more general scores:
Fox’ disciplinary power, for sublimity of thought,
for insight into human nature— in brief, for a
criticism of life, these authors (Macaulay, Milton,
Burke, Shakespeare) have no peer in the literary
history of America....
That American literature receives a large propor­
tion of time in the one hundred and thirteen high
schools— perhaps too large a proportion for its
relative worth:— is demonstrated by the statistics
compiled by the committee .2
The committee is of the opinion that the college
1.
2.
Evans, ojo. cit. , pp. 650-651.
Ibid.. pp. 648-649.
209
entrance requirements place too little stress on
the value of the study of American authors, and
that the majority of the high schools unduly em­
phasize its study.
Brander Matthews is quoted on the danger of overemphasizing
American literature to the point of producing provincialism
and of overemphasizing English literature to the point of
producing colonialism.
Textbook Commentary
Several of the textbooks dealing w i t h American litera­
ture during this period provide side-lights on contemporary
opinions of the subject and on its situation in the curriculum.
Alphonso C. Newcomer, associate professor of English at Leland
Stanford states:
The method of teaching literatxire exclusively
through a historical text-book has for many years
been discredited. The substitution, however, of
the study of a few selected "masterpieces ’1 has
also proved unsatisfactory, both because it
leaves literature unrelated to history, and b e ­
cause it leaves the student without any sense of
relations and proportion in literature itself.
The remedy is sought in a compromise. None will
attempt to teach literature to-day without r e ­
quiring liberal reading in the works of impor­
tant writers; but at the same time this reading
will be regulated and the acquired knowledge set
in order by the use of a critical history.
Careful organization, therefore, should charac­
terize every such history.
There should be ade-
1.
Evans, ojc. c i t .» p. 653.
210
quate recognition both of the various phases of
literature and of individual writers. The selec­
tion of a few names, however truly representa­
tive, will not answer; and no writer may be pre­
sented in isolation from the rest.
Current criticism...tends perceptibly to depre­
ciate our native literature.
Possibly one who,
like the writer of this book, has an honest ad­
miration for our less academic writers, and
ventures to set himself against this attitude,
may find himself justified in the end.^In his Introduction, Newcomer sums up his estimate
and his general pictures of American literature— a picture
that is significant since it represents the attitude of a man
who, on the whole, was a literary liberal in his time and a
distinguished teacher in the field of American literature.
The effects [of the materialistic problems] upon
our literature are evident. During only one of
the three centuries since the permanent occupation
of American by the English people has any litera­
ture worthy of the name been produced. Few of
our writers have been writers primarily, and few
of them have left any such volume of work as we
are accustomed to associate with the names of
Great European authors.
In quality, too our lit­
erature Is often like thin wine, without body.
Many things are lacking to it. A transplanted
people, we are not as a race that is born to the
Inheritance of its land and bound together by
long community of interests and of purpose. We
have no barbarous or legendary past to enrich our
chronicles and fire our imaginations. Chivalry
and feudalism have no direct part in us. We have
no national deities or patron saints; no ancient
and mystic priesthood; no fairies, no knights,
1.
Alphonso G. Newcomer, American Literature (Chicago: Scott,
Foresman & Co., 1901, 364 pages), Preface, pp. 5-6.
211
no courtiers, no kings. We have not even a
distinct national name about which traditions
might gather and which, like Merrie England
or _la belle France, would serve to conjure
with in the realms of art.
Thus our litera­
ture quite lacks the peculiar flavor some­
times known as race. It lacks, too, the atmos­
phere of aristocracy, and, in a sense, the at­
mosphere of religion. Worst of all, perhaps, it
lacks the feeling for artistic repose, the sense
for proportion and beauty; for the strenuous
moral and intellectual life of our ancestors has
left us a heritage aesthetically barren.
Still, there are compensations.
A new world is
at least new, and its writers may find novel
themes and fresh inspiration just over their
thresholds.
Our colonial and national history
has not been uneventful.
There have been reli­
gious crusades, financial and industrial panics,
and wars both foreign and domestic.
The very so­
cial chaos which paralyzes art, the conflict and
tumult of diverse races struggling towards unity,
is, to one who can detach himself and observe, a
highly dramatic spectable. Besides, the world
of nature does not materially change.
In a new
country, indeed, the lure of outdoor life is pe­
culiarly strong. And in a variety of natural
features, in charm of landscape, in diversity of
seasons, in wealth of flora and fauna, the old
world has no advantage over the new. Still less
does human nature change, and wherever two men
find room to stand together, the primal passions
will assert themselves and the poet find his
song.
It is only a question of time when there
should be an American literature, and the time
was not unduly long in coming.
Now, indeed, some portion of our literature is
safely enshrined as classic, and it is possible
for us to look back upon a fairly definite and
complete epoch....Now that that seems to be
passed and that its leaders are gone with it,
the history of American literature may be writ­
ten without fear or apology.
1.
Newcomer, og. c i t ., pp. 12 ff.
212
Brander Matthews of Columbia University at about this
same time was offering advice to teachers of American litera­
ture.
His suggestions were these:
ture thoroughly;
(1) Know American litera­
(2) Keep in mind "the long history of the
Anglo-Saxon race and...note especially the transforming of the
ideals of the American half of that race in consequence of its
transplanting into new conditions on this side of the Atlan­
tic" ; (5) Present the English backgrounds of American litera­
ture and note well the continued connections between them;
(4) Stay clear of "patriotic bias," but "beware of underesti­
mating the value of these American poets to us Americans— a
value very real and very precious to us, whatever it may be
to the rest of the world";
(5)Correlate books and ideas on a
historical basis.1
In an article by William Dean Howells, "Professor
Barrett Wendell's Notions of American Literature," for almost
the first time the clash between the campus and the literacy
world, and between the East and the rest of the country broke
the surface.
Howells comments unfavorably on Wendell's A
Literary History of America and likewise unfavorably on Wendell
himself.
1.
2.
2
Brander Matthews, Suggestions for Teachers of American
Literature, Educational Review. XXL (January, 1901),
pp. 11-16.
William Dean Howells, Professor Barrett Wendell's Notions
of American Literature, North American Review, CLXXII
(April, 1901), p. 624.
213
So frequent had the histories of American literature
become by 1904 that the Outlook published in that year a
single article in which four were reviewed at one time.
The
introductory remarks offer a view of the literary temper of
the times so far as American literature was concerned:
The historian of our National literature...
should do two things: he should reveal the
gradual unfolding of a nations5s consciousness
as it advances in culture, and, with impartial
judgment, he should indicate those aesthetic
elements which the nation has contributed to
the culture of the w o r l d . . T h e r e have been
many attempts recently to write the literary
history of America, and they all indicate a
tendency to adopt, more and more, the cosmopol­
itan standpoint. The day is past when Bryant
was glorified as the American Wordsworth, and
when zealously patriotic critics indulged them­
selves in all kinds of such vainglorious
parallels.
The array of textbooks, anthologies, and general his­
tories of American literature is moderately impressive until
one discovers (through their own frank enough acknowledgments)
how really derivative they were.
The estimate of William J.
Long (1913) is fair enough:
There is no complete or authoritative history
of the subject. One of the best general sur­
veys is Richardson, American Literature, 16071885, 2 vols., or Students' edition 1 vol.
1.
Recent flistories of American Literature, Outlook, LXXVI
(February 13, 1904), pp. 426-427.
214
(Putnam, 1888). This is a critical work and
contains no biographical material. Two other
general histories, each containing a small
amount of biography interspersed with critical
appreciation, are Trent, American Literature,
in Literature of the World series (Appleton,
1903) , and Wendell, A Literary History of
America, in the Library of Literary History
(Scribner, 1900) • There are also a score of
textbooks dealing with the same subject....
The only complete and scholarly work dealing
with any period of our literary history is
Tyler, History of American Literature, 2 vols.,
and Literary History of the Revolution, 2 vols.
(Putnam) .-*■
The type of book that was thus being produced reveals
that the general, broad history— the type of book suited to
use in survey courses— was most in demand; the call for more
specialized studies of American literature by types (novel,
short story, essay, and the like) had not yet set in.
Separate Courses in American Literature
in Year 1909-1910
Alabama
Amherst
Antioch
Arkansas
Barnard
Bates
Baylor
Boston
Brown
Bucknell
California
Chicago
Cincinnati
1
.
Idaho
Illinois
'Indiana
Iowa
Johns Hopkins
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Miami University
Michigan
Middlebury
Pennsylvania
Penn.“State College
Pittsburgh
Richmond
Rochester
Rutgers
Smith
Univ. of the South
South Dakota
Southern California
Swarthmore
Syracuse
Temple
William J. Long, American Literature: A study of the men
and the books that in the earlier and later times r e ­
flect the American spirit, p. xviii.
215
Colgate
Columbia
Cornell
Dartmouth
DePauw
Dickinson
Duke
Emory
Franklin & Marshall
Georgetown
Georgia
Goucher
Harvard
Haverford
Heidelberg
Hobart
Howard College
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
M t . Holyoke
Nebraska
New Hampshire
New Mexico
New York Univ.
North Carolina
North Dakota
Northwestern
Oberlin
Ohio University
Ohio State Univ
Oklahoma
Oregon
Texas
Trinity
Tufts
Tulane
Utah
Vassar
Vermont
Virginia
Univ. of Washington
Washington Univ.
Wellesley
Wesleyan
Western Reserve
West Virginia
Williams
Wisconsin
Yale
Work in American Literature: 1910-1918
The years 1910-1918 represent, for the most part,
comparatively little extension of the teaching of American
literature on the college level so far as most institutions
are concerned.
By 1910 most American colleges and universi­
ties were offering at least a modicum of work in the subject,
so that, on the survey level, a kind of point of saturation
had been reached.
Courses Introduced
The following institutions, however, which had given
little or no attention to American literature during the past
1 .
.
2
decade now announced courses: Bates
(1913-14), Delaware
1.
2.
Bates College, Catalogue 1913-14, p. 53.
University of Delaware, Catalogue 1911-12 (12-13),
pp. 29-30.
216
1
2
(1912-13), Florida
(1910-11), Georgetown
(1914-15), Hampden3
4
5
Sydney
(1910-11), Howard University
(1910-11), Nevada
6
(1916-17), College of the City of New York
(1916-17), St.
7
8
John's College
(1911-12), Washington & Lee
(1915-16),
9
10
11
Wyoming
(1915-16), Purdue
(1917-18), Vanderbilt
(1913-14),
12
13
14
Colby
(1912-13), Colgate
(1912-13), Tennessee
(1913-14).
Diminishments
But in the following institutions American literature
was dropped or given markedly less attention than it had been
in the decade past:
15
Alabama (dropped 1910-11, reappeared 1916-17),
herst (given 1913-15 only),
16
Cincinnati
Am-
(omitted 1911-12,
17
1912-13, 1914-15, 1917-18),
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Duke (given 1909-11, 1912-14
University of Florida, Catalogue 1909-10 (10-11), p. 69.
Georgetown University, Catalogue 1914-15, p. 59.
Hampden-Sydney College, Catalogue 1911, p. 29.
Howard University, Catalogue 1910-11, pp. 56-57.
University of Nevada, Catalogue 1915-16 (16-17), p.
146.
College of the City of New York, Catalogue 1915-16-17
(16-17) , p. 63.
7. St. John's College, Catalogue 1910-11 (11-12), p. 44.
8 . Washington & Lee College, Catalogue 1915, p. 97.
9. University of Wyoming, Catalogue 1916, p. 87.
10. Purdue University, Catalogue 1916-17 (17-18), p. 133.
11. Vanderbilt Universitv, Catalogue 1912-13 (13-14), pp. 6768.
12. Colby College, Catalogue 1912-13, p. 60.
13. Colgate University, Catalogue 1912, pp. 49-50.
14.
University of Tennessee, Catalogue 1911-12 (12-13), p. 85.
15.
University of Alabama, Catalogue 1909-10 (10-11), p. 55;
1915-16 (16-17), p. 64.
16. Amherst College, Catalogue 1913-14, p. 6 8 ; 1914-15, p. 69.
17. University of Cincinnati, Catalogues 1910-11 through
1917-18.
217
1
2
only), Franklin & Marshall (given 1916-18 only), Haverford
(given 1910-13 only),3 Ohio University (given 1910-13, 19174
18 only), Trinity (American literature gone from English and
American literature survey 1914-15; 1917-18 alternating only),
6
George Washington (given 1912-13, 1917-18 only), Heidelberg
(alternating only,
7
after 1914-15), Michigan (after 1912),
Q
The expansion entailed in the courses introduced in
16 institutions was thus nearly balanced b y the loss of em­
phasis in other areas— the 11 institutions noted above.
That
there could be such loss of strength suggests that the subject
was not yet, in many institutions, firmly or traditionally
established.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
Duke University, Catalogue 1909-10, p. 69 (See also 191011, 1912-13, 1913-14).
Franklin & Marshall College, Catalogue 1915-16, p, 65
(See also 1916-17).
Haverford College, Catalogues 1913-14 through 1916-17.
Ohio University, Catalogues 1910-11 (11-12), p. 43; 1911-12
(12-13), p. 43; 1912-13 through 1915-16; 1916-17
(17-18), p. 51.
Trinity College, Catalogues 1914-15, p, 65; 1917-18,
p . 63 .
George Washington University, Catalogues 1913i p. 91;
1917, p. 108; (See also 1910 through 1916).
Heidelberg College, Catalogues 1914-15 through 1916-17.
University of Michigan, Catalogue 1912-13. Demmon was
followed by S. F. Gingerich.
Letter: T. E. Rankin (Professor of English, Carleton
College), 12 July 1939. "His [Gingerich1s ] main in­
terest was in the work of Wordsworth rather than in
American literature. If I am not mistaken his teach­
ing of American literature was because the task fell
into his hands rather than was sought by him.11
218
Influence: Leading Institutions
The most important development during the years 19101918 in the field of the teaching of American literature on
collegiate levels was the rising importance granted the sub­
ject in several major universities, and the strong position
that it came to occupy in other influential institutions.
University of Chicago
At the University of Chicago in 1905 Percv Holmes
1
Boynton had begun vigorous work in American literature.
In
2
1913-14 the range of this work was extended, and, with an
assistant, G. W, Sherburne, Boynton began now the development
of the teaching of American literature at Chicago which has
placed that Intitution today (1941) in the very forefront of
the field.
(See Chapter V)
quarter courses were offered:
(2)
Prom 1913 to 1917, three full(1) Early American Literature,
Nineteenth Century American Literature,
American Literature.
(3) Studies in
In 1917 this offering was further ex­
tended and the subject occupied seven quarter hours divided
among four courses.
4
Columbia University
At Columbia University the line of development begun
1.
2.
3.
4.
University of Chicago, Catalogue
University of Chicago, Catalogue
University of Chicago, Catalogue
See also 1915-16 (16-17).
University of Chicago, Catalogue
1904-05 (05-06), p. 270.
1912-13 (13-14), p. 225.
1912-13 (13-14), p. 225;
1916-17 (17-18), p. 223.
219
by Brander Matthews continued.
Matthews was joined in the
field from 1911 to 1915 by John Erskine,
1
who gave a re­
stricted graduate course, and in 1915 by Carl Van Doren and
William Peterfield Trent who offered graduate seminars equal
2
to two full courses.
From 1916 to 1918 the graduate w o r k in
the subject was carried on by Van Doren alone.
G. R. Car­
penter had also been associated with Brander Matthews (18991900) , but during this period he taught American literature
4
only at Barnard College.
Wrork in the subject had also been
5
given at Barnard earlier by G, P. Krapp (1900-01) and by W.
6
P. Trent (Graduate Seminar 1903-04).
Harvard University
Harvard University, from 1910 to 1918 continued the
work begun in 1897 by Barrett Wendell.
In 1911 Bliss Perry
introduced a graduate course in the works of Emerson.
7
There
seems to have been comparatively little general enthusiasm
for American literature at Harvard during these years, how8
ever.
Wendell's basic course became an alternating course,
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
.
7.
8.
6
Columbia University, Catalogue 1911-12, p. 106.
Columbia University, Catalogue 1915-16, p. 111.
Columbia University, Catalogue 1916-17, p. 114; see also
1917-18.
Columbia University, Catalogue 1910-11; Carpenter was fol­
lowed at Barnard by F. T. Baker (See Columbia Univer­
sity, Catalogue 1915-16, p. 110.
Columbia University, Catalogue 1900-01, p. 118.
Columbia University, Catalogue 1903-04, p. 108.
Harvard University, Catalogue 1911-12, p. 333.
Letter: Lewis Perry (Principal, Phillips Exeter Academy),
220
though his more advanced course was announced every year.
Wendell's work was carried forward by Chester Noyes Greenough,
who included considerable American material also In his
course in seventeenth century prose (1914-15).
nadier's "English and American Historians"
up a new field of American literature.
2
G. H. May-
(1915-18) opened
Though the actual
amount of work offered in American literature in any one year
during this period is not impressive, the influence of Wen­
dell, Perry, and Greenough was probably considerable in the
extension of the prestige of American literature as a college
s tudy.
University of Washington
At the University of Washington, Vernon Louis Parrington had become professor of English in 1909, and the d e ­
velopment of strong work in American literature had begun al­
most at once.
(See Pages 265-69)
In 1910-11 L. D. Milliman
was added to the faculty and cooperated with Farrington in
teaching American literature.
1.
2.
In 1916-17, under the separate
21 June 1939. "He [Bliss Perry] gave an Emerson course
there, I think with great success, and he intended to
write a book on American literature and had a good
deal of the material ready, but he finally came to the
conclusion that at the present time the interest on the
part of undergraduates was not great enough to justify
such an expenditure of time."
Harvard University, Catalogue 1914-15, p. 346.
Harvard University, Catalogue 1915-16, p. 384.
221
1
heading "American Literature"
the following courses were
offered:
Early Nineteenth Century Literature in America
iJParrington)
"A study in national ideals.. .literature of the
Constitution, early poetry, fiction and essays,
and the controversy over slavery." (3 hrs., 1
semester)
Middle Nineteenth Century Literature in America
(Parrington)
New England, Whitman... (3 hrs. 2nd semester)
American Literature from 1870 to 1890 (Parrington)
2 hrs., 1 st. semester.
American Literature from 1890 to 1918 (Parrington)
2 hrs., 2 nd semester.
Great American Writers (Milliman) Emerson,
Whitman, Hawthorne, Poe. 2 hrs., 1st semester
Great American Writers (Milliman)
Lowell. 2 hrs., 2nd. semester
Longfellow,
Graduate American Literature (Parrington)
1 st and 2 nd semesters
Subject according to wishes of class.
Period 1890-1914 "has been studied."
Thus, between 1910 and 1918, the University of Washington b e ­
came, in content, form, and general point of view, preeminent
in the United States in the teaching of American literature.
It was thus first among American institutions to devote an
important section of its curriculum to American literature and
first to offer a really impressive array of courses in the
1.
University of Washington, Catalogue 1915-16 (16-17),
p • 132.
222
subject.
The description of the courses reveals that the
general point of view which later produced Main Currents in
American Thought
ton.
(1927, 1930) was already activating Parring­
Not since the brief consulship of Moses Coit Tyler at
Michigan had American college students been privileged to be
taught by so stimulating a scholar in the field of American
literature•
University of Oregon
An important part was taken in these years by the
University of Oregon in the developing of American literature
as a subject for college study.
During the previous decade
Luella Clay Carson had given— more or less independently of
the English department--fairly extensive work in American
literature,^ and by 1909-1910 it was possible at Oregon to
2
major in "Rhetoric and American Literature"
In 1911-12,
3
following the resignation of Professor Carson, two instruc­
tors, Julia Burgess (B. A. Wellesley, M. A. Radcliffe) and
1.
2
.
3.
Letter: Dr. M. D. Sheldon (Official Historian, Univer­
sity of Oregon) to Dr. C. U. Boyer (Dean, College of
Arts and Letters, and Head of the Department of Eng­
lish, University of Oregon), 26 June 1939. "Prom that
time on (1901) for many years there were virtually
three English departments at Oregon.
Professor Carson
handling the formal work in composition and Rhetoric
as well as American literature..."
University of Oregon, Catalogue 1908-09 (09-10), p. 96.
"American Literature" appears as a separate sub-division
of Catalogue 1904-05 (05-06), p. 69.
University of Oregon, Report of the President of the Uni­
versity, Bulletin, VII (January, 1910), No. 5, p. 8 .
223
Mary H. Perkins (B. A. Bates, M. A. Radcliffe), offered work
in American literature
Carson.
1
beyond that formerly given by Luella
There were now a basic survey course, a course in
the American short story, and a course in the essay which in­
cluded American material.
To these were added in 1913-14 a
course in Emerson's works and a course with a peculiarly for­
ward-looking title: "The West in American Literature," both
2
given by Julia Burgess.
A course in contemporary American
poetry was added in 1915-16.
Bates
In 1916-17 Ernest Sutherland
joined the department, and the American literature
component received further addition.
4
the following courses:
In 1917-18 there were
Survey of American Literature 2 semesters
(Bates)
American Short Story 1 semester (Perkins)
Emerson 1 semester (Burgess)
The West in American Literature 1 semester (Burgess)
Contemporary Ameri can Poetry 1 semester (Bates)
Contemporary American Fiction 1 semester
(Bates)
Edgar Allan Poe 1 semester (Bates)
Whitman 1 semester (Bates)
The Influence of Contemporary Europ
['upon Ameri canT~1 sernester (Bates)
1.
2.
3.
4-.
University of
124.
University of
University of
University of
Oregon,
Catalogue 1910-11
(11-12), pp. 123,
Oregon,
Oregon,
Oregon,
Catalogue 1912-13
Catalogue 1915-16
Catalogue 1916-17
(13-14), p. 119.
(16-17), p. 100.
(17-18), p. 109.
224
Thus Oregon rivaled Washington for first place in the field
of instruction in American letters.
Washington seems to have had a more carefully planned
American literature offering from the historical point of
view (though the lack of a basic survey course was a strange
factor); and in personnel Washington had somewhat the advan­
tage.
Bates was an eminent literary man and a scholar, but
in the field of American studies he did not have the stature
of Parrington.
Oregon's offering is interesting for its em­
phasis upon types--the short story, fiction, poetry— and for
the course concerned with the West in American literature.
The individual courses on Poe and on Whitman were also inno­
vations at this time.
The alignment of the work at Washington
would appear to have been more in the tradition of Moses Coit
Tyler— limited In scope, thorough, historical; the work at
Oregon more along belletristic lines— appreciative, inspira­
tional, and aesthetic in objective.
The emphasis on contem­
porary literary in its various phases seems to have been
stronger at Oregon.
Washington announced a strong graduate
course, which Oregon lacked at this time.
University of Pennsylvania
At the University of Pennsylvania an important line
of development in the teaching of American literature had
1
2
been begun in 1902 by Arthur Hobson Quinn.
The offering in
1.
2.
University of Pennsylvania, Catalogue
1902-03, p. 144.
Letter; Arthur Hobson Quinn (Professor of English , Uni­
versity of Pennsylvania), 11 July 1939.
225
American literature was expanded during the period 1910-18.
After 1913 the basic course covered two terms, and a course
in the works of Poe and Emerson was added.
In 1916-17 "The
Drama in America," the first separate course in the subject
to be offered in an American university or college was in­
cluded."*’
Pennsylvania State College
Pennsylvania State College also began at this time to
achieve an important place among institutions offering work
in American literature.
Fred Lewis Pattee, whose work in
American literature dated from 1895 (and is still— 1941— in
progress) was teaching three courses; a survey course, two
advanced courses in special periods of American literature.
p
At Pennsylvania State in these years other courses included
American literary material— Contemporary Poetry (1909-10),
Contemporary Drama (1913-14), and the Novel (1911-12).
In
1914-15, "American Literature" appears in the Index and the
department title is "English and American Literature."
1.
2.
3.
University of Pennsylvania, Catalogue 1916-17, p. 258.
Letter; Arthur Hobson Quinn (Professor of English, Uni­
versity of Pennsylvania), 11 July 1939. "In 1917-18 I
gave for the first time anywhere a course in American
d r ama."
Pennsylvania State College, Catalogue 1908-09, pp. 185186, 188.
Pennsylvania State College, Catalogue 1914-15, p. 246.
(Fred Lewis Pattee held the title of Professor of
American Literature.)
226
University of Wisconsin
From 1910 to 1918 the University of 'Wisconsin of­
fered important courses in American literature, largely under
1
the direction of W, B. Cairns.
The offering was made up of
the usual survey course, a course dealing with individual
authors, and a seminar for graduate students.
From 1915 to
1918, F. W. Roe conducted a course-in the works of Emerson
and Matthew Arnold.
University of California
On the west coast, at the University of California,
W. D. Armes offered during this period three courses in
American literature— two undergraduate and one graduate
2
3
course.
Armes died in August, 1918.
From 1899 to 1918 he
had devoted considerable attention at California to the field
of our literature.
In the announcement for 1911-12 the sub4
ject was given separate listing.
West Virginia University
Between 1910 and 1918 West Virginia University car-
1.
2.
3.
4.
University of Wisconsin, Catalogues 1910-1918.
(See
Catalogue 1905-06, pp. 172, 175 for basic offerings)
University of California, Register 1909-10 (1 0 - 1 1 ),
pp. 78-79.
Armes held the title of Associate Profes­
sor of American Literature (p. 70).
University of California, President's Report 1918-19,
p • 196 •
University of California, Register 1910-11 (11-12),
Pt. II, p. 79.
227
Tied forward tlie vigorous work in the subject that had been
begun by R. A. Armstrong in 1898#
The most extensive offer­
ing was in 1912-15— a survey course, "Types of American Fic­
tion," and a course dealing with the works of Emerson.'*' The
2
Emerson course was given by Waitman Barbe and the other two
by Armstrong.
Another course, "Nature Study in the Poets,"
given by J. H. Cox, included the works of Bryant and Lowell.
After this year, however, courses began to alternate and
there was slightly less attention given to American litera­
ture.
In 1916-17 a forward-looking course, "Current Periodi-
cal Literature," was added.
University of South Dakota
Late in the preceding decade (1900-1910) the Univer­
sity of South Dakota began to offer a relatively strong cur­
riculum in American literature.
This work was pushed forward
4
by Genevieve Blair who had come to the department in 1899.
By 1917 it comprised a basic survey course, an advanced course
In American prose writers, and another advanced course in
5
American poets— these last two alternating.
In addition,
1.
2•
3.
4.
5.
best Virginia University, Catalogue 1911-12 (12-13),
pp. 82-83.
L o c . c i t.
West Virginia University, Catalogue 1915-16 (16-17),
p. 95.
See University of South Dakota, Catalogue 1899-1900,
pp. 5, 18.
University of South Dakota, Catalogue 1915-16 (16-17),
p. 14.
228
three other courses given by Grace Burgess^ (not to be con­
fused with Julia Burgess of Oregon) included American materi­
al— "British and American Folklore," "The British and American Short Story," and "British and American Travel Literature."
Other Institutions
Other institutions offering vigorous and definite
work in American literature during the period 1910-1918 were
the following: Indiana (A. J. Sembower, F. C. Senour), Kansas
(E, M. Hopkins), Leland Stanford (A, G. Newcomer, H. J. Hall),
Mississippi (D. H. Bishop) , Missouri (H. M. Belden, F, M.
Tisdell), Northwestern (C. DeW. Hardy, F. B. Snyder), Baylor
(L. W. Courtney), Cornell
(F. C. Prescott), Illinois
(II. G.
Paul), Nebraska (Louise Pound), North Dakota (V. P. Squires),
Pittsburgh, Smith (Elizabeth Hanscom), Southern California
(P. S. Wood, Odell Shepard).
Graduate Work
The graduate offering in the field of American litera­
ture increased considerably during the period 1910-1918.
Against 16 institutions offering graduate study in American
literature during the previous decade (1900-1910) for 1910-
1.
2.
University of South Dakota, Catalogue 1915-16 (16-17) ,
p. 116. Grace Eugenie Burgess, A. B. University of
South Dakota, 1908; A. M ., ibid., 1909.
University of South Dakota, Catalogue 1915-16 (16-17),
pp. 116-117.
2
229
1918 there can be ranged 24.
In
8
of these, the graduate
courses were definitely restricted,'
and in 2 more
(Chicago,
Harvard) the work was aligned "primarily'’ for graduate
students.
In the other institutions the courses were open
to undergraduates.
1
* California (1910-18)
California Literature
(W. D. Armes)
Chicago (1910-18)2
(1) Early (2) Century (3) Studies
(P. H. Boynton)
3
Cincinnati (1917-18)
English and American Poetry Since 1890
(H. M. Cummings)
4
Columbia (1911-18)
Studies
(J. Erskine, C. Van Doren, W. P. Trent)
5
Cornell (1910-18)
American Literature
(P. C. Prescott)
6
Harvard (1910-18 alternating)
Topics
(Bliss Perry, C. N. Greenough, B. Wendell)
* Illinois (1914-18 alternating)^
Problems (H, G. Paul)
8
Indiana (1915-18)
Special Studies
(C. J. Sembower)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
.
7.
6
8
.
University of California Register 1909-10 (10-11),
p . 79.
University of Chicago, Catalogue 1912-13 (13-14), p. 225.
University of Cincinnati, Catalogue 1917-18, p. 117.
Columbia University, Catalogues 1911-12, p. 106; 1915-16,
p. 1 1 1 .
Cornell University, Catalogue 1914-15, p. 75.
Harvard University, Catalogue 1910-11.
University of Illinois, Catalogue 1911-12, pp. 356-357;
1914-15, p. 330. Work in American literature could
be undertaken toward a Ph. D.; examinations for the
M. A. in English included American material.
University of Indiana, Catalogue 1914-15 (15-16), p. 129.
230
1
Kansas (1910-18)
American Literature
(E. M, Hopkins)
2
Leland Stanford (1913-18)
American Poetry
(W. H. Carruth)
Maine (1910-18)3
Victorian-English & American (R. P. Cray)
4
Montana (1915-16)
Advanced American Literature
5
New Mexico (1917-18)
American Literature
(P. P. Sherwin)
6
Oklahoma (1910-18)
Special Studies
(Adelaide Loomis)
7
# Pennsylvania (1905-06)
Forms and Movements
(A. H. Quinn)
* Pittsburgh (1913-18; omitted 2 years)^
Emerson (E. B, Burgum, L. J. Heath)
9
Southern California (1913-18)
American Literature
,
Texas (1910-18 alternating)
American Poetry
11
Tulane (1912-13)
Modern Fiction
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
f
8 .’
9.
10.
11.
10
University of Kansas, Catalogue 1909-10 (10-11), p, 158.
Leland Stanford University, Catalogue 1913-14, p. 110.
University of Maine, Catalogue 1909-10, p. 89.
Montana State University, Catalogue 1914-15 (15-16), p. 84.
University of New Mexico, Catalogue 1916-17 (17-18), p. 71.
University of Oklahoma, Catalogue 1908-09 (09-10), p. 78.
University of Pennsylvania (See Letter: Arthur Hobson
Quinn.
Page 199, Note 16)
University of Pittsburgh, Catalogue 1913-14, p. 118.
University of Southern California, Catalogue 1912-13
(13-14), p. 89.
University of Texas, Catalogues 1903-04, p. 71; 1915-16,
p . 32.
Tulane University, Catalogue 1912-13, p. 92.
231
1
■* Washington (1915-18)
Studies
(V. L. Parrington)
2
Washington & Lee (1917-18)
American Literature
3
Western Reserve (1916-18)
American Literature
(M. G. Hill)
4
■w Wisconsin (1910-18)
American Literature
(W. B. Cairns)
Yale (1910-18; omitted 2 years )5
New England ’Writers
(H. A, Beers)
The increase in strength of graduate offerings in
American literature is evident and not merely in considera­
tion of the greater number of institutions engaged in such
work during this period.
Instead of spasmodic courses, of­
fered for only a year or two (the situation prevailing be­
tween 1890 and 1910), universities were now consistently pro­
viding year-after-year courses on the graduate level.
(See
■*!
California, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Illinois,
Indiana, Kansas, Leland Stanford, Maine, Oklahoma, Pennsyl­
vania, Texas, 'Washington, Wisconsin, Yale)
The "Topics,"
"Seminar," "Problems," or "Special Studies" course was the
most prevalent, indicating an intensive, scholarly approach
to the subject.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Restricted courses had increased in number.
University of Washington, Catalogue 1915-16, p. 132.
Washington & Lee University, Catalogue 1917, p. 105.
Western Reserve University, Catalogue 1916-17, p. 169.
University of 'Wisconsin, Catalogue 1903-04, p. 128; see
also 1910-11.
Yale University, Catalogue 1913-14, p. 184.
232
Finally, American literature as a graduate study was
attracting the attention of men of scholarly distinction.
Notable among them were Percy Holmes Boynton, Carl Van Doren,
John Erskine, William Peterfield Trent, Chester Noyes Greenough, Bliss Perry, Arthur Hobson Quinn, E. B. Burgum, William
B, Cairns, Henry Augustin Beers, and Vernon Louis Parrington.
Similarly, the general prestige of great institutions
had aligned itself with serious scholarly work in American
literature.
Notable exceptions are few, among them Princeton,
Virginia, and Johns Hopkins.
General Status of American Literature 1910-1918
An overview of the institutions working most keenly
and extensively in the field of American literature reveals
during the years 1910-1918 an aspect not before apparent— one
geographic area of the United States was engaging more heavily
than any other in the teaching of the subject.
The two insti­
tutions offering the most work in the subject were in the
Northwest-“the University of Washington and the University of
Oregon; and of those offering more than one course, 16 out of
28 were in the far or middle 'West.
In the East, Harvard, Yale,
Columbia, Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania State were important,
but mainly through the prestige and vigor of individual teach­
ers (Wendell, Matthews, Beers, Phelps, Quinn, Pattee) rather
than through the institutional policy or extensive offering
of courses.
233
The list of institutions dropping or diminishing the
work in American literature during these years includes only
3 Middle Western universities against
8
in the South and East.
Again, in comparison with institutions of other clas­
sification, the state universities are more heavily repre­
sented in the growth of the teaching of American literature
at this time.
Only 2 state universities (Alabama and Ohio
University) dropped or diminished American literature; the
list of most favorable institutions includes only
6
which were
privately supported.
Thus it may be reasonably stated that during the
period 1910-1918 American literature found its proponents, on
the whole, most strongly active in the state universities and
in the institutions of the Middle and Far West.
Certain general tendencies are observable in the
types of courses through which American literature was pre­
sented.
The combination c ourses— American literature offered
as a part of a mixed course--declined in number.
The "Rhet­
oric and American Literature" course appeared at only 2 inst'i1
2
tutions— South Carolina and Virginia.
Aunerican Oratory was
- 3
offered at Northwestern University from 1915 to 1922. Dur­
ing the period 1900-10 there had been 13 institutions offering
American literature in combination with rhetoric or oratory.
1.
2.
3.
University of South Carolina, Catalogue 1914-15, p. 51.
University of Virginia, Catalogue 1916-17, pp. 134-135.
Northwestern University, Catalogue 1914-15, p. 136.
234
Similarly, the "English and American Literature" combination
course was in a decline; between 1910-1918 only
6
institutions
(Arizona,'*' Georgia,^ St. Lawrence ,'*5 Syracuse,^ Trinity ,**5
g
William & Mary ) now offered such a course in comparison with
10
during the previous decade.
Comments
At least one article was published between 1910 and
1918 which directly considered the place of American litera­
ture in the college curriculum.
In 1916, Carl Holliday of
the University of Montana mentioned the fact that the subject
7
was beginning to find some slight recognition.
His estimate
of the regional distribution of emphasis on the subject par­
allels the findings reported above.
The Far West and the
South, he states, are turning toward American subject matter—
possibly, he suggests, for lack of any other material for
purposes of basic research.
He mentions the collection of
American magazines and newspapers at the University o f W i s -
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
University of Arizona, Catalogue 1909-10 (10-11), p. 74.
University of Georgia, Catalogue 1910-11 (11-12), p. 6 8 .
St. Lawrence University, Catalogue 1911-12, p. 46.
Syracuse University, Catalogue 1916-17, p. 77.
Trinity College, Catalogue 1910-11, p. 63.
College of William 5: Mary, Catalogue 1911-12 (12-13),
p. 52.
(Also "Critical study of Edgar Allan Poe,
Sidney Lanier and other Southern writers; parallel
reading in American literature; essays." p. 53)
Carl Holliday, A Need in the Study of American Litera­
ture, School and Society, IV (August 5, 1916) ,
pp. 2 2 0 -2 2 2 .
235
consin and the efforts being made by Southern universities
and libraries to collect and preserve local records and other
historical and literary materials.
He states
(inaccurately)
that "The University of Virginia has the distinction, I believe,
of possessing the only professorship of American literature
in the United States— the Edgar Allan Poe Chair."'1' He reports
that the universities of Wisconsin, Washington, and Montana
are placing considerable emphasis upon American literature —
that the majority of masters 1 theses at Montana "during the
last three years" have been in the field of American literature.
The East, he says, is paying least attention to the subject,
though he includes mention of a dissertation on American fic­
tion at Columbia.
He goes on to stress the need for inexpensive reprints
of early American literature and the general importance, in
this democracy, of knowing "what the founders of the greatest
experiment in nationalism ever attempted, were thinking two
p
centuries ago.""
Holliday’s article is introduced by a reference to an
1.
2.
Holliday, ojo. cit., p. 221. Cf. Philip Alexander Bruce,
History of the University of Virginia (1818-1919) ,
Vol. V, p. 129.
This foundation was the "Edgar Allan Poe School of Eng­
lish Literature" and it was not in any sense a
"professorship of American literature," though C.
Alphonso Smith, its first professor, taught American
literature and was interested in its development as
a college subject,
Holliday, ojo. cit., p. 222.
236
article by Percy Holmes Boynton of the University of Chicago.
(See Page 218)
In this article Boynton mentioned with regret
the indifference of American colleges and universities toward
American literature and urged correction of this error.
Another article appearing during this period may in­
directly have encouraged work in American literature in col­
leges, though its appeal is by no means so direct as Holli­
day's.
’
W riting in Harper's Magazine Henry Seidel Ganby
praised current American literature and stated the crying
need, as he conceived it, in the development of American letters
— a sound school of American literary criticism and an intelli2
gent and receptive American audience.
The implication is clear
and he states it clearly: it is the business of the colleges
to provide the school of criticism and the necessary intelli­
gent audience.
The attitude that was gaining in strength during this
decade is well expressed by John Calvin Metcalf of Richmond
College (University of Richmond) in the introduction to his
textbook on American literature (1914):
We are beginning to realize at last that Ameri­
can literature is not merely an off-shoot from
1.
2.
Percy Holmes Boynton, American Neglect of American Lit­
erature, Nation, CII, No. 2653 (May 4, 1916),
pp. 478-480.
Henry Seidel Canby, Current Literature and the Colleges,
Harper1s Magazine, CXXXI (July, 1915), p. 236
(pp. 230-236).
237
English literature, hut that it is in a larger
and truer sense a record of national traits and
strivings for at least a century and a quarter.
Even the Colonial and Revolutionary periods, in
which no great literature was produced, are ex­
ceedingly important as background for the proper
estimate of our later literature and should not
be neglected by the serious student of American
institutions.
These earlier formative periods
are also interesting in themselves for the les­
sons they teach of moral and political aspira­
tion; out of them have sprung the idealism that
shines in the pages of American history and that
makes worthy our national life of to-day...
A fuller treatment of Southern writers is to be
found in this work than in other volumes of sim­
ilar size on American literature.
In the last
decade or two the recognition of the literary
contribution of the South has steadily grown,
until the space allotted to the subject has as­
sumed respectable proportions.
This textbook is of interest for its attention to so­
cial, political, and economic backgrounds as shaping forces
in the production of literature, though (particularly In
dealing with the Southern scene) the author Is not very suc­
cessful In explaining and reconciling conflicting facts and
theories
1.
2.
John Galvin Metcalf, American Literature, pp. 3-4.
"The
Southern Writers7TT 92 pages; "The New England ¥/riters,"
109 p a ges.
"The ideals of the older South were social and political,
and the cultured class was aristocratic."
p. 255.
"Secure in his somewhat feudal state, the lord of the
manor felt a commendable pride in his ancestry and had
a firm belief in the stability of inherited social and
political traditions. He stood for the divine right
of the individual,"
p. 253.
"Indeed, strictly speaking, there was no rigid aristocracy
in the old South..." p. 256.
238
Influences Favoring Instruction in American Literature
The influences which operated to produce the rising
interest In American literature in this decade may be con­
jectured*
Two "revolts" may have worked in its favor— the
poetic revolt usually assigned to the year 1912 and the lead­
ership of Amy Lowell,"*" and the increasing results of the aca­
demic revolt overseas which had been led by John Churton Col­
lins
(See Chapter I) .
The one threw new interest upon the
home-grown product in poetry: the other encouraged those who
had already for some time advocated and taught the literature
of the common English tongue even to the exclusion of Greek
and Latin.
The gradual turning toward the literature of the
South and West may be accounted favorable to the cause of the
Americanizing of American literature; there was little temp­
tation to think of Tom Sawyer, the Outcasts of Poker Flat,
the Sea W o l f , Main-Travelled Roads, and Georgia Scenes as
English literature which happened to be written in the United
States.
Again, the books of Upton Sinclair, Frank Norris,
and Theodore Dreiser turned the American toward his own prob­
lems.
The increasing prestige of Frederick Jackson Turner's
2
historical position
was probably to some extent a shaping
force in this direction, and the influence of such positiv-
1.
2.
Van Wyck Brooks, New England: Indian Summer, Chapter XXV.
Harold Underwood Faulkner, American Political and Social
History, pp. 667, 482.
239
1 st
historians as Kippolyte Talne and Kuno Frank was another.'*'
-4
Finally, after 1914, there was the volcanic eruption of the
First World War, shaking American faith in European systems
and revealing to many Americans the imperfections of hereto­
fore idealized and romanticised European culture.
The command
"Look homeward, Angel" which American literary men had been
shouting for at least one generation took on a new and prac­
tical significance.
By 1918 several changes had taken place
in the American attitude toward European nations collectively
and individually.
The German university, judged by its fruits,
had been found wanting.
And it was hard for the most humble
American to forget that England and France, for all their
vaunted cultural superiority, had been saved from utter destruc­
tion only by the force of American arms.
In brief, the line of thought that had been set in
motion with the sudden shattering of the Spanish Empire in
1898 broadened and flowed to a logical conclusion.
With all
its faults, and with all its short-comings this United States
of America was a great nation.
Was it not possible that its
literature was a great literature?
Was it not advisable and
necessary that its present be appraised and that its past be
re-examined?
1
.
See George R. Cerveny, A Study of Vernon Louis Parrington *s
Method of Literary Criticism: Its Origin, Its Content,
Its Influence (Thesis, Ph. D. New York University, 1938).
240
Summary; 1890-1918
In the years between 1890 and the close of the First
World War American literature became established as a subject
for study in the great majority of American colleges and un i ­
versities.
In general Its emphasis was of three degrees:
the least of these was represented In the institutions in
which an alternating ("every other y e ar ") course was offered;
the next degree was marked by a single course offered every
year; and a third degree of emphasis was marked by a single
(usually a survey) course given every year plus a more a d ­
vanced course, frequently available for graduate credit.
More extensive work than this was offered by a few institu­
tions, the universities of Washington and Oregon leading b y a
wide margin.
and Oregon):
Prominent in the field were (beside Washington
the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania
State, Chicago, Harvard, Brown, Columbia, Wisconsin, Califor­
nia, West Virginia, and South Dakota.
Important teachers of
American literature in these years were Barrett ’Wendell, C. N.
Greenough, Bliss Perry, Vernon Louis Parrington, W. B. Cairns,
Walter Bronson, Lorenzo Sears (first to hold the title of
professor of American literature), Fred Lewis Pattee, Arthur
Hobson Quinn, Percy Holmes Boynton, Brander Matthews, Carl
Van Doren, Henry A Beers, Ernest Sutherland Bates, R. A.
Armstrong.
Graduate work in American literature began to obtain
241
a foothold during this period; the University of Virginia
offered work in American literature accountable for the d e ­
grees of M. A. and Ph. D. early in the period.
During the
years 1910-1918 at least 28 institutions were engaged in
graduate instruction in the field— a remarkable advance from
the beginning of the period whe n— as Alfred N. Hitchcock has
related--graduate courses in the subject were hard to find.
It cannot be positively asserted that Philology and
linguistic study directly interfered with the teaching of
American literature; the purely aesthetic critique of what
constitutes literature (inclined to exclude non-bellestristic
productions) probably limited the American field and rendered
«
it less interesting in these years.
In several institutions— notable the University of
Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State, Wisconsin, Brown, Oregon,
and West Virginia--a strong tradition favoring American lit­
erature was in process of establishment during this period.
Great variety of courses was not common in these
years.
The most clearly observable movement was toward in­
troduction of courses in institutions hitherto without Ameri­
can literature, and the internal expansion of courses already
in existence.
Combination courses declined In frequency.
Increasing Interest in social and historical backgrounds is
notable in course announcements, the ”development of American
thought” approach becoming observable.
The following tabulation indicates, on the basis of
242
separate courses in American literature by institutions, the
progress of the subject during this period:
1890-1891:
26 institutions
1899-1900:
57
"
1909-1910:
90
"
1917-1918:
98
"
In comparison with the expansion of English litera­
ture offerings in American institutions, the advance of
American literature courses is not impressive; but in terms
of its own humble beginnings, the study of American litera­
ture shows notable headway.
The influences producing this increase were probably:
the growing national wealth, operating through increasing en­
rollments and endovmients; the interest in the subject in
secondary schools; the increasing vigor of American litera­
ture itself; the rising interest of Americans in the back­
grounds of the United States and in its immediate problems;
the increasing pride of nationality, partly at least as a r e ­
sult of the Spanish-American and First World War.
243
SEPARATE COURSES IN AMERICAN LITERATURE:
Alabama
Antioch
Arizona
Arkansas
Bates
Baylor
Boston
ir Brown
Buclcnell
* California
* Chicago
Cincinnati
#/ Colby
Colgate
-:c- Colorado
Columbia
Cornell
Dartmouth
#/ Delaware
DePauw
Dickinson
Drury
Florida
Franklin & Marshall
George Washington
Georgetown
* Georgia
Goucher
Hampden-Sydeny
Harvard
#/ Heidelberg
Hobart
Howard University
Idaho
- Illinois
# Indiana
Johns Hopkins
Kansas
Kentucky
*■ Leland Stanford
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Miami University
Michigan
// Middlebury
# Minnesota
Mississippi
x Missouri
Montana
M t . Holyoke
Nebraska
# Nevada
New Hampshire
New Mexico
# New York Univ.
C. C. N. Y.
North Carolina
Northwestern
Oberlin
Ohio University
Ohio State
Oklahoma
# Oregon
Pennsylvania
Penn. State
More than one course
/ Alternating course
# Given 1918-19
1917-1918
Pittsburgh
Purdue
Richmond
Rochester
Rutgers
St.
*
*
*
#/
/
J o h n 1s
Smith
South Dakota
So. California
Swarthmore
Syracuse
Temple
Tennessee
Texas
Trinity
Tufts
Tulane
Utah
Vanderbilt
Vassar
Vermont
Virginia
Univ. of 'Washington
Washington Univ.
Washington & Lee
Wellesley
W. Virginia
Western Reserve
Williams
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Yale
CHAPTER IV
EXPANSION, SOLIDIFICATION, REFINEMENT: 1918-1938
Introduction
In Chapter IV the development of American literature
is traced through the years since the First World War.
In
particular, the rise of new types of courses is described,
and relationships between the latter part of the earlier
period (1890-1918) and the earlier part of this latest period
(1918-1938) are shown.
In these years, articles appearing in periodicals
become very important to any study of the development of
American literature in colleges both as evidence of the
alignments of contemporary thought on the subject and as
sidelights on the condition and estate of American literature
in the curricula of the time.
Accordingly these articles
are reported in some detail.
Some attempt has been made to suggest possible rela­
tionships between the forces arising out of the First World
War, and Instruction In American literature.
No definite
connections have been noted however; insufficient time has
elapsed to permit a satisfactory perspective or accurate
estimate of such connections and other social pressures in
our times.
244
245
Background
From the point of view of educational and social
institutions the period 1918-1938 appears in the main as a
time of continuation of influences which had been under way
for some time.
But these influences were accelerated.
The
First World Vv'ar— from its outbreak in 1914, through the
period of American participation (beginning technically in
1917 but spiritually considerably earlier) to the climax in
1918— had somewhat the expansive effect upon American morale
already noted for the Civil War, and in this general movement
the teaching of American literature seems to have been involved.
On the historical side, the opening of a new
century, the realization that the nineteenth
century was over and done w it h and that the
twentieth century gave its inhabitants a van­
tage point from which to view America’s past,
and the intellectual and philosophical oriente.tion forced upon Americans by the experi­
ence of the World War, stimulated the reinter­
pretation of American literature. The produc­
tion of a very considerable number of fulllength histories of that literature, based upon
the lively researches of countless graduate
students and scholars, brought fresh evaluations
of the clay-footed giants of America's Victorian
era, and replaced such elementary and jejune his­
tories as Rueben P. Halleck's, Charles P. John­
son's, and John S. Hart's.
The increase in the
number and size of graduate schools in American
universities, particularly in the Middle West,
where the dead hand of New England Brahminism
was not felt, meant the application to the
study of American literature of those methods
of scientific investigation hitherto reserved
for the tenth-rate poets of the Middle Ages or
the minor dramatists of the Renaissance. Ameri­
can literature might be an ill-favored thing,
246
but it was our own, and the twentieth century has
seen an almost excessive amount of energy and in­
telligence devoted to major and minor figures in
our literary p a s t .
Aside from the influence of the World War toward
fresh impetus to national pride (and thus to the national
literature and its teaching) American literature as a college
subject derived aid and comfort from other sources.
By 1918 significant changes had taken place in the
American literary scene itself and the changes were encourag­
ing to those who were interested in the teaching of American
literature.
The interregnum between the last of the great
nineteenth century writers and the first of their twentieth
century successors— which Van Wyck Brooks assigns peculiarly
to New England (New England: Indian Summer) but which appears
to have been national or even international in extent— had
passed and the new crop of literary figures (many of whom had
begun work in the ‘nineties) had begun to reach the attention
of the universities.
The results of the poetic revolt of
1912 had, by 1918, begun to percolate into university circles,
and courses in Contemporary Poetry, Drama, and Prose were the
product.
Demand (on the part of students, under an ever-
expanding elective system) worked hand-in-hand with supply as
poets and literary men turned more and more toward teaching
1.
Fred B. Millett, Contemporary American Authors, op. 181182.
247
as a means of earning a livelihood.
The line between the
scholar, the teacher, and the producer of literature became
less and less firmly drawn— greatly to the profit of Ameri1
can literature in the colleges and universities .
Coincidentally with this change of situation, one
of the chief objections to the extensive teaching of American
literature was in process of disappearance.
Since the days
of the Edinburgh Review 1s jibe— "Who Reads an American Book?" —
it had been objected that American literature was not suffi­
cient either in bulk or intrinsic artistic quality to warrant
serious consideration.
By 1918 such an objection had ceased
to be impressive, and its validity became less an d less as
the next two decades passed.
The poetry of Edwin Arlington
Robinson, Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Amy Lowell,
Edgar Lee Masters, Conrad Aiken, and Carl Sandburg was of sufj
ficient merit to stand on its own, not merely in an American
but also in a universal judgment.
The American novel had sim­
ilarly achieved general recognition, and in the field of the
short story American literary men had established a place
second to none.
The powerful dramas of Eugene 0 TNeill were be ­
ginning to make their impression upon America and upon the
whole literary world 0
There was thus being build up during
the period 1918-1938 a powerful and extensive literature in
1.
See Fred Lewis Pattee, The Old Professor of English: An
Autopsy, Tradition and Jaz z.
248
the United States, strong in its own artistic right and
thoroughly and unmistakably American in scene, spirit, and
technique.
Main Street, Babbitt, An American Tragedy, A
Lost Lady, 'Winesburg Ohio, John Brown1s Body, The Grapes of
W ra th , The Yearling, Lamb in His Bosom, M a m b a 1s Daughters,—
to select a few titles at random— here indeed was "the run­
ning stag...the American thing."
Things were happening in
the American literary scene that could not have happened (and
could hardly have been understood) elsewhere.
On the quantitative side, American literature courses
shared to an extent the expansion that took place in the Amer­
ican college and university; in particular the English litera­
ture offerings were vastly expanded during this period.
Schol­
arship in the field of English literature was at least as
strongly represented in American colleges and universities as
in England or on the Continent.
In every department of English
scholarship the United States had its experts.
In their re­
spective fields these were acknowledged savants— George Lyman
Kittredge, John Matthews Manly, Frederick Tupper, Chauncey
Brewster Tinker, John Livingston Lowes, Irving Babbitt, Ernest
Schelling, John Duncan Spaeth, Bliss Perry, F. N. Robinson,
P. H. Boynton.
This expansion and improvement in American collegiate
education and scholarship was a concommitant of the increas­
ing wealth of the United States.
Philanthropy had found the
249
American college and university a satisfying object and had
turned to it the flow of wealth that had, in older civiliza­
tions, gone to religious establishments.
By 1938-1939, 133
institutions had endowments of more than two million dollars
each; of these, 33 had endowments in excess of ten million
dollars, and 14 had endowments above twenty million dollars.^
In at least one instance philanthropy directly improved the
field for American literature.
Through the advice of Percy
Holmes Boynton the children of Gustavus Swift made possible
the assembling of an impressive "American ’1 library at Chicago. 2
Other collections of American literary materials— an absolute
necessity for effective and productive graduate wo rk — were
made possible during this period.
These elements in the changing American scene between
1918 and 1938 may serve in part to account for the general
rise in the teaching of American literature in colleges and
universities to the position attained in that period.
That
the subject had not attained even greater academic stature by
that year may be explained as the influence of earlier forces
whose power still lingered--institutional lag, failure to
appreciate American literature, and demands of other expand­
ing subjects such as Education, Social Studies, Science, Jour­
2.
3.
World Almanac t 1940, p. 574.
Information furnished by Percy Holmes Boynton.
See Norman Foerster, T h e Reinterpretation of American
Literature (Appendix) .
250
nalism, Home Economics, and Psychology.
(See Page 316)
No
important decrease in offering is observable for the years
immediately following the depression of 1929, though expan­
sion was probably checked to some extent by the increasing
financial pressure upon institutions in those years.
The Rising Tide of American Literature: 1918-1958
The situation of American literature in colleges and
universities immediately after the First World War was not
remarkably different from what it had been before.
The tem­
porary displacements of the war years seem to have been re­
paired quickly, and, judging by catalogue announcements, the
exigencies of the brief crisis caused, immediately after it
had passed, hardly a ripple on the surface of the college
world.
One announcement suggests that the period of stress
may have been not without benefit to the study of American
literature.
In 1918-1919, Wesleyan University, which had
listed no work in the subject since 1912-1913, stated "During
the first term of 1918-1919 the courses of instruction were
modified to conform to the requirements of the Student Army
Training Corps ."1
Among the S. A. T. C. courses listed appears
2
"American Ideals in American Literature,"
and as a continua-
1.
2.
Wesleyan University, Catalogue 1918-19, p. 54.
Ibid., p. 105.
251
tion of this course there appears also "Studies in New Eng­
land Literature.”1
In 1919-1920 the institutions showing the most con­
siderable work in American literature were the ones, in
general, which had been similarly prominent in the decade
before.
Chicago, Oregon, University of Washington, and West
Virginia displayed the greatest variety and extent of offer­
ing; the following were the next 14 in work in this field:
Baylor, Columbia, Cornell, Illinois, Indiana, New Hampshire,
Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State, Pittsburgh, South Dakota,
Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, Temple.
A comparison with the "preferred list" of institu­
tions for the years 1910-1918 reveals that the following were
no longer of relatively high status in their offerings in
American literature: Northwestern, Leland Stanford, Missouri,
Mississippi, and Yale.
This represented, however, a mere
"paper loss" of emphasis; each of the institutions continued
courses of about the same strength after as before 1939; the
general level of offerings in American literature had risen,
producing a relative loss in these.
New institutions on this preferred list were the
following: Illinois, Cornell, New Hampshire, South Dakota,
Temple, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Texas, Baylor and (in
1.
Wesleyan University, Catalogue 1918-19, p. 68.
252
1919-1920)
Pennsylvania State.
Each of these shows an
increase in American literature offerings within a year or
two after the close of the First World War; all were high
on the "secondary list" also in the years 1910-1918.
Chicago, Washington, Oregon, Columbia, and West
Virginia— strong in the eight years before 1919— were all
maintaining their position in 1919-1920.
By 1919-1920 only a few institutions show complete
or almost complete neglect of American literature in their
announcements.
American literature received only inciden­
tal attention (in such courses as "composition— American
models" or "English and American Poetry") at this date in
the following institutions: Charleston, Hamilton, St. Law­
rence, South Carolina, Tulane, ’Williams.
In 1919-1920 the
following appear, from their announcements, to have assigned
no attention to the subject: Duke, Hampden-Sydney, Haverford,
Howard College, Lafayette, Notre Dame, St. Louis, University
of the South, Washington & Jefferson, Bowdoin (two years only) .
Survey Courses
At this point
(1919-1920) in the development of Ameri­
can literature as a college subject the typical course was
the survey— the only course in the subject in 49 institutions
and the basic course in the institutions on the "preferred
list" mentioned above.
The following institutions announced
a general survey course as their sole offering in the field in
253
1918-1919 or 1919-1920: Antioch, Arizona, Barnard, Boston,
Dartmouth, Dickinson, Drury, Franklin & Marshall, George­
town, Georgia, George Washington, Heidelberg, Howard Univer­
sity, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New
Mexico, North Dakota, Oberlin, Ohio State, Randolph-Macon
(Men's College), Rutgers, Syracuse, Southern California,
Tennessee, Union, Utah, Vermont, Washington & Lee, Wyoming,
The following offered a course which was basically a survey
but which, judging from its announcement was to some extent
sociological in alignment: Bates, Hobart, Idaho, Iowa, Ken­
tucky, Mississippi, Missouri, M t , Holyoke, Nebraska, College
of the City of New York, Princeton, St. John's College,
Trinity, Vanderbilt, Vassar, Washington University.
In the
following Institutions the basically survey course in Ameri­
can literature was announced as placing particular emphasis
upon a single phase of the field: Alabama (New England and
Southern writers), Nevada (since 1850), Ohio University
(since 1870), Purdue (19th century), Swarthmore (19th century).
The following institutions announced along with the basic
survey course one other course in the subject: Delaware, Kan­
sas, Oklahoma, Smith, Tufts, Brown, Harvard, Minnesota, North­
western, Western Reserve, Miami, Wellesley.
Additional Courses
The following institutions in 1919-1920 were offering
a basic course (usually an historical survey) plus more than
254
one additional course in American literature— the criterion
for inclusion on the "preferred list" above: Baylor, Chicago,
Coliimbia, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State, Pitts­
burgh, Illinois, Indiana, Washington, West Virginia, Wiscon­
sin, Cornell, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Texas, Vriginia,
Temple.
It is thus safe to assert that between the years 19191920 and 1928-1929 a considerable Increase took place in the
teaching of American literature in colleges and universities.
During that period the increase— in introduction of separate
American literature courses where no American literature as
such had been given before, and in expansion of courses al­
ready offered--far exceeded the few slight decreases.
The
following institutions show expanded announcements in Ameri­
can literature between 1919-1920 and 1928-1929: Brown, Chicago,
Columbia, George Washington, Harvard, Iowa, Louisiana, Middlebury, Minnesota, New York University, Northwestern, Pennsylva­
nia, Pennsylvania State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Carolina,
Southern California, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Antioch,
Amherst, Boston, Bryn Mawr, Bucknell, Buffalo, Colby, Colo­
rado, Dartmouth, Goucher, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas,
Kentucky, Leland Stanford, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, M i s ­
souri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, College of the City
of New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio
University,
Richmond, St. John's College, Syracuse, Tennessee, Vermont,
Williams, Yale.
255
Minor Diminishment
The list of institutions without distincly American
literature courses was shrinking; of these the following
introduced American literature courses between 1919-1920
and 1928-1929: Duke, Hamilton, Haverford, Howard College,
Lafayette, Notre Dame, ft. Louis, University of the South,
South Carolina, Washington & Jefferson, Williams.
mained, thus, in 1928-1929 only
6
There re­
institutions which did not
announce a separete course in American literature: Charleston,
Emory (restored 1930-1931), St. Lawrence, Tulane, Hampden-Sydney,
Johns Hopkins, Union.
And in all these, American letters re­
ceived a modicum of attention In combination or types courses.
Static Institutions
During the period 1919-1929 the following institutions
remained approximately static in their American literature
offerings: Eaylor, Washington (both already very strong), Ala­
bama, Amherst, Arizona, Arkansas, Charleston (no separate
course), Colgate, Cornell, DePauw, Dickinson, Florida, Frank­
lin & Marshall, Georgia, Georgetown, Hampden-Sydney, Hobart,
Maryland, Miami, Mt. Holyoke, Nevada, Oberlin, Ohio State,
Oklahoma, Purdue, Randolph-Kacon (Men's College), St. Lawrence
(no separate course), Smith, Swarthmore, Trinity, Tufts, Utah,
Vanderbilt (?), Vassar, Virginia, Washington University, Wash­
ington & Lee, Wellesley, Wesleyan, Wyoming.
Except for the
3 noted as offering no American courses, most of these insti-
256
tutions had "pegged"
their American literature work at one
coarse, usually a three-or six-hour survey.
Thus a definite
though modest offering in the field was being established
as a regular course, and a base was being laid in these insti­
tutions for more extensive and advanced work.
Finor Variations
Except at Johns Hopkins, Tulane, and Union (mentioned
above) there was no marked decrease in American literature
offerings during this period.
At Oregon a temporary decrease
appears to have taken place with the announcement for 19231924, but in the next y e a r ’s announcement the American litera­
ture component returned to the high status observable for 19191920 and continued at this high level (to 1939).
California
shows a similar diminishment in the announcement for 1924-1925,
and a "return to normal"
in the following year.
Tennessee
was without distinctly American literature offering from 1921
until 1926, for which year a fairly strong series of courses
(three one-quarter courses) were announced.
American courses from 1920 until 1925.
in the subject from 1919 until 1921.
Bates was without
Bowdoin lacked a course
Delaware dropped a course
in Emerson in 1924-1925 but continued a basic survey of Ameri­
can literature in alternate years.
At Cincinnati and Drury
American literature appeared as an intermittent course only.
Emory dropped its course in the announcement for 1926-1927,
not restoring it until 1930-1931.
Couth Dakota dropped two
257
courses
(of a strong, four-course offering)
in 1925-1926 and
restored the work to earlier status in the next year.
In
the Princeton announcements American literature (Emerson and
Whitman)
appeared only as incidental to a course entitled
"The Romantic Movement in English Literature" from 1922 until
1927 when a distinctly American course--"Main Currents in
American Literature"— was introduced.
Thus omissions and de­
creases of American literature courses were, in general, only
temporary during the period 1919-1929, and even these diminishments were slight in comparison with the increases and intro­
ductions already noted.
Institutional Increases: 1918-1958
During the period 1918-1938 the chief increase in the
teaching of American literature on the college level took
place within institutions which had already engaged seriously
in work in this field.
At New York University, sound and consistent, but not
very extensive course offerings had been the rule since the
introduction of a separate course under Arthur H. Nason in
1
1906,
By 1925-1926
the American literature component had in­
creased to the extent of
1
graduate and 3 undergraduate courses
under Arthur H. Nason, Louis V/ann (an exchange professor) , and
1.
Announcements: Washington Square College, 1925-1926,
p, 352; University College, p, 213; Graduate School,
p . 385.
258
Bruce McCullough.
An undergraduate course including Amer­
ican ballads was also offered by Eda L. Walton and Mary E.
Barnicle.
In 1929-1950 courses increased to an extent ap­
proaching that of the 1938-1939 offering:
(See Pages 338-
340) three members of the faculty were now specializing in
the teaching of American literature--Arthur H. Nason, Oscar
Cargill, and N. P. Adkins.
During the summer of 1929-1930
a course in the American Drama was offered by Arthur Hobson
Quinn of the University of Pennsylvania (q.v.).
Another
professor joined the "American" faculty in this period— W.
Charvat.
This curriculum continued to increase until, by
1938-1939 (the terminal year of this study), New York Univer­
sity led American institutions in the extent of its offering
in American literature— an aggregate of something over 70
semester hours.
The University of Chicago from the time when Percy
Holmes Boynton began work in American literature there in
1905 had offered strong and consistent work in the subject.
By 1918-1919^" American literature was required of students
majoring in English and courses had increased in number until
5 full quarter courses were offered.
By 1923-1924, 4 under­
graduate and 4 graduate courses were being offered and Boynton
had been joined on the faculty by Napier Wilt, an authority
1.
University of Chicago, Catalogue
p. 207.
1917-18 (18-19),
259
on the American Theater.
In this year A. H. Quinn offered
a graduate course in the American Drama.
From that date
on, courses increased at Chicago hoth in number and variety
until by 1938-39 the University of Chicago was second only
to New York University in the extent of work in American
literature.
Its faculty in the field included, beside P. H.
Boynton, Napier Wilt, C. H. Faust, Walter Blair, F. B.
Millett, and F. H. O ’Hara,
Among others who received grad­
uate training in this field at Chicago were Perry G, E.
Miller, author of The New England Kind (1939) and professor
in the American field at Harvard; F. M. Webster, of Washing­
ton University; L. E. Mansfield, of Williams College; and
Gregory Payne of the University of North Carolina .1
Pennsylvania State College has been prominent in the
study of American letters from the beginning of Fred Lewis
2
P a t t e e ’s career there in 1894.
As early as 1914-1915, Amer­
ican literature was indexed separately in the catalogue and
the department title mentioned it coordinate with English
literature.^
In 1921-1922 Pattee’s title was Professor of
American Literature
By 1919-1920 the field Included
6
courses; in 1923-1924, undergraduate work was made up of 5
courses; and three courses, and two seminars were offered
1.
2.
3.
4.
Information furnished by Percy Holmes Boynton.
See Catalogue 1895-96, p. 127.
Pennsylvania State College, Catalogue 1914-15, p. 246.
Pennsylvania State College, Catalogue 1921-22, p. 275.
260
for graduate credit.
In 1928-1929 the American literature
curriculum reached a maximum;
3 graduate courses, and
2
8
undergraduate course titles,
graduate seminars.
At this high
level it has continued through 1938-1939, in which year work
in the American field was carried on by B. K. Merrill, V,r. L.
Werner, and A. G. Cloetingh after the retirement of Pattee.
At Harvard University, American literature courses
had been offered intermittently after the time of Barrett
'Wendell, by C. N. Greenough, Bliss Perry, and K. B. Murdock.
After 1929-19301 American courses increased in number and
consistency.
Kenneth Ballard Murdock was particularly a c­
tive in this field at this time.
By 1938-1939 (See Chapter
V) work in American literature, particularly on the graduate
level, had gone far forward.
A grouping of literary and re­
lated courses had been effected by 1937 to form a curriculum
for study and research toward the doctoral degree in the Amer2
ican field.
Teaching American literature at Harvard by 1938
were Kenneth Ballard Murdock, Howard Mumford Jones, Perry
G. E. Miller, and W. E. Sedwick.
At the University of Pennsylvania, the work in Ameri­
can literature which was begun in 1902 by A. H. Quinn moved
3
vigorously forward between 1918 and 1938. By 1931-1932,
12
1.
2.
3.
Harvard University, Catalogue 1929-30, p. 187.
See Enlightened Research, Saturday Review of Literature,
XV, (April 10, 1937), p. 8 .
University of Pennsylvania, Announcement, College of
Arts and Sciences 1931-32, pp. 85-88.
261
courses were announced, of which
6
were given in that year.
Paul H. Kusser and -Edward S. Bradley had, by this date,
joined Quinn in the American field.
From this date on very
strong offerings in American literature appear; the technique
of offering courses in relays by alternate years reduces the
statistical standing of Pennsylvania for one year (See Chapter
V), and it is only when the offering is considered for a twoyear period that its true status appears.
Work toward a doc­
toral degree in American studies similar to that available at
Harvard can be taken under the American Civilization curric­
ulum.
In the South, Duke University came forward rapidly in
American studies between 1918 and 1958.
J. B. Hubbell offered
strong work in the field there after 1928-1929;"*"
(5 courses) were reached in 1933-1934,2
a high level
When Hubbell was
joined on the faculty by Clarence Gohdes, American Literature ,
a publication devoted to scholarly articles dealing with Amer­
ican letters was founded at Luke in 1929; it has proved a
lively and stimulating vehicle for American scholarship in
American materials.
At North Carolina, Gregory Paine and R. Vv. Adams
carried forward and increased the work begun earlier by Norman
Foerster.
1.
2.
By 1938-1939 (See Chapter V) 7 American courses
Duke University, Catalogue 1927-28 (28-29), p. 21.
Duke University, Catalogue 1932-33 (33-34) , p. 87.
262
were announced.
In sheer extent of course offering, South Carolina
and Louisiana State increased work in American literature
most rapidly of any Southern institutions during the period
1918-1938*
Moving upward from a steady but modest offering
in the early years of this period, South Carolina was offer­
ing 7 courses in American literature by 1936-1937.^
The
basic survey course was, in that year, required of all soph­
omores.
Louisiana State began increasing courses after E.
-*■
2
3
S, Bradsher joined the faculty in 1922-1923,
By 1937-1938
Arlin Turner had joined Bradsher in work in American litera­
ture and by 1938-1939,
field.
8
courses were being offered in the
(See Chapter V)
Increases In the American literature field were ob­
servable between 1918 and 1938 in most of the institutions
which had been prominent in offering the subject earlier.
The following institutions, particularly after 1929, expand­
ed American literature courses so that by 1938 they had reach­
ed the high level indicated in Chapter V: Baylor, Boston,
Brown, Colgate, Colorado, Dartmouth, George Washington, Howard
University, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Notre
Dame, Ohio University, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Smith,
1.
2.
3.
University of Soiith Carolina, Catalogue 1935-36 (36-37),
pp. 109-111.
Louisiana State University, Catalogue 1921-22 (22-23), p. 178.
Louisiana State University, Catalogue 1936-37 (37-38), p. 26.
263
South. Dakota, Southern California, Texas, West Virginia,
Western Reserve, Wisconsin, and Yale.
At the University of Washington work was carried
forward at a high level after V. L. Parrington’s death in
1929 by L. Milliman, J. B. Moore, Edwin H. Eby, and Russell
Blankenskip.
In 1930-1931, 3 undergraduate courses
ters) and 2 graduate courses were offered.
(9 quar­
In 1938-1939,
students majoring in English were required to show knowledge
of the American field in their final examination."*Middlebury College, continuing a long record of accom­
plishment in American studies turned a new page in the history
of instruction of American literature when in 1923 a depart­
ment of American literature, entirely separate from the English department, was established under Wilfred E. Davison.
2
Upon Davison’s untimely death in 1929 the w o r k of the Ameri­
can department was carried forward b y Reginald L. Cook, and
by 1938 Middlebury was offering an extensive and well-balanced
series of courses in American literature.
(See Chapter V)
Development of Basic Types
The most commonly observable course 1918-1938 was
still the survey— basic in the institutions showing heavier
1.
2.
University of Washington, Catalogue 1938-39, p. 257.
Middlebury College, Catalogue 1923-24, p. 43.
264
offerings in American literature and the only course in less
favorable colleges and universities.
But course descriptions
indicate that this type of course had changed considerably
from the historical or biographical course based on a single
textbook in which it had originated in the 1870's and 1880's.
Sociological Alignment
The interest In general social backgrounds of litera­
ture which had begun to develop between 1890 and 1918 now be­
came the generally accepted mode moving toward the "History
of American Thought" type.
The following institutions show
announcements of survey courses definitely in this style:
Bates, Hobart, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Mt.
Holyoke, Nebraska, College of the City of New York, Princeton,
St. John's College, Trinity, Vanderbilt, Vassar, Washington
University, California
(Los Angeles), Chicago, Colorado,
Cornell, Dartmouth, Hamilton, Iowa, North Dakota, University
of 'Washington, Wellesley, Wesleyan, Western Reserve, Williams,
Other institutions had courses with similar emphasis no doubt;
many announcements lack sufficiently detailed course descrip­
tions to afford any basis for positive assertion.
Typical of these socially aligned survey courses are
the following:
University of Mississippi
"...the national
spirit as manifest in work of recent Amer­
ican literature."!
1.
University of Mississippi, Catalogue 1920-21, p. 57.
265
M t . Holyoke College "A study of the charac­
teristics of the most important authors
from the earliest colonial writers through
the New England group of poets and Whitman,
as illustrative of the development of Amer­
ican themes and ideas; the influence of en­
vironment and the spirit of the time in the
development of l i t e r a t u r e 1
College of the City of New York ,TAmerican
life and thought as reflected in represent­
ative writers....The influence of Puritanism
and the frontier will he noted ..."2
Princeton University "...The Literary History
of American ideals. Study of the develop­
ment and expression of American ideals in
their religious, political, cultural, and
social aspects ...."'5
Vassar College " •. .As a background for the
y e a r ’s work, about half of the first semes­
ter is given to a study of the reflection in
literature of the moving frontier and the
changing conception of democracy..."
In many institutions these courses originated between 1910
and 1918 and were, therefore, merely carried forward during
the years 1918-1938.
Vernon Louis Parrington
The Influence of the publication of Vernon Louis
Farrington's Main Currents of American Thought (Volume I) in
1927 is difficiilt to chart in any specific course announcements
5
for the years immediately following. Cerveny has shown that
1.
2.
3.
4*
5.
M t . Holyoke College, Catalogue 1919-20, p. 57.
College of the City of New York, Catalogue 1927-28, p. 170.
Princeton University, Catalogue 1919-20, p. 106.
Vassar College, Catalogue 1921-22, p. 77.
George R. Cerveny, A Study of Vernon Louis Parrington’s
Method of Literary Criticism: Its "Origin", its content,
Its Influence. "Thesis, Ph. D ., New York University, 1938.
266
Parrington ’3 influence upon the writing of textbooks for
use in both the colleges and the secondary schools was c o n ­
siderable and that he was -widely accepted as an authority
in his chosen field.
His Main Currents in American Thought
(Volumes I and II) was favorably reviewed by Percy Holmes
Boynton, Henry Seidel Canby, Kenneth Ballard Murdock, and
Fred Lewis Pattee--all prominent in the field of American
literary scholarship and teaching.
But the impression to be
gained from catalogue announcements is that his point of view
had become so widely accepted— as a result of external, nonacademic changes— by 1927 that no great change in the align­
ment of courses was felt necessary.'*'
The investigator recalls
that at Harvard (1925-1929) and at Brown (1929-1930) many
courses in English literature were presented from a sociolog­
ical point of departure but that Parrington was mentioned only
once or twice, and as an historian rather than a literary
authority.
The announcements of the following institutions
show a wording that suggests Farrington’s influence, but it is
to be noted that of these, 4 occur at a time when Main Currents
1.
See, for example, the following: Northwestern University,
Catalogue 1912-13, p. 110: "American Literature is
considered in relation to that of England and to the
underlying social and economic conditions."
Oberlin College, Catalogue 1913-14, p. 148: "American
literature from the beginning to the present day, in
its relation to American life and English literature,
with emphasis upon underlying economic and social
conditions."
267
in American Thought had not yet been published.
Indiana University (1919-1920)
"Current
Thought in American Literature. 1
Middlebury College''*' (1925-1924)
"American
Literature— A study of the main currents
of literary thought in America..."^
Amherst College (1925-1926)
"American Lit­
erature— The formation of the American
mind under the influence of Puritanism
and the Frontier ...."3
University of Wyoming (1926)
"Modern Litera­
ture— A survey of the chief currents of
American and European thought during the
past forty years ..*"4
Princeton University (1926-1927)
"Main
Currents in American Literature ."3
Parrington*s influence seems somewhat more likely in
the following course announcements since they have appeared at
a later date than his Main Currents in American Thought:
Harvard University (1929-1930)
"English and
g
American Thought and Expression 1700-1800."
1.
■w
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Indiana University, Catalogue 1919-20, p. 177.
It is interesting to note that Middlebury and Amherst,
the two institutions first to state definitely the
point of view later enunciated by Parrington were
also the two earliest institutions to offer definite
courses in American literature, and that one of
these— Middlebury— has been the first American insti­
tution to set up a separate and distinct department
of American literature.
Middlebury College, Catalogue 1923-24, p. 43.
Amherst College, Catalogue 1925-26, pp. 80-81.
University of Wyoming, Catalogue 1926, p. 63.
Princeton University, Catalogue 1926-27, p. 76.
Harvard University, Catalogue 1929-30, p. 187.
268
Pennsylvania State College (1932-1933)
"Main
Currents in American Literature.
Prominent
movements in American literature in their
origin and development.. .Explanations of
some of the social, political, economic, and
religious forces which have operated In the
creation of literature in America.
Howard University (1933-1934)
"The Frontier
In American Literature. A reinterpreta­
tion of American literature In the light of
growing frontier influences ."2
Hampden-Sydney College (1935-1936)
"American
Literature. A study of the growth of Ameri­
can literature, with emphasis upon the polit­
ical, social, and economic forces that have
particularly influenced the literary develop­
ment of the nation ."3
University of Kentucky (1935-1936)
"The develop­
ment of American Realism....Especial atten­
tion is given to the social and economic con­
ditions which motivated the literature ."4
The investigator has been informed by the publishers
of the new, one-volume edition of JV-ain Currents in American
Thought that it has already been adopted by some 40 institu­
tions.
In a sense, the recent development of departments of
American Studies and American Civilization at Pennsylvania,
Harvard, Yale, and Hew York University in which American lit­
erature, history, economics, art, and related subjects may be
coordinated for a degree are the logical conclusion of Parring-
1.
2.
3.
4.
Pennsylvania State College, Catalogue 1932-33, p. 280.
Howard University, Catalogue 1933-34, p. 187.
Hampden-Sydney College, Announcement 1935-1936, for the
year ending 1935, p. 39.
University of Kentucky, Catalogue 1934-35 (35-36), p. 113.
269
ton's point of view.
The American Drama
A late comer to the field of American literature
courses on the college and university level has been the
American Drama.
Arthur Hobson Quinn of the University of
Pennsylvania writes: "In 1917-1918 I gave for the first
time anywhere a course in the American d r a m a . T h i s
state­
ment is confirmed by research.
Prom catalogue announcements it appears that other
institutions between 1918 and 1938 Introduced courses in
the American drama in the following years: Colorado
(1918-
1919), South Dakota (1918-1919), Baylor (1918-1919), New
Hampshire (1919-1920), Chicago (1920-1921), Oregon (19201921), Virginia (1921-1922), Boston (1922-1923), Washington
& Jefferson (1923-1924), Vermont (1924-195), Pittsburgh (19251926), Howard University (1926-1927), South Carolina (19261927).
Chicago presents an interesting situation showing u n ­
usual emphasis in this field; courses in the American Theatre
and in the American Drama were offered in 1924-1925 and the
years following.
The great authority in American Drama was (and is,
1941) Arthur Hobson Q.uinn, who has made the University of
Pennsylvania famous for research and training of teachers in
this field.
1.
Typical of graduate work in the American theater
Letter: 11 July 1939.
270
at Pennsylvania are the following published dissertations:
Thomas C. Pollock, The History of the Philadelphia Theatre
in the 18th Century (1953); Clement E. Foust, The Life and
Dramatic Works of Robert Montgomery Bird (1919); Harold W.
Schoenberger, American Adaptations of French Plays on the
New York and Philadelphia Stages from 1854 to the Civil War
(1930).
A. H. Quinn is advisory editor to American Litera­
ture and the author of the following basic works on the American
theater: "The Early Drama"
(in Cambridge History of American
Literature 1927); History of the American Drama from the Begin­
ning to the Civil War, 1923; History of the American Drama from
the Civil War to the Present Day (1927— Revised edition 1936)
The following institutions announce general courses
in Drama which appear to have included American plays during
this period: Louisiana
(1917-1918), Wesleyan (1919-1920), Ken­
tucky (1919-1920), Kansas (1920-1921), George Washington (19201921), St. Louis
(1920-1921), Haverford (1922-1923), Goucher
(1922-1923), Drury (1922-1923), Southern California
(1922-1923),
Colby (1923-1924), Iowa (1924-1925), 'Washington & Lee (19241925), College of the City of New York (1924-1925), North­
western (1925-1926), Texas
(1925-1926), Colgate (1926-1927),
2
Brown (1926-1927), Missouri (1927-1928).
2.
'w'ho*s Who in America, Vol. 21 (1940-1941), p. 2120.
For typical course descriptions see the following: Colby
College, Catalogue 1923-24, pp. 54-55; Goucher College,
271
The long delay in courses in the American drama may
he imputed mainly to the lack of suitable books on the sub­
ject, which in turn was caused by a lack of extensive collec­
tions of source material.
Thus it is natural that Chicago
and Pennsylvania, both with excellent collections in the field,
should take the lead.
’What is interesting is that their lead
was followed most speedily by smaller colleges and universities
rather than b y large institutions.
The increase in offerings
after 1923 suggests the influence of Professor Quinn's first
important bo o k .
The American Novel
Separate courses in the American Novel as a type of
literature have developed almost entirely since 1918.
A
limited amount of work In this field took place no doubt as an
aspect of courses in Contemporary Literature which were begin­
ning to appear between 1910 and 1918,
(See Pages 218 ff.) and
at least one American novelist, Nathaniel Hawthorne, had re­
ceived considerable attention from almost the inception of dis­
tinct work In American literature
(See Mississippi) . Again, as
early as 1912-1913"^ Professor R. A. Armstrong of V/est Virginia
University had offered "Types of American Fiction" which must
1.
Catalogue 1922-23, p. 61; Haverford College, Cata­
logue 1921-22 (22-23), p. 45; Washington & Lee Col­
lege, Catalogue 1924-25, p. 110.
West Virginia University, Catalogue 1911-12 (12-13),
p . 83.
272
have included fairly extensive consideration of the novel,
and at Oregon in the announcement for 1915-1916 a course in
the American novel is listed but indicated as "not given."
A little later at Oregon (1917-1918) a course in Contem­
porary American Fiction given by Ernest Sutherland Bates
seems to have met all needs.
Thus the novel as a type in
the United States was not altogether neglected before 1918.
So far as this research has been able to discover,
the first separate course in the American Kovel which
con­
tinued during the period was announced at the University of
New Hampshire for the year 1920-1921.^
In 1920-1921, also,
the University of Minnesota (Professor G. A. Moore, Jr.)
offered a course entitled "The American Kovel," though its
description indicates an inclusion of short story material
g
that would have made "Prose Fiction" a more accurate title.
The University of Pittsburgh (Professor J. L. Zerbe) announced
two courses in this field for 1921-1922: "The American Histor­
ical Kovel" and "The Novel and American H i s t o r y . In 19231924 Illinois offered "The Beginnings of American Fiction,
1.
2.
3.
4.
University of New Hampshire, Announcement and Register
1919-20 (20-21), p. 104.
See University of California, Catalogue 1917-18 (18-19),
p. 106.
Professor V/. D. Armes offered a course in
the American Kovel.
It was not given in the next
year, probably as a result of his death, 18 August
1918. Thus this course was probably never given.
University of Minnesota, Bulletin 1920-21, p. 74.
University of Pittsburgh, Catalogue 1921-22, pp. 81, 164.
University of Illinois, Catalogue 1923-24, p. 272.
273
and in 1925-1926 a clear-cut course in the American Novel.■*"
The years 1923-1925 saw marked extensions of offering in
the field of the American Novel.
Within those years the
following institutions introduced such courses: Illinois
(See above) , Colorado,^ Baylor ,0 Middlebury,^ Oregon,^ Southern California,
6
Wisconsin.
7
In 1925-1926, three more instip
tutions introduced distinct American Novel courses: Temple,
New York University,^ Illinois .^0
In 1927-1928 South Carolina
offered work in the American drama and novel'*''*' and in the same
year Brown introduced a course in the American Novel.
12
Delay in development of courses in the American Novel
until these years may be attributed to several conditions.
In the first place, the general institutional development of
American literature courses was not sufficiently evolved until
this time to permit many courses beyond basic surveys.
As
leeway was granted by expanding English departments, the first
step taken by the advocates of American literature was to ex-
1.
University of Illinois, Catalogue 1925-26, p. 273.
2. University of Colorado, Catalogue 1923-24 (24-25), pp. 85-87.
3. Baylor University, Catalogue 1923-24, p. 85.
4. Middlebury College, Catalogue 1923-24, p. 43.
5. University of Oregon, Catalogue 1923-24 (24-25), p. 61,
6 . University of Southern California, Catalogue 1923-24(24-25),
p . 91.
7. University of Wisconsin, Catalogue 1924-25, p. 194.
8 .
Temple University, Catalogue 1925-26, p. 87.
9. New York University, Catalogue 1925-26, p. 532 .
10.
University of Illinois, Catalogue 1925-26, p. 273.
11. University of South Carolina, Catalogue 1927-28, p. 117.
12. Brown University, Catalogue 1927-28, p. 92.
274
pand, solidify, and divide into periods the survey courses
already in their hands.
These were probably regarded as
fundamental to any sound superstructure, as a result of the
philosophy of course arrangement in British literature.
Again, college textbooks on the history of the American novel
did not begin to appear until after the First World War, and
until that time (approximately) there was a dearth of inex­
pensive editions of American novels.
Less directly traceable,
but probably germane to the development of novel courses were
the status and the development of the novel itself.
The ris­
ing tide of interest in economics, sociology, historical and
racial backgrounds, the ’.Vest, the South, and past history
which attended the years after 1918 attuned the colleges to
vibrations of thought of which the novelists had been conscious
for some time.
The experience of thousands of Americans as
combatants in a foreign land and later as more or less dislo­
cated units (both economically and socially) in their own land
must have made for a more critical attitude toward their par­
ticular brand of local culture.
American novelists had pro­
duced commentaries, the colleges discovered, which were ad h o c .
Thus the general movement which culminated in Farrington's
critique was of particular aid to the development of courses
in the American novel.
It is logical to find that Farrington
admired the work of Theodore Dreiser, Sherwood Anderson,
Sinclair Lev/is, Willa Cather, and James Branch Cabell.
It is
275
likewise logical that the colleges should have turned b a c k ­
ward from their courses in contemporary literature to earlier
prose literature dealing similarly with the social scene.
It was an easy transition from Three Soldiers
(John Dos Passos)
to The Red Badge of Courage (Stephen Crane) and to The Conver­
sion of Miss Ravenal from Secession to Loyalty (Charles de
Forrest) .
All Quiet on the Western Front is not far removed
from _In the Midst of Life (Ambrose Bierce) .
Main Street,
Elmer Gantry, and the other bitter portraits of a civilization
I
fat and kicking were easy introductions to the bitterness of
an earlier age— The Octopus, The P i t , The Iron H e e l .
Thus the colleges and universities in passage from
courses In contemporary literature— a serviceable stopgap be­
tween surveys and specialized courses— to clean-cut courses
in the American novel were in tune w i t h the needs of the times.
The very conditions which produced the sociological novel in
these years probably rendered it acceptable as material for
college courses.
The American Short Story
Like the novel, the American short story had received
incidental attention in survey courses and contemporary lit­
erature courses since the serious beginning of instruction in
American literature in the ’nineties.
The work of Poe and
Hawthorne in this field had been accorded considerable atten­
tion through individual author courses.
The circumstances
276
which governed the development of college courses in the
American novel operated similarly upon the short story as a
subject for college study.
Courses which included work in the American short
story appeared in the following institutions: Colorado (19181919), Baylor (1919-1920), Goucher (1919-1920), South Dakota
(1919-1920), forth Carolina
(1920-1921), Tennessee
(1924-1925),
College of the City of New York (1924-1925)
The first definite course In the American short story
seems to have been offered at Oregon by Mary H. Perkins in
2
1911-1912.
This was an exceptionally early course.
It
appears to have been successful and is listed each year through­
out the period 1918-1928.
West Virginia after 1912-1913 had
offered Types of American Fiction (mentioned a b o v e ) , which no
doubt, included work in the short story; in 1915 a course in
Periodical Literature was introduced
which definitely in­
cluded the study of the American short story.
Other institu­
tions introduced courses with dates as follows: Pennsylvania
State College ( 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 2 0 ) Minnesota (novel and short story,
1.
For typical announcements see University of South Dakota,
Catalogue 1918-19 (19-20), p. 85; Baylor University,
Catalogue 1918-19 (19-20), p. 8 6 ; University of
Tennessee, Catalogue 1923-24 (24-25), p. 101.
2 . University of Oregon,
Catalogue 1910-11 (11-12), p. 124.
3. West Virginia University, Catalogue 1915-16 (16-17),
p. 95.
4.
Pennsylvania State College, Catalogue 1919-20, p. 249.
277
1
2
1920-1921),
South Carolina (1924-1925),
Wisconsin (19243
4
1925),
Middlebury (1926-1927),
New York University: School
5
6
of Education (1927-1928),
New Hampshire (1927-1928).
Thus the Short Story became an established course at
about the same time as the Novel— 1923-1925.
American Ideals and Americanism
In the year immediately following the First World War,
perhaps as a result of pressures arising from that conflict
(See Page 245) courses appeared which emphasized the background
of American ideals as expressed in literature.
Such courses—
"Democracy in American Literature," "American Ideals in Ameri­
can .Literature," and the like— may be observed at Oregon (19171918),7 Southern California (1918-1919),8 Wesleyan (1918-1919),9
Princeton (1918-1919),10 'West Virginia (1920-21),11 Bucknell
12
13
14
(1921-1922),
South Dakota (1921-1922),
Colorado (1924-1925).
This tendency had been observable during the decade be-
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
University of Minnesota, Catalogue 1920-1921, p. 74.
University of South Carolina, Catalogue 1924-25, p. 80.
University of Wisconsin, Catalogue 1924-25, p. 194.
Middlebury College, Catalogue 1926-27, p. 43.
New York University: School of Education, Catalogue
1927-28, p. 285.
6 . University
of New Hampshire, Catalogue 1927-28, p. 155.
7. University
of Oregon, Catalogue, 1916-17 (17-18), p. 105.
8 . University
of Southern California, Catalogue 1917-18
(18-19), p. 78.
9. Wesleyan University, Catalogue 1918-19, p. 105.
10. Princeton University, Catalogue 1919-20, p. 106.
11. West Virginia University, Catalogue 1919-20 (2 0 -2 1 ), p. 92.
12. Bucknell University, Catalogue 1921-22, p. 67.
13. University
of South Dakota, Catalogue 1920-21 (21-22), p. 84.
14. University of Colorado, Catalogue 1923-24 (24-25), p. 85.
278
fore the First World 'War, usually as an aspect of sociologi­
cal survey courses; between 1918 and 1928 what had been a
mere phase of the subject developed into full-fledged, in­
dividual courses.
Individual Authors
The course devoted to the study of an individual
author
(or occasionally a small group of authors) could be
observed here and there early in the development of American
literature as a college subject.
It had retained its popu­
larity down to this date, appearing frequently (See Pages 221,
223) as a course of more advanced status than the survey, and
a point of departure for specialized study in American litera­
ture .
Since 1918 this type of course has been given fre­
quently and has shown tenacity in remaining in announcements
throughout the period.
Eighteen institutions offered strong
courses with this alignment early in this period (1918-1938) .
The author most frequently dealt with was Ralph "Waldo
Emerson.
The following institutions offered early courses in
his works: Harvard--this was the famous course taught by Bliss
2
3
4
5
Perry— Delaware,
Southern California,
Oregon, Pittsburgh,
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Harvard University, Catalogue 1918-19, p. 415.
University of Delaware, Catalogue 1917-18 (18-19), p. 69.
University of Southern California, Catalogue 1917-18
(18-19), p. 78.
University of Oregon, Catalogue 1915-16 (16-17), p. 99.
University of Pittsburgh, Catalogue 1919-20, p. 113.
279
North Carolina,
1
Leland Stanford,
Wisconsin,
6
2
Tennessee,
Virginia,
7
5
Princeton.
Kansas,
8
4
Amherst,
5
At Tennessee and
Kansas, Emerson was studied in conjunction with Carlyle,
and at North Carolina, Princeton, and Amherst, his works were
studied in conjunction with those of one or two other Ameri­
can authors.
Walt Whitman appears as a subject for study about
half as often as Emerson, the following institutions indicating courses dealing with his works: Oregon,
9
Miami,
10
North
11
12
13
14
Carolina, ' 'Wisconsin,
Northwestern,
Princeton.
Poe appears about as often as Whitman— frequently in
conjunction with him.
Such "duet" courses appear at O r e g o n , ^
*1 r
'Wisconsin,
1.
*i
and Northwestern.
ry
Poe also appears as a course
University of North Carolina, Catalogue 1917-18 (18-19),
p. 224.
2. University of Wisconsin, Catalogue 1920-21, p. 157.
3. University of Virginia, Catalogue 1921-22, p. 127.
4. University of Kansas, Catalogue 1920-21, p. 47.
5. Amherst College, Catalogue 1923-24, pp. 83-84.
6.
Leland Stanford University, Catalogue 1925-26, p. 87.
7. University of Tennessee, Catalogue 1926-27 (27-28),
p. 150.
8.
Princeton University, Catalogue 1927-28, p. 78.
9.
University of Oregon, Catalogue 1918-19 (19-20), p. 106.
10. Miami University, Catalogue 1919-20, p. 26.
11. University of North Carolina, Catalogue 1920-21, p. 224.
12. University of Wisconsin, Catalogue 1921-22, p. 180.
13. Northwestern University,
Catalogue 1926-27, p. 146.
14.
Princeton University, Catalogue 1927-28, p. 78.
15.
University of Oregon, Catalogue 1918-19 (19-20), p. 106.
16. University of Wisconsin,
Catalogue 1921-22, p. 186.
17. Northwestern University,
Catalogue 1926-27, p. 146.
280
subject at the following institutions: Virginia,
Iowa,
3
Pittsburgh,
1
Kentucky,
2
4
Hawthorne (less popular apparently in this decade
than he had been) appears in only three institutions: Virginia
(in conjunction with Poe), Pittsburgh 6 (in conjunction with
Thoreau) , and Montana,
Thoreau is specifically mentioned
8
9
twice— at Montana, and at Pittsburgh.
Benjamin Franklin
10
appears just once— at North Carolina.
The work of an Ameri­
can literary man worthy of more attention than he has been
given was the subject of a course at Illinois during this
period— "Lincoln's Letters and Speeches."^
In sum, mention of individual authors as subjects of
courses occurred as follows: Emerson— llj Poe— 7; Whitman—
Hawthorne— 3; Thoreau— 2; Franklin— 1; Lincoln— 1.
6
;
Courses
devoted solely to an individual author appear as follows:
Emerson— 7; Whitman— 1; Poe— 1; Hawthorne— 1; Thoreau--l;
Lincoln— 1.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6
.
7.
8
.
9.
10.
11.
University of
University of
University of
University of
p. 362.
University of
p. 150.
University of
p • 362.
Montana State
p. 84.
Montana State
p. 78.
University of
University of
University of
Virginia, Catalogue 1919-20, p. 117.
Kentucky, Catalogue 1926-27, p. 79.
Iowa, Catalogue 1926-27 (27-28), p. 213.
Pittsburgh, Catalogue 1926-27 (27-28),
Virginia, Catalogue 1923-24 (24-25),
Pittsburgh, Catalogue 1926-27 (27-28),
University, Catalogue 1927-28 (28-29),
University, Catalogue 1919-20 (20-21),
Pittsburgh, Catalogue 1926-27 (27-28), p. 362.
North Carolina, Catalogue 1920-21, p. 224.
Illinois, Catalogue 1919-20, p. 315.
281
Ballads
Important for their emphasis upon American back­
grounds, traditions, and folkways in general were courses in
the Ballad.
In at least three institutions this subject re-
1
2
ceived definite attention— Duke,
South Carolina,
and New
5
York University.
From the time of Child at Harvard (See
Page 60) the English and Scottish ballad had received due
attention in colleges, and George Lyman Kittredge encouraged
extension of work in the American field.
Alan Lomax, J. A.
Lomax, C. Alphonso Smith, and J. F. Dobie have all contrib­
uted mightily to the collection and preservation of American
balladry and ballad material
It is probable that, through
courses in sectional literature
(hereafter mentioned), the
study of the ballad in the United States has received atten­
tion in colleges and universities more considerable than cata­
logues and announcements may indicate.
Regional Literature
At least
6
institutions between 1918 and 1928 announced
courses indicating a bent toward the study of American litera­
ture on a regional basis.
These were: Wesleyan ("Studies in
4
New England Literature"),
1.
.
3.
4.
2
Chicago ("Metropolitan, Western,
Duke University, Catalogue 1923-24, p. 142.
University of South Carolina, Catalogue 1925-26, p. 108.
New York University, Catalogue 1925-26, p. 532.
Y/esleyan University, Catalogue 1918-19, p. 6 8 .
282
1
Southern Literature"),
Indiana ("Literature of the Middle
2
West"),
Missouri ("Missouri Literature," "Regionalistic
4
3
Movements in Literature"),
Georgia
("Georgia Literature"),
5
Mississippi ("Folklore in Mississippi") .
These courses are important to the development of
instruction in American literature since their emphasis upon
local "background conditions forces upon the students the iden­
tification of literature with the time and place of its origin,
Miscellaneous Sub.jects
The American literature field between 1928 and 1S38
showed the development of a large number of courses dealing
with the subject from new points of view.
Some of the more
interesting of these courses follow: "Slavic Background of
American Literature"
6
7
"The Great Tradition,"
8
"British and American Travel Literature,"
"Prose and Poetry
9
-|Q
of Negro Life," "History of American Oratory,"
"American
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
(Brie Kelly),
University of Chicago, Catalogue 1919-20 (20-21), p. 241.
Indiana University, Catalogue 1919-20, p. 110.
University of Missouri, Catalogue 1923-24 (24-25), p. 182;
1924-25 (25-26), p. 239.
University of Georgia, Catalogue 1925-26 (26-27), p. 1 1 2 .
University of Mississippi, Catalogue 1926-27, pp. 89-90.
Dartmouth College, Catalogue 1927-28, p. 6 8 .
Leland Stanford University, Register 1918-19, p. 171.
University of South Lakota, Catalogue 1917-18 (18-19),
p. 95.
Howard University, Catalogue 1922-23 (23-24), p. 177.
Northwestern University, Catalogue 1916-17, p. 128;
Indiana University, Catalogue 1918-19, p. 108.
283
1
Journalism,"
2
"Literary Relations between America and Europe,"
"English and American Historians."
Advocates and Commentators 1918-1940
The rising interest in the teaching of American lit­
erature in colleges and universities in the years between
1918 and 1928 was mirrored by the increasing number of articles
in periodicals urging the extension of the field and calling
attention to its status.
Wo less than eight articles on the
subject appeared during the decade.
"T. J. Baker" (pseud.)
"T. J. Baker," writing in the North American Review
in 1914
4
called attention sharply and definitely to the meager
5
extent of offerings in American literature,1- stating that one
"prominent New England university" offered only one two-hour
course in American literature while "Dante in English" and
"Layamon’s Brut" received considerable attention.
1.
He chal-
Stanford University, Register 1916-17 p. 148; (University
of Southern California, Catalogue 1923-24 (24-25),
p . 95.
2. Louisiana State University, Catalogue 1921-22 (22-23),
p. 178; University of Maine, Catalogue 1920-21, p. 107.
3. Harvard University, Catalogue 1922-23 (23-24),
p. 177.
4. American Literature in theColleges, North American
Review, Vol. 209, (June, 1919), pp. 781-785.
5. I b id., p. 781.
6 . Ibid., p. 782.
284
lenged the view that American literature ie a mere phase of
English literature and asserted that in spite of a common
language American literature, as a reflection of American
life rather than English, is a separate and distinct literature.
We are, he stated, past the colonial period, and our culture
is ’’not alone of our English descent” but also a product of
the "unique conditions" of our continent.^
In this article the influence of our participation in
the First World War is clearly evident.
The American spirit is today a might force.
What was it but this spirit which brought
us into the war upon the side of liberty
and Justice? What but this that sent
2,000,000 men across the ocean to strike the
deciding blow in the greatest conflict in all
history? What is it but this that has made
America today undisputed leader among the
nations; that makes one speak of the Ameri­
canizing of Europe, of the future as the
American age?2
He places a portion of the blame for the neglect of American
literature upon the intellectual snob who prefers Swinburne
3
to Longfellow, and he refers to a decline in American knowl­
edge of American literature:
Two decades ago no educated American was
unacquainted with the great American
1.
2.
3.
Baker, op. cit., pp. 783-784.
Ibid., p. 7§47
TEI3.. p. 785.
285
writers; one who reads and loves them
today is the object of condescending
pity....If the proper study of mankind
is man, the proper study of Americans is
America.
The tone of this brief
It seems to have been based on
article is sharp and polemical.
personal and immediate obser­
vation rather than extensive research.
But it is sincere in
tone and obviously serious in purpose— the work of a man who
believed in the importance of American literature as a col­
lege subject and wished to defend its tenure.
Arthur Hobson Quinn
In 1922 a very much more scholarly and important
article, under the authorship of Professor Arthur Hobson
Quinn of the University of Pennsylvania appeared--’’American
Literature as a Subject for Graduate S t u d y , T h i s
study was
based on representative institutions, east and west, investi­
gated by means of catalogues and correspondence.
Professor
Quinn as one of the most important college teachers of Amer­
ican literature at the time had a very firm basis from which
to survey the field.
Quinn recorded that 3 universities were offering
purely graduate courses every year— Columbia, Michigan, Penn­
sylvania; 4 others were offering courses in alternate years—
1.
2.
Baker, 0£. c i t ., p. 785.
Educational Rev ie w, Vol. 64
(June, 1922), pp. 7-15.
286
Illinois, Leland Stanford, Virginia, Wisconsin .1
"Mixed" graduate courses
(i.e. open to both graduates
and undergraduates) of a high grade were being offered every
year by 5 institutions--Chicago, Cornell, North Carolina,
Texas, Virginia; 2 ^vere offering such courses in alternating
years— Harvard, Yale.
No graduate courses were being offered
2
by Brown, Johns Hopkins, and Princeton.
The maximum work of purely graduate quality was one
full course or two half-courses.
The maximum of "mixed"
work offered was one course "primarily for graduates" and two
courses open to seniors and graduates.
No generalization
could be made, according to Professor Quinn, on the basis of
age or location of institutions though distribution in the
West was more even than in the East.
"Almost universally
there was an expression, either direct or implied, that the
offering was not adequate, and some even promised amendment
in the future."®
Professor Quinn reported that graduate courses in­
cluded the following types:
Periods (especially the Colonial),
Sectional, Individual Authors
(Poe, Emerson, Hawthorne,
Lowell, Vs/hitman), Forms and Movements
(4), Theater (1).
(l), Drama (2), Novel
"Curiously enough, there is only one
course in the ’Literary Relations of England and America.’"
1.
2.
3.
4.
Quinn, 0£. cit., p. 7.
Loc . cit.
Loc". cit.
h o c . cit.
4
287
He found the reports of thesis subjects encouraging.
They
included the following: William Dunlap. Thomas C. Haliburton.
Albion W . Tourgee, John Eston Cooke (Columbia ) , Francis
Hopklnson (Harvard), William Dean Howells (Illinois), Robert
Montgomery Bird, Richard Penn Smith (Pennsylvania), Virginia
Fugitive Verse, Social Types in Southern Prose Fiction (Uni­
versity of Virginia), Literary Culture in Early New England
(Yale).
The drama and the novel received emphasis as thesis
subjects.
In "the last five years I have had reported"
6
theses on drama and theater, 4 of which were published .1
The following were cited as particularly commendable: William
Dunlap
(by 0. S. Coad of Columbia), Realistic Presentation of
American Characters in Native American Plays to 1870 (By P . I .
Reed of Ohio State University) , and Robert Montgomery Bird
(by C. E. Foust of Pennsylvania).
The existence of theses such as these contro­
verts the statement given in some of the re­
plies to my letters of inquiry, to the effect
that since students should have a thorough
knowledge of British literature before they
come to American literature, few have time
In graduate study to acquire that training
in American literature which is necessary to
research.^
It was urged that the study of American literature
might well be taken as an effective means of leading the stu­
1.
2•
Quinn, 0£. cit., p. 9.
Ib id ., p . 11.
288
dent back through English and European literature.
The occa­
sional emphasis upon state literature (Kansas Literature,
Pennsylvania Literature, for instance) was disapproved; Ameri­
can history as an adjunct to the study of American literature
was mentioned as requisite; and the definite separation of
graduate and undergraduate study of the subject was strongly
re commended.^
Professor Quinn cited as the two great needs for the
furtherance of graduate work in American literature the expan­
sion of college and university library holdings in the field,
and a change of attitude toward the subject—
...a change which I believe is coming, if the
letters I have received are indicative of the
general feeling of my colleagues. When the
subject is no longer considered as a by-product
of British letters, dubious in its intrinsic
worth and incapable of that resisting power
which true scholarship demands as one of the
qualifications of research material, the first
step will have been taken.
Part of the dis­
trust of our literature is the general dis­
trust of scholarship with the modern and
contemporary. Yet never was there greater
need for sane, critical judgment than in the
field of contemporary American literature...
and where are we to obtain standards except
from the teachers of our native literature,
who will refuse to accept foreign judgment
based on prejudice and native judgment founded
on ignorance ?2
Professor Quinn's article is of primary importance on
several counts.
1.
2.
It was, so far as this investigation has dis­
Quinn, ojo. c i t ., p. 12.
Ibid ., p p . 14-15.
289
covered, the first thorough and objective attempt to survey
the actual status of American literature as a subject in
American colleges and universities*
It dealt, moreover, with
a peculiarly important phase of the work in that field— the
graduate study, which was to be relied upon for the production
of future teachers and critics of American letters.
It based
its conclusions not merely upon catalogue statements but also
upon replies to personal Inquiries, so important In getting
at the institutional and professional feeling for the subject.
It was read before the first meeting of the American Literature Group of the Modern Language Association
and thus had
significance over and beyond that implied by its publication.
Finally, it gave to the study of American literature an element
of prestige which until this date had not in speech or publica­
tion been forthcoming— the open and avowed support of a recog­
nized scholar in the field, and the backing of a great univer­
sity.
Stuart Pratt Sherman
The next article,
of
chronologically, urging the cause
American literature as a college subject was under the
authorship of Stuart Pratt Sherman, appearing in the next year—
2
1923.
Sherman did not refer to Professor Quinn's article and
seems to have reached his conclusions independently.
1.
Letter: Arthur HobsonQuinn, 11 July, 1939*
2.For the Higher Study of American Literature, Yale Review,
Vol. 12 ( new series) (April, 1923), pp. 469-475.
290
The title of this article is indicative in its gen­
eral alignment and tone— "For the Higher Study of American
Literature."
survey.
It is an essay and an apologia rather than a
Sherman mentioned W . C. Brownell*s Cooper and went
on to say:
I have never read in his "American Prose
Masters" without saying to myself rather
sternly: "It is high time that young Ameri­
cans should hegin the serious study of their
own literature; and here is a guide who shows
us how the task should be undertaken ."1
He referred to the general neglect of the study of
American literature except in adolescence and childhood, and
asserted the right of American literature to be read and ex­
amined as a national literature quite distinct from English
letters.
He deplored the lack of attention given it on the
college level.
At the present time, it is a most conservative
estimate to say that nine-tenths of our uni­
versity teachers are more competent to dis­
cuss the literature of England than the litera­
ture of America; and the actual quantity— not
to speak of the quality--of Instruction pro­
vided in the higher study of our own literature
is relatively insignificant
Sherman, while admitting the importance to Americans of the
English literary tradition, drew a line between the importance
1.
2.
Sherman, ojo. c i t., p. 470.
Ibid., pp. 471-472.
291
of the earlier writers--Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton—
and the later writers.
Cotton Mather holds more significance
for Americans he felt than Jeremy Taylor, and Franklin's work
had equal claim with Gulliver's Travels.
The American should
study Irving rather than Leigh Hunt, the Federalist rather than
the Letters of Junius, Emerson rather than Carlyle, Thoreau
rather than Richard Jeffries, ..hitman rather than Morris,
Clemens rather than Wilde, and Henry James before George Moore.
It is only by using our native literature,
by keeping it current, by making it saturate
the national consciousness...that we can
make our history serve and enrich and inform,
us, and give to our culture the momentum of
a vital tradition.
In this last statement Sherman is true to his position
as a New Humanist, interested in the setting up and maintain­
ing of traditions.
He saw little danger of overvaluation of
American literary products and he queried the critical attitude
that regarded literature solely from an intrinsic (aesthetic)
standard.
Best, after all, even in the field of art, is
a term which cannot be defined without some
reference to what art is so fond of denying to
Itself— its purpose. When an American reader
wishes an intimate picture of American society
there can be no best book but an American book.
1.
2.
Sherman, on. cit., p. 473.
Ibid., p. 474.
292
And here again Sherman took the New Humanist position— that
literature cannot be criticized on purely literary standards —
that it must, fundamentally, he judged as a means to the clari­
fication and comprehension of life.
Fred Lewis Pattee
Pattee's summary of the "rise" of American literature
as a college subject
("The Old Professor of English: An Autop­
sy"), appearing in his Tradition and Jazz (1925) has already
been quoted so extensively that more comment on it is probably
superfluous.
Working with catalogue materials at the University
of Illinois, Pattee surveyed briefly the history of instruction
in American literature on college levels in the United States,
supplying from his own wide experience suggestions on the at­
mosphere and backgrounds of the evolution of the subject.
So
far as the investigator has been able to discover, this article
is the only attempt up to date to trace in a broad way the "rise"
of American literature in colleges and universities.
Ernest E. Leisy
In 1926, Professor E, E. Leisy (Southern Eethodist Uni­
versity) published an article"^ based on an investigation of
American literature by means of 300 questionnaires sent to col­
1.
Ernest E. Leisy, American Literature in Colleges and Uni­
versities, School and Society, Vol. 23, (February 27,
1926), pp. 307-309.
293
leges and universities.
The results indicate clearly and ob­
jectively the standing of American literature as a college
subject at this time.
Out of the 300 institutions queried, 148 (less than
one half) replied.
Of these the sectional distribution was:
East 38; South 38; Central 56; West 16.
Universities offer­
ing graduate work answered 39; colleges 110; technical schools
Practically all the institutions replying offered at
least one course, conspicuous exceptions being Bates and Prince­
ton (which suggested that one might be given).
" This is cer­
tainly a much more encouraging state than prevailed before the
2
late war."
The usual course was a six-hour survey; 25 institu­
tions offered only a single two-hour course but these offered
graduate work also in the subject
(Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska,
Northwestern, Wisconsin, Colorado, Yale).
A one-semester or
one-quarter course was offered by 24 institutions, including
Ohio University, Hamilton, Amherst, Florida, and Mount Holyoke.
Advanced undergraduate courses in American literature
were offered by 31 of the 146 Institutions; 12 offered contem­
porary American literature (of these, 4 extended back to 1870);
10 offered American novel; 7 American drama; 7 American short
1.
2.
Leisy, op. pit., p. 307.
Loc. cit.
294
story; 4 an Intensive course in American poetry.
ferings were— Maine: period 1790-1830; Columbia:
Wellesley: critical studies; Harvard: Emerson;
Poe, Emerson, novel of western life; Chicago:
Other of­
to 1860;
Pennsylvania:
Colonial, New
England, metropolitan-southern-western, since 1890; Missouri:
Missouri literature; Washington: history of American culture."*"
Of the 148 institutions, 20 were recorded as offer­
ing graduate work in American literature.
This group in ­
cluded Chicago (Colonial, Transcendentalist, theater) ,
Columbia (research in fiction), Harvard (Colonial, period
1830-1860), Johns Hopkins
(seminar), Michigan (period 1820-
1860), Missouri (regional movements), North Carolina
(early
national, romanticism), Leland Stanford (Colonial research) ,
Pennsylvania State (3 graduate courses as well as 4 under­
graduate), Southern California (two-year cycle of seminars
covering Emerson, Hawthorne, Poe, Lanier, Thoreau, Whitman),
Texas (studies) , Virginia
(Poe, Hawthorne, .'Emerson) , W a s h ­
ington (early American literature), Wisconsin (seminar, Whit­
man or Emerson) .
The largest offering reported was at the
University of Pennsylvania--5 undergraduate courses plus the
following graduate courses:
Novel, Drama, Poe, Emerson.
Pre-Civil War, Since Civil War,
California offered an occasional
research course in historical and social backgrounds; Maine
1.
Leisy,
0£.
cit., pp. 307-308.
295
similarly offered the period 1820-1840, and Illinois a
course in Poe or Lowell."*"
American literature courses were found to be limited
generally to upperclassmen, only 5 institutions opening
them to freshmen.
Annual courses were noted in 104 institutions, alter­
nating courses in 26.
Only 14 listed American literature as a
required subject, and in these it was required only of English
majors or prospective teachers,
"...yet nearly all colleges
report a large voluntary enrolment in the subject."
In reply to the q^^estion on the qualifications of
instructors in American literature, 35 mentioned graduate work
in the field "naming usually courses under Professors Trent,
Van Doren (Columbia), 0,uinn (Pennsylvania) and Boynton (Chica­
go) ."
Of these, 13 had received a doctoral degree for work
in American literature.
"Ostensibly the rest of the eighty
who have received their degree in this field are not teaching
American literature."
It was noted that the best known men in
the field began teaching before graduate work in the subject
3
was generally available.*"
The basic course was found to be the survey, leaning
heavily upon a textbook.
The most acceptable combination of
textbooks was P. L. Pattee's Century Readings in American Lit-
1.
.
3.
2
Leisy, oja. c l t ., p. 308.
Loc. cit.
Loc. cit.
296
erature and P. H* Boynton's History of American Literature.
with G, H. Page's Chief American Poets a second choice.^"
Chronological development, reflecting social
history, has had preference over the con­
sideration of American literature as art.
Frequently a course begins with a considera­
tion of "periods" and shifts later to a study
of literary "types ; few make the sectional
backgroimd the basis of the w o r k . 2
Professor Leisy's study may be accounted chronologi­
cally the second of its sort
(A. E . Quinn's being the f irst)--
an attempt to survey on relatively objective evidence, the
actual status of American literature in institutions of higher
learning.
The total coverage
(148 institutions), the geograph­
ical distribution, the broad sampling by type of institution,
attention to both graduate and undergraduate levels, and the
fundamental importance of the questions asked (khat courses?
How Inch credit?
Prerequisites?
What texts?
What year-level?
Qualificat ions of instructor ?
of work?) render this report very significant.
Required?
Basic principle
By implication
(and by implication only for the most part) extension of work
in American literature is advocated.
Saturday Review of Literature (1927)
A short but spirited defense of American literature
as a college subject appeared in the Saturday Review of Lit-
1.
2.
Leisy, op. cit., pp. 308-309.
Ibid., p. 308.
297
erature for January 8, 1927.1
Why, it queried, is there any
controversy about the teaching of our literature in colleges?
Because the Federalist spirit still reigns
in the American universities which (with the
exception of Virginia) it largely created,
and the Federalist maxim has always been,
why use American goods- (or culture) if the
English is better?2
The article proceeded to outline, apparently on the basis of
the author’s observation, the situation of American litera­
ture in the colleges.
For years the schools taught the most in­
nocuously moral of American writers, whose
greater contemporaries might have visited
endless college classrooms without hearing
their names so much as mentioned* Lounsbury
used to say that in Yale of the 6 0 's not even
Shakespeare, Byron, or Pope was dignified in
college classes. In the ’nineties, with
rare exceptions, Hawthorne, Emerson, Cooper,
Poe were extra curriculum, Whitman and Twain
ignored, Melville auctor ignotus (In Yale it
was a Professor of Physics who "discovered"
him)• The ghost of Thoreau must often have
waited cynically upon Chaucer classes at
Harvard, while Cooper, expelled once, and
now expelled again, may have stormed sound­
lessly through Yale lecture halls, while
some devoted romanticist was celebrating
the more platitudinous poems of Scott.
(Not
that Cooper felt Scott to be inferior: he
was a Federalist born, and would have dis­
approved of teaching any "light literature,"
as he called his own works, at all.)3
1.
2.
3*
Anonymous, Teaching Our Literature, Saturday Review of Lit­
erature, Vol. 3, (July 31, 1926-July 23, 1 W ) 7
pp. 493, 499.
Ibid., p. 493.
Loo. cit.
298
The author commented (though not without complaint)
on the part played by the Test in developing the teaching of
American literature.
The "anti-Federalist Test has saved
us from the absurdity of refusing to teach our own literature."
But it has gone too far in its enthusiasm, and "courses in the
literature of Kansas or the poets of California" have resulted.
But the chief importance of the article is its clear
and definite statement of the problem of point of view, objec­
tive, philosophy that was confronting teachers of American
literature.
On this score also, the author was partisan.
Against the sociological he favored the aesthetic.
Shall we teach the great Americans as artists
in that international world of art where repu­
tation must be based upon intrinsic excellence?
Or shall we use /imerican literature of all
sorts as an index to a national culture which,
it is only too clear, political history has
not so far made us understand?
The second method has its fascinations and
indeed is in danger of capturing our colleges.
If Howells is boring, or Bryant thin, or Irving
merely suave, one can always talk about the
social history of a great continent.
But lit­
erature should never be taught as history,
unless the object is to teach history not lit­
erature. Aesthetic values are elusive at best.
Once Kelville becomes an illustration of tran­
scendentalism escaped, or Cooper an exponent
of true republicanism, and the soul of the book
may depart unnoted.[Sic] A source remains, but
not literature.l
1.
Anonymous, Teaching Our Literature, Saturday Review of Lit­
erature, Vol. 3, (July 31, 1926-July 23, 1927)', p. 499.
299
This problem the author did. not really resolve.
In fine, his article left the situation aboiit where it had
been before, for he admitted that "To teach Hawthorne or
Mark Twain or Whitman as pure literature.. .is to lose the
very quality which makes each man not merely American but
l
excellent in his own fashion.
The article closed with
the comment:
If we are to have sound instruction in our
own literature, it must be taught as art
conditioned by the American environment.
Read the great Americans as they wrote, not
to illustrate America ... .but becuase they
had something to say, and could say it
finely, and not without reference to the
America that bred them.2
Ferner Kuhn (Ruth Suokow)
An article
(the last of this period) which strongly
advocated the extension of work in American literature in
•7
American colleges and universities appeared in 1928.^
The
author had evidently surveyed the field— though no indica­
tion of method is included— and looked into the "past" of
the subject.
Increase in attention to American literature was ad­
mitted.
1.
2.
3.
It was stated that between 1908 and 1918, only 20
Anonymous, Teaching Our Literature, Saturday Review of Lit^
erature, Vol. 3 (July 31, 1926-July 23, 1927), pp. 493,
499.
I b i d ., p. 499.
Ferner Kuhn (Ruth Suckow), Teaching American Literature
in American Colleges, American Mercury, Vol. 13,
(February, 1928), pp. 328-331.
300
doctoral dissertations had dealt with the subject, whereas
between 1918 and 1928, the total was 55.
F. L. Pattee,
Bliss Perry, P. H. Boynton, and Carl Van Doren were men­
tioned as veteran schola.rs in the subject; and Norman Foerster (North Carolina), R. L. Rusk (Columbia), V. L. Farring­
ton (Washington) , V.', B. Cairns
(Wisconsin), Stanley Williams
(Yale), and K„ B. Murdock (Harvard) were mentioned as "new
m a n ."
An important contribution of this article is a com­
pare tive estimate of American literature as a college and uni­
versity subject— American literature rated on a time allowance
basis against other subjects.
American
American
American
American
American
American
Ame ri can
American
The results follow:
Literature equal to Scandinavian
Literature
Italian
1/2
Literature
Spanish
Literature
C-erman
1 %
Literature
French
Literature
Latin
Literature
Greek
Literature
i &
English
i/'t
Literature
Literature
Literature
Literature
Literatune
Literature
Literature
Literature^
The author stated that more attention on the average was being
given two English authors— Milton and Chaucer— than to all Amer­
ican literature.
Shakespeare was given about equal attention.
On the average, 1 course out of 11 in the English department
was devoted to American literature.
and not recuired.
1.
2.
2
Nuhn, on. ci t ., p. 328.
Loc. cit.
This was usually a survey
301
In graduate work the situation was found to be even
less encouraging,
'/'.here any work whatever was offered in
American literature it averaged only 1 course out of 13.
Eut
one-third of the universities offering doctoral degrees of­
fered no graduate courses in American literature.
Research
courses or seminars In the field were found in only 12 univer­
sities.
There were as many research courses on Chaucer as on
American literature.
Students majoring in English were not
required to take an American course as a rule.^
The article states that not over
6
institutions fur­
nished even a modicum of graduate w o r k in American literature-Columbia, Chicago, Pennsylvania State College, Harvard, Wiscon­
sin, and Korth Carolina.
Seven-eights of all doctoral disser­
tations concerned themselves with English rather than American
subjects.
At Harvard for the two years 1926 and 1927, there
2
were 13 English dissertations and no American.
The contrast with the situation in the field of h i s ­
tory was noted.
Here, 4 out of every 5 doctoral dissertations
were on American subjects; and American history was found as
a separate sub-department in almost every college and univer­
sity, while American literature was, w i t h one exception, "part
and parcel of English literature."
One out of 3 courses in
history on the average was found to be American history; 1 out
1.
2.
Nuhn, op. c i t ., p. 328.
Loc, cit.
302
of 25 courses in all literatures is American literature.
"One wonders if the great discrepancy is not in a large part
due to the sharp contrast between our traditional political
self-respect and our cultural self-abasement."^
The article concluded with a plea that American lit­
erature be given the dignity of a separate department which in
the author's estimation, it deserved at least as much as jour­
nalism, band instruments, and horticulture.
One college was
noted with approval.
This is the Pennsylvania State College, which
offers in an American department, of which
Professor F. L. Pattee is the chairman, six.
undergraduate courses as compared with twentyseven in the English department, and five
graduate American courses as compared with
six graduate English courses. This is an il­
lustration of something like a decent academic
respect for the native culture of the Republic.2
Edwin M. Hopkins
In 1951 the English Journal (College Edition)
an excellent review in brief by Edv/in M. Hopkins
3
carried
(Professor of
English, University of Kansas) of the past and probable future
of instruction in English in American colleges.
Comments on
the teaching of American literature are incidental but reveal­
1.
2.
3.
Nuhn, op. cit., pp. 329-330.
Ibid., p . 331.
Edwin M. Hopkins, Forty Years ofCollege English: History
and Prophecy, The English Journal(CollegeEdition)
,
Vol. XX, Wo. 4 (April, 1931), pp. 320-330.
303
ing.
He quotes one teacher of American literature as follows:
...Forty years ago there were only two or three
textbooks on the subject....only a few elemen­
tary courses in colleges, and it was not con­
sidered a dignified, hardly a respectable field
for research.. Even when I took to it, I was
something of an outcast in the eyes of some of
my colleagues.
It has now developed so that
one of the chief dangers seems to me to come
from the recognition of its importance.
Many
people think so well of it that they want it to
be put in a department by itself. For grad­
uate work this would be all right; but for
undergraduates it would mean a lot of students
trying to evaluate American writings with no
background of English literature.1
Professor Hopkins notes the broadening tendency, beginning
about 1900, to pay more attention to the literature of the West
and South.
Cited as particularly important to the college study
of American literature is the movement within the Modern Lan­
guage Association represented by The Reinterpretation of American Literature (1928), and the founding of the quarterly Ameri­
can Literature as a vehicle for scholarly articles dealing with
American letters.
Professor Hopkins suggests that the focus
of the new interest "seems to be in the South," with evidence
that "newer parts of the country" were interested in their local
history and literature.
He also notes with approval the oppor­
tunity presented the colleges "to base upon truer foundations
a finer interpretation and evaluation, of both literature and
1.
Hopkins, op. c_it., p. 323.
304
life in their proper relationships
Saturday Review of Literature (1957)
In 1937 the Saturday Review of Literature
2
hailed e n ­
thusiastically the introduction at Harvard of a new doctoral
degree which permitted the candidate to work in the general
field of American culture and civilization.
According to the
statement of the article, three fields were required--(1 }
social and economic history of the United .States; (3) history
of literature in the united States;
theory in the United States.
(3) history of political
Three other fields must be ma s ­
tered, the choice of these being left to the candidate and
made, presumably, according to the particular requirements of
his chief problem and interest.
The article found the new offering entirely to the
good, and contrasted its liberal and humanistic alignment with
the traditional narrow, philological bent of requirements for
doctoral degrees in literature.
The new degree recognizes that literature
is a social phenomenon; that fact alone marks
a revolution In education...In other words,
the program is realistic, pragmatic, and
ad hoc...no surplus requirements, no wasted
effort, and no tribute to academic theory,
tradition or vested Interest.3
1.
2.
3.
Hopkins, o d . c i t . , p. 324.
Anonymous, Enlightened Research, Saturday Review of Lit­
erature , Vol. 15 (April 10, 1937), p. 8 .
Loc. cit.
305
The article suggested as probable results of this innovation
the freeing of American literary studies from the bondage of
English departments and various irrelevant requirements.
Less immediately the result (it was suggested) might be the
production of "a literary climate in the universities, which
they now lack, and to make them once more a force in American
literature, as for almost a century they have not been.”
The program of study described in this article was a
development parallel in intention and organization to three
others at this time in existence at the University of Penn­
sylvania, Yale University, and New York University.
It is an
interesting commentary on the lack of general information on
the teaching of American literature even at this late date
that the author of this article
(obviously interested in Amer­
ican literature as a college subject) was apparently unaware
that the other programs of study were already in operation.
Howard Mumford Jones
In 1936, H. M. Jones (then on the faculty of the Uni­
versity of Michigan) asserted in the English Journa1^ the im­
portance of American literature as a school and college subject.
His opening remarks indicate clearly that his position was not
1.
The Orphan Child of the Curriculum, The English Journal,
Vol. 25, (Hay, 1956), pp. 376-388. For a reply to
this article see Pages 315-316.
306
merely that of the defender of American literature on sociolog
ical grounds.
Among the humanities literary studies hold a
high place both because they are valuable in
themselves as aesthetic experience, and b e ­
cause through them we bring to bear upon the
problems of the passing hour the valid wis­
dom of the past.l
He d i s d a i n e d vehemently any desire to remove from the curric­
ulum any of the great British classics or to diminish a tten­
tion to essentially important lines of the English literary
tradition.
But, he went on to say, because of differences in
social and literary traditions "Vie cannot possibly approach
British literature as a cultivated Englishman approaches it."
To the furtherance of this point of view he quotes Hilaire
Belloc's The C o n t r a s t Our inevitable differences from the
English are attributable in part to immediate environmental
differences and in part to the fact that our population is
to a great extent not of British stock.
And "Linguistic iden­
tity is not the same thing as cultural inheritance."^
To Pro­
fessor Jones, the attempt to raise ctiltural and literary taste
by means of such essentially foreign pieces as the Spectator
papers, the "Elegy in a Country Churchyard," and the Idylls
of the King; seems not only inexpedient but utterly futile and
unnecessary.
1.
2.
3.
Jones, ojo. cit., p. 376-377.
Ibid., p. 378.
Ib id ., p. 379.
307
If we had no literature of our own, even this
procedure might be justified; but having a
very good literature of our own, we are not
quite justified, I believe, in subordinating
that literature to a minor place in the English
curriculum, and attacking the cultural problem
in the roundabout manner of getting up an arti­
ficial interest in British literary history.1
And American literature, Jones asserts, i_s badly neg­
lected.
In most college faculties it is represented by 1
2
teacher out of 15 or 20.
So far as the prospective high
school teacher is concerned, the requirements of Education and
English literature crowd out the possibility of work in the Amer3
ican field.
"...the vast majority of American students, even
when they 'major 1 in English, leave college with only an elemen­
tary knowledge of the literary history of their own country,
4
and often with no knowledge of it at all."
Graduate work in
American literature, he states, Is handicapped by extraneous
requirements.
The relative intrinsic merits of British and American
literatures have nothing to do with the situation, Professor
Jones asserts.
1 do insist that the immediate cultural prob­
lem in the United States Is an American prob­
lem, not to be solved by the naive process of
1.
2.
3.
4.
Jones, on. jJ.it., p. 381.
L o c . cit.
Ibid., p . 382.
Ibid., p. 383.
308
importing a British remedy....The signif­
icant fact about American literature is
not whether its three centuries outweigh
the ten centuries of British literature,
with Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton
thrown in; the significant fact is that it
is an important literature and that it is
American. In short, it is ours, and it is
therefore part of the humane tradition we
are struggling to inculcate. 1
In its insistence on the need of a cultural tradition this
article suggests one application or aspect of the New'Humanism.
On the one hand, various self-styled p a ­
triotic societies have made themselves
guardians of an American tradition which,
in their version of it, is narrow, illib­
eral, and unillumined, the negation of
wise and understanding tolerance, of broad
and humane culture .2
The need, of the "steadying effect of a tradition"
in the
United States is paramount, Professor Jones asserts, as a d e ­
fense against the evils of subversion and tyranny.
For "the
tradition of American literature is in the main a tradition
of intellectual liberalism." ^
Again in 1936 Howard Mumford Jones took up in American
Literature^ the notable lack of a thorough history of our lit­
erary development.
Excluding textbooks he mentioned the fol-
1. Jones, op. cit.t pp. 383-384.
2 . Ibid., p . 384 .
3. Ibid., p. 387.
4. American Scholarship and American Literature, American
Literature, Vol. 8 , (May, 1936), pp. 115-124. Address
before the M. L. A.
309
lowing works and spoke of their limitations: Vernon Louis
Farrington's Main Gurre-nts in American Thought
(1927, 1930),
Lewis Mumford's The Golden Day (1926), Henry Seidel Canby's
Classic Americans from Irving to Whitman ( 1 9 3 1 ) Ludwig
Lewisohn's Expression in America
(1932), V. F. Calverton's
The Liberation of American Literature (1932) , Granville Hicks'
2
The Great Tradition (1933) ," and Charles Angoff's A Literary
History of the American People (1931).
The limitations of
all these works, except Angoff's in Jones's estimate are of
extent or point of view rather than quality.
But Angoff's
book he describes as "A production so bad that Professor Pattee
indignantly repudiated it as possessing
'no originality...
little perspective, no sense of proportion... scant stylistic
excellence...haste and slapdashery.
3
The blame for this failure of the United States to
produce a good history of its literature Jones lays at the
doors of the American scholars and college professors who have
4
ignored our native letters.
Why, he asks,.did the American
scholars not take as a model for their work the excellent book
by Moses Coit Tyler "already five years old" when the Modern
Language Association was organized in 1883?
1.
2.
3.
4.
Tyler had pointed
Jones, ojc. c i t . , o. 115.
Ibid., p. 116.
Ibi d., p. 115.
See American Literature, Vol. 3 (November, 1931), pp.
321-323.'
Jones, op. c i t . , pp. 121-122.
310
out as early as 1873 the need for an Early American Text
Society.
In 1887, Jones states, A, E. Smyth "told the a s­
sociation that
'it is certainly discreditable to us that we
have done so little toward a faithful and affectionate study
of what is purely native and national in our American writings .'11^
John Bright
(of Johns Hopkins) in commenting on
Smyth's remarks had said, "I insist upon the importance of Amerlean literature for the purpose of advanced work. ,.2
In spite of all this, Jones continues in a tone of sharp
protest, American literature was ignored when the forty-one re3
search groups of the Modern Langtiage Association were set up.
As further evidence of disrespect and neglect Jones mentions the
fact that of forty-three presidents of the Association, in fifty
years, only one, J. R. Lowell, was a scholar in the American
field— and he had been chosen because of his T/vork in British lit'
erature.
Jones concludes with the grim comment "If scholarship
in American literature has gone forward, it has not been be4
cause of the M o d e m Language Association of America.
In this article Jones points to the over-emphasis upon
British literature and the exclusion of American literature as
a contributing cause of what he regarded as unfortunate involve-
1.
2.
3.
4.
Jones, on. ci t ., p. 122,
Loc. cit.
See P. 37. L. A., Ill, 238-244, iii.
Jones, op. cit. p. 122.
Ibid., p . 123 .
311
ment in the First <7or Id
Road to War, pp.
7ar.
He quotes V',alter Millis
41-42) on the
(The
sentimental and unwholesome
attachment to Great Britain on the part of educated Americans
as a result of their education; and he refers to B. .J. Hendrick's
The Training of an American (pp. 60-67) for the tremendous mold­
ing effect that the teachings of English literature Toy Professor
T. R. Price had upon Walter Hines Page.
Lacking training in our
own cultural tradition and values and steeped in those of Great
Britain,
(Jones implies) our college educated leaders are likely
to lack the will
(or at least the eagerness) to pursue courses
favorable to the
United States
and fitting our dignityas a
great and independent nation.
Bernard De Voto
Commenting upon the meeting of the Modern Language
Association in 1936, Bernard De Voto, editor of The Saturday
2
Review of literature,
offered praise for the study and teach­
ing of American literature and observations in its history.
In the last twenty years, and especially in
the last ten years that once humble stepchild
of literary/- scholarship has had an amazing
development.
It has not only reached a parity
with the other departments but, in the opinion
of the editor at least, is now doing the most
humane and most valuable research that the M.
L. A. can show, is dealing with literature in
1.
2.
Jones, ojo ■ c i t ., 120-121.
The American Scholar, Saturday Review of Literature »
Vol 15 (December 26, 1936), p p . 8, 14.
312
the most consistently intelligent way, and
has the most promising future ahead of it.^
i’r.
De Voto goes on to praise the doctoral dissertations in
the field of American literature as "more important" than
those in English literature.
He suggests that the reasons
for this "eupepsia" may he the relaxing of the old-fashioned
philological requirements for the doctoral degree, the less
thoroughly explored field presented by American literature,
and the fact that in the study of our own letters the scholar
is almost forced to take into account the social backgrounds
and "to deal at first hand with esthetics and history."
The body of American literature resists the
pursuit of sources, influences, and parallels
which has enfeebled research in English lit­
erature and made it too often a merely m e ­
chanical exhibition of scholarly technique in
which even the lowliest minds can engage.2
De Voto praises, as an example of the "American scholar's
willingness to deal with literature as a product of the life
process, as a living thing, as an organic relationship with ex­
perience and society" Richmond C. Beatty's Bayard Taylor
Chester R. Heck
Setting forth in definite terms the pressing need for
1.
2•
3.
De Voto, _op. cit . , p. C
Loc » c i t .
Ibid., p . 14.
313
the establishment of a national tradition in the United
States, Chester R. Heck (Director, College Division, American
Book Company) asserted the importance of American literature
as a college subject.-^Heck asks— What exactly is the much-talked-about
"American ’Way?"
He quotes ’Halter Lippmannfs Phi Beta Kappa
address at Harvard (1935): "....those who determine what
schools and colleges and the press shall transmit as the Amerlean tradition do not know what to tell the young men.""
Heck
goes on to quote President Conant of Harvard and Hutchins of
Chicago on the responsibilities of universities in this regard.
The "sad ignorance of our intellectual history in the
minds of the supposedly educated populace"
may, Heck suggests,
be the product of neglect — evidenced by examination of cata­
logues— by our colleges and universities of the American,
native phases of culture— in particular the neglect of American
4
literature.
This, it is stated is a matter of no mere academic
concern.
The best defense against foreign "isms," and wild-eyed
and unprofitable experimentation in political and other fields
is to be found in an awaremess of the collective and continuing
experience in our past .
1
.
2.
3.
4.
The "American Way" in College, Harvard Dducational Review,
Vol. 8 (Parch 8 , 1938) , pp. 228-S-236.
I b i d . , p. 329.
L o c . cit.
Ibid., pp. 232-233.
314
Let them be aware that many of the glamorous
new concepts are in reality old ideas in
modern dress, and that in some form or other
they have been tried, and quite often they
have been found wanting.l
Robert E. Spiller
In line with the general purport of the Saturday Review
article already mentioned were the comments of Robert E. Spiller,
(Professor of English, Swarthmore College) speaking before the
English Institute of Columbia University (August 28, 1939) as
reported in the Wew York HeraId-Tribune (August 29, 1939).
Spiller advised more attention to modern literature, particularly
as related to its social and economic backgrounds, and a depar­
ture from "linguistics and philology in the narrow sense of the
term" which have made literary research "impeccably accurate
and completely inconsequential."
The statement was made that
"the study of the work of John Steinbeck should in some respects
lead to more valuable conclusions than could that of the work
of Shakespeare, however inferior the former may be as an artist."
This last comment indicates a definite turn from the
traditional point of view of English departments— the study of
literature for its own, artistic sake— toward the study of lit­
erature for the sake of "more valuable conclusions."
The sug­
gestion of valuable conclusions and consequential research points
toward a sociological interpretation (the New Humanist position).
1.
Heck,
ojd.
c i t ., p. 236.
315
It is of significance, as a measure of general in­
terest in the teaching of American and modern literature,
that Spiller's comments were reported by the New York HeraldTribune to the extent of a half column, prominently displayed.
To the comments of Bernard De Vote and Howard Mumford
Jones an answer was forthcoming— the only article which this
research has uncovered (to 1939) that deals in any degree a d ­
versely with the cause of American literature as a college sub­
ject .
A. L. Strout
A, L. Strout (Professor of English, Texas Technical
College, Lubbock, Texas) in 1939'*' referred to the remarks of
De Voto and Jones and to a limited extent took issue with them.
To Jones's charge that a great deal of English litera­
ture is too remote from American students to be thoroughly felt
2
and understood by them, Strout replies
that the "universal"
qualities of the great works of English literature are In no
sense remote from American experience and actually present no
great difficulty.
He accuses Jones of vagueness and pointless
generalization in the statement that only 1 out of 15 or 20
members of the average English faculty teach American literature,
and he inquired just what Jones would regard as a just propor-
1.
2.
A. L. Strout, Culture and Cult, Sewanee Review, Vol.
XLVII (January-November, 1939), pp. 95-105.
Ibid., pp. 99-100.
316
tion.
Similarly he implies that Jones is somewhat unreal­
istic in suggesting that American literature offerings can be
increased without diminution of English literature offerings.
Instead of a course counter to the interests of English lit­
erature Strout says, why not attack "that cuttlefish Educa­
tion" and thus make room for American literature?"*"
With Jones's
statement that we must attach ourselves to some great tradition,
Strout agrees heartily; but he also has this to say about it:
...a year's survey course in American litera­
ture might well be added to the requirement
for a student majoring in English.
To em­
phasize American literature at the expense of
English literature in our colleges seems to
me absurd. We absorb the "American tradition"
in and out of every classroom. What we need
is the tradition of the world, Chinese and
Russian if we only had time for them, and Eng­
lish, at least, which providentially we can
read without a crib....I fear that in placing
our own literature upon a pedestal our col­
leges might become a vast intellectual Rotary
Club, with world literature nebulously circling
our periphery .2
Thus Professor Strout takes, basically the aesthetic
point of view— that the essential purpose of teaching literature
Is not inculcation of a sense of nationality but a sense of the
true, the beautiful, and the human.
"To what extent, in short,
does Professor Jones propose to let locality take the place of
literary genius?"^
1.
2.
3.
He points out that although, as Jones
Strout, op. c i t . , p. 102.
Ibi d., p. 103-104.
Ibid., p. 102.
317
states, American literature has indeed its "humorous sanity"—
epiekeia, "sweet reasonableness"
is Greek and English also.-*"
John T. Flanagan (1940)
Two articles which appeared in 1940
(and are therefore,
outside the scope of this research, strictly speaking) are
worthy of consideration.
The first of these^ by John T. Flanagan (Assistant
Professor of English, University of Minnesota) is a somewhat
limited survey of the status of American literature as a c o l ­
lege subject combined with a good deal of special pleading.
Twenty-five institutions were surveyed and general conclusions
were apparently based on the author's personal observation as
well as on the facts uncovered in the institutions investigated.
Flanagan mentions as impediments to the collegiate study of Amer­
ican literature, the vague but effective prejudice against Amer­
ican literature, particularly prevalent in institutions with a
strong philological tradition (except Harvard); and the lack of
well-trained teachers who are specialists in American literature.
It is suggested as a highly desirable possibility that every
faculty should include a "Professor cf American Literature."
Flanagan approves of the regional point of view in the teaching
1.
2.
3.
Strout, op. c i t., pp. 102-103.
John T. Flanagan, American Literature in American Col­
leges, College English, (Larch, 1940), pp. 513-519.
Ibid., p. 518.
318
of American literature and of coordinating regional history
and literature.^"
His position on the matter of basic align­
ment of courses is sociological
("inclusive") and anti-purely
aesthetic:
Courses in American civilization are un­
doubtedly the answer to those carping
critics who profess to find our native
literature lacking in the purely aesthetic
va lu es .2
The research involved in this study uncovered several
interesting facts.
(Cf. Chapter V)
Survey courses are found
to be frequently required of prospective high school teachers .0
Author courses are comparatively rare.
At Harvard, New York
University, and Chicago candidates for advanced degrees can
4
major in American literature or related subjects.
Programs in
American Civilization are noted at Harvard, Yale, and New York
5
university.'
few institutions lend to the study of American lit­
erature the emphasis observable at the University of Chicago;
and next to Chicago are Wisconsin, the University of Pennsylvania
and Harvard.
Princeton, Johns Hopkins, and Nebraska lack grad­
uate courses.
This article suffers somewhat from the mixture of
.
.
3.
4.
5.
6.
1
2
Flanagan,
Loc. cit.
Ibid ., p .
Loc. cit.
Ibid ., p .
Ibid., p .
op.
514.
517 .
518.
319
special pleading and research.
It is limited also by the
small number of institutions surveyed.
It is unfortunate,
for example, that the basic list of institutions did not
include Yiddlebury College, which has a full-fledged and
separate Department of American Literature.
ff.)
(See Pages 357
There is a notable omission also of mention of the pro­
gram of study in American Civilization which is offered by the
University of Pennsylvania under the direction of Arthur Hobson
Quinn.
This omission is particularly notable since the Univer­
sity of Pennsylvania' i^s one of the 25 institutions Investigated.
Again, this study does not do justice to the extent and variety
of the American literabure work at New York University.
Pages 338 f.)
(See
Finally, on the basis of historical research, it
is impossible to accept the statement that "a quarter of a cen­
tury ago few schools offered work in American literature...”^
Leonard Koester (1940)
Leonard Koester (Assistant Professor, Department of the
Humanities, University of Louisville), in 1940 also, published
a brief but effective apologia
lege subject.
2
for American literature as a col
Without purporting to be based on extensive re­
search, this article shows a considerable breadth of experience
1,
Flanagan, op. cit., p. 513.
320
and point of view on the part of its author.
It Is asserted that American literature and American
culture are still (1940) relatively neglected fields of study
in American colleges.
English culture is admitted to be an
important part of our tradition, but
If English and American culture are in­
separable, and must be taught in the
same department, is it not more logical
that English serve as the background and
be taught in the American department?1
There is no mere quibble about terminology; as Koester states
it, it is a question of relative place and emphasis in the
curriculum upon the two cultures and literatures.
The duty of
a department of American Culture would include research, pre­
sentation, and asslmilation--all in the field of American and
related materials— with the central focus always upon the American point of view.
Koester states that American literature is not without
honor abroad.
Poe, he states," is (March, 1940) better known
in France and Germany than here, and he mentions as a sample
of the work at the University of Munich a course he attended-"The Myth of the Noble Savage from Columbus to Cooper."
Historical perspective on the part of this author is
revealed by his recognition that the relative neglect of native
1.
2.
Koester, o£. cit., p. 135.
Ibid., p . 136.
321
letters is by no means an historical phenomenon confined to
the United States, but can be observed in the history of other
countries at certain periods of their development
During the period 1913-1938 American literature as a
subject on the college level continued the line of development
observable earlier.
Institutions not previously engaged in work
in the field now introduced courses, and "most favorable" insti­
tutions of an earlier date now either expanded their offerings
or held them at the high level already attained.
Diminishments
were minor in nature and frequently only temporary.
The period is notable for the development of new types
of courses; in the middle
’twenties the following were introduced:
American Novel, American Short Story, American Drama.
Courses in
the Ballad, including American materials, and in regional litera­
ture were prevalent.
The sociological point of view became more widely accept­
ed in American literature
courses during these years, and
courses emphasizing American ideas and ideals were notable.
Originality and freshness of approach were revealed in the titles
of many courses, for example, Dartmouth's "Slavic Backgrounds of
American Literature."
1.
Koester, o p .-ci t ., p. 136.
322
Articles defending and surveying the teaching of Amer­
ican literature in colleges appeared with increasing frequency
in these years.
Several events bearing on the development of the sub­
ject occurred within this period: the founding of a separate
department of American literature at Yiddlebury, the founding
of a scholarly publication
(American Literature) at Duke, and
the publication of Vernon Louis Farrington's Main Currents in
American Thought.
Also notable was the founding of graduate
curricula in American studies at the University of Pennsylvania,
New York University, Harvard, and Yale.
The influences operating to produce these increases are
probably assignable, in the main, to the increasing sense of
nationalism arising out of the First World War, the general ex­
pansion of higher education in the United States, and the rising
importance of American literature itself.
The approach to a sat­
uration point in the field of British literature, particularly
on graduate levels, may also be accounted a pertinent factor.
CHAPTER V
THE STATUS QUO —
ONE YEAR, 1938-1939
Introduction
Since
gation
1938-1939 is the terminal year of this investi­
it was thought that a chapter dealing in some detail
with work in American literature as it appears In the announce­
ments of colleges and universities for this year would serve
two purposes:
(1) to present a survey of the status of Ameri­
can literature in curricula at a late date, and (2 ) to sum­
marize the development of the subject to this time, representing
a late (if not final) stage of that development in closer in­
spection than
has been feasible for any other single year.
An effort has been
made to offer statistical comparisons
of various phases of the subject; these numerical representa­
tions are approximate and are not to be considered exact or de­
finitive.
They are based on catalogue statements, which are
not always clear; and practice in institutions does not invar­
iably follow the letter of the announcements.
Again, compar­
ison of extent of work in institutions following the semesterhour system and those operating on a quarter-hour basis is
necessarily Inexact.
With these limitations, a comparative survey by insti-
323
324
tutions has been attempted and phases of instruction in Amer­
ican literature already studied in earlier chapters have been
examined and recorded for this one year.
The General Situation
Inspection of statistics of the colleges under inves­
tigation reveals certain significant facts about the teaching
of American literature.
Of the 119 institutions for which
estimates were possible 9 offered no courses in the subject in
1938-1939.
The heaviest offering was that of New York Univer­
sity— in excess of 70 semester hours and about 36 per cent of
the total English and American literature offering there.
(See Pages 338-340)
The average offering in American litera­
ture was about 13 semester hours; the median was 11.5 semester
hours; and the mode was
6
semester hours (15 institutions).
As the general value of the usual "full course"
week, 36 weeks) is
(3 hours a
semester hours, this means that the aver­
6
age institution offered only the equivalent of 2 courses.
And
since the basic figures include proportionate representation
of courses which were merely in part concerned with American
material (for example, British and American Drama), it means
that as a rule only
1
course
(6
semester hours) devoted solely
to American literature was available, the balance
(6
semester
hours) being accountable to the "American" fragments of courses
primarily concerned with literary types— the Novel, the Short
325
Story, the Drama, the Essay, Poetry.
For courses limited to
American literature the figures (in semester hours) follow:
Average 11.6, Median 9, Mode 6 (28 institutions).
Strictly
graduate courses (courses not open to undergraduates) were
offered by 37 institutions.
Courses accountable for both grad­
uate and undergraduate credit were frequent, but experience
seems to indicate that in such courses the undergraduate atmos­
phere is likely to predominate.
How seriously they are to be
taken as graduate courses would depend
upon the general status
of the university in which they were offered.
The proportion of American literature to total litera­
ture offerings of English departments varied from 36 per cent
(New York University) to 2 per cent (Princeton University), 9
colleges showing no work whatever in American literature.
Sta­
tistical analysis shows the following relationship: American
literature ("pure" courses plus parts of others) in proportion
to total English department offerings in literature: Average
14.1$, Median 15.0$, Mode 17^.
hours)
(Figures based on semester
In this calculation allowance* has been made for Amer­
ican literature components of courses not primarily concerned
with American material (British and American Essayists, for
example) •
*
Since departments of English offer purely linguistic
For example: "Drama— English, American, Continental--3
semester hours." American literature content equated
at 1 semester hour.
326
courses and extensive composition courses not included in
these calculations it appears that American literature did
not, in general, receive much attention in comparison with
English literature.
to illustrate.
Comparisons, however odious, may serve
•
At the University of California (Berkeley),
for instance, the graduate offering in Old Irish plus that
in Germanic Heroic Poetry equaled the graduate offering in
American literature.-1-
The University of Illinois, similarly,
devoted as much time in graduate work to Caedmon and Cynewulf
2
as to American literature.
At the University of Nebraska a
course entitled Celtic Sentiment and Thought in Its Relation
to English Literature was allotted as much time as American
literature.
At Princeton no place was found for American
literature as a graduate course although 14 graduate litera­
ture titles were displayed, the array including such titles
as Old English Religious Poetry and Types of Medieval Narra­
tive .
Indeed, as one professor reported from a university at
which American literature has been accorded more attention
than at most, the subject was treated as a "poor brother" of
English literature.
1.
2.
3.
4.
University of California (Berkeley), Bulletin, General
Catalogue 1938-1939, p. 239.
University of Illinois, Annual Register 1938-1939, p. 247.
University of Nebraska, Bulletin, Catalogue Issue, Record
1937-1938, Announcements 1938-1939, p. 378.
Princeton University, Catalogue 1938-1939, p. 366.
327
Emphasis in Relation to Location
Examination of the figures tabulated on Page 369
reveals that the emphasis on the teaching of American litera­
ture and the amount of time given to it vary only slightly
with the various geographical areas; indeed, the variations
are so slight that they cannot be taken as statistically sig­
nificant.
The only marked variation is in the number of grad­
uate courses, the institutions of the Northeastern States of­
fering 30, against a total of only 31 for the rest of the
country.
Emphasis in Relation to Type of Institution
The state and national universities show, as a group,
a considerably heavier offering and emphasis than those of
the private and municipal institutions; even when the 9
schools which offer no work in American literature are d e ­
ducted from the accounting (since they are all private, the
weight of their data would seem to require some rectifica­
tion), the significant margin between the two groups remains
in favor of the state and national universities.
The women's
colleges (9 studied) are decidedly below national averages in
their offerings in American literature, in part because as
colleges they offer little or no graduate work.
In passing, the curricula of 15 of the more prominent
328
teachers colleges were examined.
ular form on Page 368.
The results appear in tab­
In general, the courses are similar
in make-up to those of other collegiate institiitions, with
emphasis on the survey and types courses.
The averages for
absolute amount of work offered are lower than those for the
other institutions, but the per cent of emphasis Is slightly
higher (teachers colleges 16.6: others 14-.4).
No teachers
college studied omitted consideration of American literature
from its curriculum, and 1 of the 15 (San Francisco State
College) offered 21 semester hours, a figure well above the
average for other collegiate institutions.
Six of the 15 re­
quired work in American literature of English "majors,” a
response, no doubt, to the requirements laid down by certain
states Ibhat American literature be included for certification
in English.
(See Page 395)
Types of Course
American literature curricula in those institutions
offering the most work in the subject show the following
general pattern:
— survey course: usually historical and chronolog­
ical, open to sophomores, Juniors and Seniors, carrying 4 to
6
semester hours credit, administered by a teacher of professo­
rial rank assisted by one or more instructors, several sections
frequently being available;
329
2.
Several types courses: Novel, Short Story, Poetry,
Drama, Essay— open to Juniors and Seniors
(and frequently
Graduate Students), carrying 3 semester hours credit apiece,
given by a teacher of professorial rank unassisted;
3.
Several author courses:
Poe, Hawthorne, Emerson,
Whitman— open to Juniors, Seniors, and Graduate Students,
carrying 3 semester hours credit each, instructed by a teacher
of professorial status unassisted;
4.
One or two (rarely more) courses dealing with lit­
erary schools or movements: the Transcendentalists, the Hart­
ford Wits, Poets of the South, New England Historians, A meri­
can Romanticism--for Seniors
(usually by special permission
only) and Graduate Students, carrying 3 or more hours credit,
taught by a professor.
The purely graduate seminars and
courses are without exception based on the authors or schools
and movements subject matter (3 and 4 above) but do not dupli­
cate the material of undergraduate courses in the same insti­
tutions.
The following titles and descriptions are typical:
1.
1
.
41-42 American Literature. "An outline
course in the history of American
literature." 6 semester hours cred­
it.
Professor Randall Stewart.
Elective Soph., Jr. Sr. (Brown)1
Brown University, Bulletin, Catalogue Number 1938-1939,
p. 99.
330
2.
372
Studies in American Drama.
W i l t . (Chicago)1
Professor
3.
88
Emerson and W hi tman. Professor
Prescott.
(Cornell)^
4.
133
The Development of American Realism.
Professor Knight.
(KentuckyT3
Another type of course, perhaps to be classified under 4 above,
is represented by the following:
303
Main Currents in American Literature.
r,A study of certain poets and prose
writers chosen to illustrate some of
the more important phases of Ameri­
can life and letters, from 1789 to
the present.1' Assistant Professor
Willard Thorp.
(Princeton)4
The influence of Vernon Louis Farrington is everywhere evident
in these courses, and their titles frequently suggest or in­
clude parts of the title Main Currents in American Thought„
In the schools giving less attention to American lit­
erature the pattern described above is approached a step at a
time and usually, though not invariably, in the order listed;
that is, the least favorable schools for American literature
offer the survey course
1.
2.
3.
4.
(1 ), the slightly more favorable offer
University of Chicago, Announcements, The College and the
Divisions 1938-1939, p. 174.
Cornell University, Official Pub11cation, Announcements,
College of Arts and Sciences, p. 51.
University of Kentucky, Bulletin, General Catalogue 19371938, Announcements 1938-1939, p. 169.
Princeton University, Catalogue 1938-1939, p. 102.
331
survey and types courses
(1
and
2
), and those nearest ap­
proaching the maximum offering in American literature have
available survey, types, and one or two authors courses (3).
The fourth group (literary schools and movements) appears
only in universities which have placed considerable emphasis
on American Literature or in universities which have excep­
tionally strong graduate school offerings.
Institutional Procedures
Instructional precedures in American literature
courses are similar to those employed in English literature
courses of an equal level.
The basic procedure in under­
graduate courses is still the lecture; notes are taken, occa­
sional brief tests are given, reports on secondary sources
are required once or twice a semester, and final examinations
(usually of the essay type) are administered.
In survey
courses a syllabus may be furnished, or the textbook may be
assumed sufficient to give the course coherence and direction.
Considerable collateral reading is usually required.
Lectures
are calculated to furnish the student with information beyond
that contained in the textbook, to stimulate his thinking
about the subject, to show relationships between various ele­
ments of the course, and to relate the course to other fields
of human knowledge.
During the lecture periods, particularly
in the smaller colleges, opportunity for questions and dis-
532
cussion is provided.
Formal oral recitations have varnished,
though short, prepared oral reports are frequently required.
Graduate seminars meet for discussion and report on progress
of research.
Groups are usually small enough to permit indi­
vidual contact between professor and student; each student
(ideally)
investigates some phase of the general problem that
interests him and is guided and assisted by the professor, the
group sharing experiences and results.
Undergraduate courses
usually meet two or three times a week (four or five times in
universities committed to the quarter plan) for about one hour
at a time.
Seminars and graduate classes meet once a week for
two or three hours at a session.
The similarity of organization and procedure in Amer­
ican literature courses to that prevailing in the teaching of
English literature is marked and not at all surprising; except
in one institution— Kiddle bury College, which has a separate
department of American Literature^--courses in American lit­
erature are under the department of English.
most instruc­
tors of American literature have been trained, thus, under
English literature curricula.
Instructional Personnel
In most schools, however, the courses In American lit-
1.
Middlebury College, Bulletin, ben's Catalogue Number
1938-1938, p. 35.
333
erature are in the hands of men of professorial rank who are
probably equal in training and ability to their colleagues
in English literature.
In only a few departments does Amer­
ican literature appear to be a side-issue course so far as
quality of instruction is concerned.
I"any departments appear
to have a professor specializing in the field, and in general
the subject seems to be at least as well equipped on the per­
sonnel side as English literature.
It is not, as a rule, an
"instructor’s course" like the elementary composition and
the Beowulf to Thomas Hardy survey courses in English litera­
ture.
Pew professors teaching American literature are specif­
ically trained for it by highly specialized graduate work in
the field, but neither, for that matter, are the Instructors
of English literature specifically trained for their fields of
the subject.-1- Bore often than courses in English literature,
American literature, being more recent of development and less
"accepted," is a "hobby"
course of the professor— and certainly
none the less effective for that reason.
In comparison with
English literature, American literature would appear, also, to
be taught with a greater consciousness of the economic and
social backgrounds, as evinced by the echoes of Farrington in
course titles and descriptions.
Thus it may be concluded that
the American literature component, though given considerably
1
.
Dorothy Mulgrave, ‘
The P h . D. Degree in English...Thesis,
Ph. D., Nev/ York University.
1930.
334
less attention than English literature, is at least as well
organized and taught*
American Literature as a Required Course
American literature figures in the curricula of col­
leges almost exclusively as an elective study; the only Insti­
tution in which it is required of any great number of students
is the University of South Carolina.'*'
Several state depart­
ments of education have posted American literature as a course
required for certification in English, and university cata­
logues carry announcements to that effect.
(See Page 395)
In
some colleges the students' attention is directed to the study
of American literature by the various suggestions on planning
for major and minor studies; In a few schools American litera­
ture is included as a field in which students must be prepared
for examination.
Thus the University of Washington mentions
for English majors an examination at the end of the senior
year which requires a "general knowledge of English and Araerican literature"; at Stanford University
2
the final examina­
tion for Master of Arts candidates covers both English and
o
American literature; Montana State University
lists an exami-
1.
2.
3.
University of South Carolina, Bulletin, Catalogue Number
1938-1S39, p. 115.
Stanford University, Catalogue, 1938-1939, p. 189.
Montana State University, Bulletin, Catalogue Number
1937-1938, Announcements 1938-1939, pp. 55-56.
334
less attention than English literature, is at least as well
organized and taught.
American Literature as a_ Required Course
American literature figures in the curricula of col­
leges almost exclusively as an elective study; the only insti­
tution in which it is required of any great number of students
is the University of South Carolina.^
Several state depart­
ments of education have posted American literature as a course
required for certification in English, and university cata­
logues carry announcements to that effect.
(See Page 395)
In
some colleges the students' attention is directed to the study
of American literature by the various suggestions on planning
for major and minor studies; in a few schools American litera­
ture is included as a field in which students must be prepared
for examination.
Thus the University of ’Washington mentions
for English majors an examination at the end of the senior
year which requires a "general knowledge of English and Amer2
ican literature"; at Stanford University the final examina­
tion for Master of Arts candidates covers both English and
American literature; Montana State University
lists an exami-
1.
University of South Carolina, Bulletin, Catalogue Number
2.
3.
Stanford University, Catalogue, 1938-1939, p. 189.
Montana State University, Pullet in, Catalogue Number
1937-1958, Announcements 1938-1939, pp. 55-56.
1938-1939,
p. 115.
335
nation similar to that mentioned at the University of Washing­
ton.
The following schools provide for an undergraduate major
i
in American literature; Middlebury College,
University of
2
3
Maine, Dartmouth College;
and a considerable amount of work
in American literature may be done toward graduate degrees at
most of the universities which favor American literature or
have experts in the field.
In general, American literature does not seem to need
the protection of inclusion among required courses; in fact
there seems to be more need of protection of other courses
against its attraction.
It frequently appears in catalogues
as a limited enrollment course,
(See, for example, New York U n i­
versity, Page 338) and even where It is not officially limited,
discretion appears to be exercised to restrict the number of
students electing it.
Under demand, several sections have been
formed in colleges to accommodate students wishing to enroll
for courses, particularly the survey courses, which would other­
wise be unreasonably overpopulated.
Graduate Work
Of the 121 institutions under consideration for grad-
1,
2,
3,
Middlebury College, oja. c i t ., loc . c i t .
University of ?:aine, Bulletin, Catalogue dumber, Cession
1937-1938, Announcements 1938-1939, p, 185.
Dartmouth College, Complete Catalogue 1938-1939, p. 122,
336
uate work, 37 offer courses in American literature which are
strictly for graduate students, and practically all univer­
sities offer graduate credit courses open also to undergrad­
uates.
In the graduate as in the undergraduate field, rela­
tively little work is offered in American literature,
there
American literature appears at all as a purely graduate course
or seminar, it shows the following relationships: Average num­
ber of tltle3: 1; Proportion of total graduate literature of­
ferings
(average for 21 schools)
11 per cent.”
Titles for
these seminars and courses are well standardized: Studies in
American Literature, Problems in American Literature, Studies
in Colonial Literature, and The Transcendentalists appear fre­
quently.
The influence of Lnglish literature is always visible.
The lines of research are similar to those followed in English
literature.
Examination of the purely graduate offerings of the
schools under consideration, for 1938-1939, brings out some
significant relationships.
There is, for instance, high cor­
relation between extent of undergraduate and purely graduate
offerings.
The universities offering the most undergraduate
work in American literature all include in their curricula at
least one course of strictly graduate rank (New York University,
*
These calculations are necessarily approximate; graduate
courses and seminars are frequently unrated in semester
hours, but the fact that they are usually of equal
value within a school makes a reckoning on the basis of
titles accurate within reasonably narrow limits.
337
Chicago; Western Reserve, Pennsylvania State, Howard University,
South Carolina, Southern California, Brown, Louisiana),
One
institution— Harvard— shows a peculiar (in fact, unique) situa­
tion,
Offering only 1 undergraduate course in American litera­
ture (English 11, undergraduate-graduate, 6 semester hours),
the institution leads all universities (except the University
of Pennsylvania) in its purely graduate offering in the subject,
with 3 graduate courses and 2 ”seminars” ; and the work is in
the bands of two well-known scholars in the field of American
literature— Howard Mumford Jones and Kenneth Ballard Murdock.^
Of major importance for graduate work are also New York Uni­
versity with 3 graduate courses taught by professors A, H,
Nason, Oscar Cargill, and N, P, Adkins; Howard University, with
3 purely graduate courses and a thesis course; Pennsylvania
i
State with 4 graduate courses; and Brown with 3 highly selec­
tive graduate groups including a seminar dealing with the life
and works of Herman Melville under the direction of S, Poster
2
Damon, American poet and biographer.
The University of Penn­
sylvania, through its group of courses in American Civilization
has integrated the study of American literature and American
history, and probably points the direction in which American
literary studies will proceed.
Harvard, Yale, and New York Uni­
versity show similar organization and grouping of American
courses,
1.
2.
Pennsylvania's American literature offering is impres-
Harvard University, Catalogue 1938-1939, p. 150.
Brown University, o]D, cit., p. 103.
338
sive--6 courses offered in 1938-1939 with 6 more alternating,
given under the department of English but with a separate sub­
heading.
Arthur Hobson Quinn, the authority on the American
drama is in charge.
Boston University appears to offer ex ­
tensive work on the graduate level and shows a separate group­
ing of American literature courses.
Leading Institutions
In terms of the amount and variety of their total
course offering in American literature, 9 institutions appear
to be preeminent: Hew York University, University of Chicago,
Pennsylvania State College, Howard University, the University
of South Carolina, Brown University, Louisiana State University,
the University of Southern California, and Western Reserve U n i ­
versity.
These institutions show from 30 semester hours
(West­
ern Reserve) to something in excess of 70 semester hours (New
York University)
in American literature and display a consid­
erable variety of titles in the subject.
A brief description
of the curriculum of each, so far as American literature enters
into It, follows.
New York University^
Washington Square College
39-40
1.
Main Currents in American Literature: 18301930. Cargill, Adkins, Charvat (5 sections,
New York University, Bulletin: Washington Square,
339
39.1
40.1
39,4-40.4
39.-5-40.5
39.6
40.6
[39.7
[39.8
60.2
each limited to 40 students— Sophomores,
A or B record)
Emerson and Thoreau: The Concord Idealists
Adkins (Sophomores, A or B record)
Melville and Whitman: The New York Idealists.
Adkins (Sophomores, A or B record)
American Fiction. Cargill (Sophomores, A or
B record)
History of American Society Since 1830.
Charvat
Poe and Hawthorne: Romantic Aesthetes.
Adkins (Sophomores, A or B record)
Mark 'Twain and Henry Adams: Critics of the
Gilded Age. Adkins (Sophomores, A or B
record)
American Culture In the Colonies and Young
Republic.
Cargill.
Given 1939-1940]
The American Theater.
Cargill.
Given
1939-1940]
American Folklore of British and AfroAmerican Origin. Barnicle (3 sections,
each limited to 60 students)
.
(Inclusive)
35-36
35.1-36.1
60
64.1
64.2
65-66
67-68
Introduction to English and American litera­
ture. Watt et al.
(11 sections)
Introduction to English and American litera­
ture.
(Pre-law students only. 4 sections)
The Popular Ballad in England and America.
Barnicle (2 sections, each limited to 60
students)
Contemporary British Drama and Its Influence
on America.
Carpenter
Contemporary British Drama and Its Influence
on America.
Carpenter
Modern British and American Poetry. Walton
The Contemporary Novel. Burgurn, Silien
Announcement 1938-1939, pp. 87-89, 91-95; Graduate
School, Announcement 1938-1939, pp. 77-78; Univer­
sity College, Announcements, February, 1938, pp. 8485; School of Education, Announcements 1938-1939,
pp. 164-166, 168, 169; School of Commerce, Announce­
ments 1938-1939, p. 65.
340
Graduate School
181-182
281-282
289-290
[183-184
[283-284
[285-286
American Literature to 1865. Adkins
American Literature from Bradford to Edwards .
Nason
Modern Americans.
Cargill
American Literature Since the Civil War.
Cargill. Given 1939-1940]
American Literature from Franklin to Brockden
Brown. Nason.
Given 1939-1940]
American Literature from Bryant to the Close
of the New England Renaissance.
Nason.
Given 1939-1940]
University College
50-60
54-64
[58-68
American
American
American
Given
Thought. Nason
Literature to 1865.
Knedler
Literature Since 1865.
Knedler.
1939-1940]
(Inclusive)
71-81
Modern Drama.
Borgman
School of Education
111.7,8
II.59,60
American Literature for Teachers.
Historical Literature of America.
Boardman
H. R. Driggs
(Inclusive)
III.91,92
Survey of the Novel
Barnes
in England and America.
School of Commerce
39-40
Nineteenth Century American Literature.
Charvat
(Inclusive)
85-86
The Modern Drama.
Gamuz
Totals (Semester Hours)
American Literature Only
Washington Square College
University College
School of Education
School of Commerce
44
12
10
__4
70
American Litera­
ture I n d u s i v e
12
2
4
_JL
19
341
University of Chicago^
202
370
372
374
376
377
379
380
381
382
383
466
475
276
History of American Literature. "Course
intended for students preparing for the
preliminary informational examination for
the Bachelor's or Master's degree." Wilt.
Blair, Boynton (C-Summer or 2 C each term)
American Literature Since 1890. Boynton
(1 Quarter)
Studies in American Drama. Wilt (1 Quarter)
Benjamin franklin. Faust (1 Quarter)
Irving, Cooper, Bryant. Boynton (1 Quarter)
The Cambridge Group: James Russell Lowell.
Blair (1 Quarter)
Foundations of Transcendentalism. Faust
(1 Quarter)
Walt Whitman. Wilt (C-Sumner, or \ C 1st
term)
The American Novel. Boynton (1 Quarter)
Henry James. Wilt (1 Quarter)
Mark Twain and His Contemporaries. Blair
(1 Quarter)
Research in American Literature.
Wilt,
Boynton (4 Quarters)
Seminar: Studies in Colonial Literature.
Boynton (1 Quarter)
The Transcendentalists. Boynton (1 Quarter)
(Inclusive)
263
Twentieth-Century English and American Drama.
O'Hara (C-Summer, or \ C either term)
Since Chicago follows the quarter system, conversion of coursehours into semester hours has been necessary, and the results
are only approximate.
The total semester hours allotted to
American literature a re thus slightly in excess of 45; the pro­
portion of total time in English and American literature which
is allotted American literature is 23 per cent.
1.
University of Chicago, op. cit., loc. cit
The titles
342
show originality of choice of subject matter; two (Henry James
and Benjamin Franklin) are unique, for 1938-1939.
Graduate
work at Chicago is particularly effective and varied because of
the remarkably fine collection of American source material, in
some respects probably the most extensive in this country.
Percy Holmes Boynton, an authority in American letter, is in
charge of the work in this field and has, to a great extent,
built up the teaching of American literature at the University
of Chicago.
Pennsylvania State College^
1
4
5
6
401
484
505
506
512
513
1.
General Introduction to American Literature.
" Rapid Survey." Sophomores.
(6 serti. hrs .)
American Literature to the Civil War (1870) .
(6 sem. hrs.)
Later American Literature.
Survey 18701900.
(6 sem. hrs.)
Contemporary American Literature. 1895 to
the present.
(3 sem. hrs.)
Main Currents in American Literature. "Promi­
nent movements in American literature in
their origin and development, with con­
sideration of representative works produced
in each movement; explanation of some of
the social, political, economic and religious
forces which have operated in the creation
of literature in America."
(3 sem. hrs.)
Merrill.
American Drama.
(Colonial-Present) (6 sem.
hrs.)
Cloetingh.
The American Short Story.
(3 sem. hrs.) Werner.
History of American Poetry.
(3 sem. hrs.) Werner.
History of the American Novel.
(3 sem. hrs.)
W er n e r .
American Lssays.
(3 sem. hrs.) Werner.
Pennsylvania State College, Bulletin, General Catalogue
Issue 1938-1939, pp. 284, 286-288.
343
(Inclusive)
460
Literary Biography.
(3 sem. hrs.) Merrill.
(Courses 1, 4, 5, 6 : Sophomore, Junior, Senior. Courses
401, 484: Undergraduate and Graduate. Courses 505,
506, 512, 513: Graduate only.)
The very large offering in American literature at Pennsylvania
State is in part at least the result of tradition and of the
work of Fred Lewis Pattee, one of the most important pioneers
In the field.
The title of Course 401 is interesting as an
echo of Farrington.
1
Howard University
8
138
144
195
196
197
1
.
American Literature.
"History of American
Literature, in outline, from its beginning
to the end of the nineteenth century."
(6 sem. hrs.) Brown, Lovell
Contemporary American Literature. "American
literature from the end of the nineteenth
century to the present time."
(3 sem. hrs.)
Brown, Lovell
American Prose and Poetry of Negro Life.
"American Literature dealing with Negro
life and character."
(3 sem. hrs.) Brown
The American Novel.
"American life as re­
vealed in the novel."
Includes: Cooper,
Hawthorne, Stowe, Melville, Clemens,
Frank Norris, Upton Sinclair, Dreiser,
Lewis, Wharton, Cather,
(3 sera, hrs.)
Brown
The American Drama.
"History of the American
drama from its beginning to the present
time."
(3 sem. hrs.) Brown, Lovell
Vi/hitman. "The poetry and prose, and times
of Whitman, as t h e chief exponent of Ameri­
can democracy in literature."
(3 sem. hrs.)
Lovell
Howard University, Bulletin. Annual Catalogue 1938-1938,
Announcements 1938-1939, pp. 34, 64-66.
344
198
216
217
218
317
The Frontier In American Literature. "A
reinterpretation of American literature
in the light of growing frontier Influences."
(3 sem. hrs.) Brown, Lovell
Studies in the American Drama from 1870 to
the present Day.
(3 sem. hrs.) Brown,
Lovell
Studies in the American Literature, Exclusive
of the Drama.
(3 sem. hrs.) Brown, Lovell
American Romanticism.
(3 sem. hrs.) Brown,
Lovell
Problems in American Literature (Thesis).
Brown, Lovell
(Courses 8 , 138, 144: Undergraduate.
Courses 195, 196,
197, 198: Undergraduate and Graduate.
Courses 216, 217,
218, 317: Graduate)
Appropriately enough, since it is supported by the Federal
Government, this university stands high in the maximum group
of institutions offering American literature, both in amount
of offering and in variety and balance of courses.
Course
198 reflects the influence of Farrington, and the descriptions
of the other courses show a consciousness of the social and
economic backgrounds of literature.
University of South Carolina
21
122
1,
A Survey Course in American Literature.
Accompanied by extensive reading.
Required of all sophomores.
(3 sem. hrs.)
Babcock, Davis, Norwood, Bass, Wagener,
M r s . Owens
Contemporary American Poetry.
"A study of
contemporary trends and tendencies in
poetry, with reading and study of the more
significant modern poets from 'Whitman to
the present."
(3 sem. hrs.) Smith
University of South Carolina,
ojd.
c i t ., pp. 115-118.
545
130
141
142
149
151
153
231 232
American Literature Since 1820. "A background,
study of American literature from 1820 to
the present; influences of the Civil War;
fictional types, fashions, and characteris­
tics of provincial schools."
(3 sem. hrs.)
Babcock
Southern Literature.
"An historical and
critical survey of the most important
Southern writers and their literary, social,
and political backgrounds."
(3 sem. hrs.)
Bass
South Carolina Literature. "A study of the
principal writers of South Carolina and
their most important contributions, em­
bracing an examination of their background
and objectives; the modern novel."
(3 sem.
hrs.) Bass
Poe and His Contemporaries. "Poe’s contri­
butions to the technique of writing and
world literature; his indebtedness and in­
fluence; Poe as a poet, short-story writer,
critic, and journalist."
(3 sem. hrs.)
Babcock
Emerson, Carlyle, and Whitman. "A compara­
tive study of the influence of these men
upon one another, upon their contemporaries
and successors; their contributions to
literature and philosophy."
( 3 sem. hrs.)
Babcock
The American Novel Since the Civil War.
"A
survey of romantic fiction before 1865;
a critical study of realism to the World
War; various types of naturalistic novels
since 1914."
(3 sem. hrs.) Wauchope
American Literature, 1870 to the Present.
"An historical and critical study of the
various schools and types of our national
literature exclusive of the novel and drama."
(6 sem. hrs.) Graduate
(Inclusive)
107
The Short Storv.
Includes American Literature.
(3 sem. hrs.) Smith
The University of South Carolina is interesting in this field
not only for the breadth and extent of its offerings, but because
346
of its course in American literature (21 above) which is re­
quired of all sophomores— one of the very few courses in Amer­
ican literature required of students in American colleges and
universities, and easily the most inclusive in its sweep.
well-rounded course in Poe (149 above)
The
is worthy of note (there
are surprisingly few courses in Poe in American schools); and
the two courses in Southern literature show the influence of
sectional consciousness.
The University of South Carolina
shares with Louisiana State University among institutions of the
South the first place in American literature offerings in terms
of total semester hours; in terms of per cent of total English
and American literature offerings devoted to American literature,
South Carolina shows 32 per cent to Louisiana State's 20 per
cent, indicating a considerably stronger relative emphasis at
South Carolina.
1
Brown University
41-42
279-280
289-290
H -6
1.
American Literature. "An outline course in
the history of American literature."
(6 sem. hrs.) Randall Steward (Undergrad.)
Studies
in American Literature. "The topics
will change from year to year. Topic for
1938-1939: Aspects of Colonial American
Literature.
Original investigation will be
emphasized."
(6 sem. hrs.)
(For Graduates.
Seniors by permission)
Problems in English and American Literary
Research. "Work with individual students."
(Approved graduate students) (6 sem. hrs.?)
American Literature. Conference Group—
Honors.
(6 sem. hrs.)
Brown University, o p . cit., pp. 99, 101-104.
347
291
Seminar: Herman Melville. (Graduate.
Seniors by permission) (3 sem. hrs.)
S. Foster Damon
(Inclusive)
171
172
Contemporary Poetry, English and American.
"Tendencies in the form and thought of
English and American poetry since 1912."
(Undergrad.-Grad.) (3 sem. hrs.) Sharon
Brown
The Contemporary Hovel, English and American
"A critical study of the novel since 1900;
reading of selected English and American
novelists of the present generation."
(Undergrad.-Grad.)
(3 3 em. hrs.) I. J.
Kapstein
In extent of offering in American literature, Brown is easily
first among the Ne?; England institutions.
The structure of
its curriculum in this field is based on a full year,
6
hour
survey course (41-42 above); above this level, the emphasis is
on individual research, courses being primarily graduate in tone
though open to Seniors "by permission."
Courses 171 and 172
make definite provision for w o r k In American literature.
seminar dealing with Herman Melville is unique
among American universities.
The
(1938-1939)
The American literature faculty
includes S. Foster Damon, biographer of Amy Lowell.
The presence
at Brown of the John Carter Brown Library of Americana and the
Harris Poetry Collection and the concentration of American h i s ­
torical and literary material in and about Providence
(Athenaeum,
Newport Historical Society Library) make Brown an attractive
place for research in American letters.
There Is a tradition of
emphasis on American literature at Brown which dates back to the
days of Walter Bronson and Lorenzo Sears.
348
Louisiana State University^90
125
137-138
139-140
225
227-228
230
A Survey of American Literature.
(3 sem.
h r s .) Turner
The Literature of the South.
(Junior,
Senior, Graduate) (3 sem. hrs.) Turner
American Literature from the Beginning to
1860.
(Junior, Senior, Graduate)
(6 sem. hrs.) Bradsher
American Literature from 1860 to the Present
(Junior, Senior, Graduate) (6 sem. hrs.)
Bradsher
Studies
in Poe and Hawthorne.
(Graduate)
(3 sem. hrs.) Turner
Studies
in the American Novel.
(Graduate)
(6 sem. hrs.) Bradsher
Studies
in American Humor.
(3 sem. hrs.)
Turner
(Inclusive)
132
History
of English and American Drama, 1820
to the Present.
(3 sem. hrs.) Uhler
University of Southern California'
63
145ab
290ab
1.
2.
The American Novel.
"A general reading
course presenting the development of the
American novel from the beginnings of
American fiction to the present time,
with special emphasis on Hawthorne, Howells,
and James, and contemporary novelists."
(3 Q.-2 sem. hrs.) McCorkle
American Literature. "A general survey
from the beginnings to the present day.
1st Sem.: Beginning-Civil War. 2nd Sem.:
Civil War-Present.
(9 Q .-6 sem. hrs.)
Clark, Wann
Research.
Intensive study of one: Chaucer,
Elizabethan Literature, Eighteenth Century
Literature, American Literature.
(8 sem.
h r s .)
Louisiana State University, Bulletin, Catalogue Issue
1937-1938, Announcements 1938-1939, p. 199.
University of Southern California, Bulletin, College
of Letters, Arts, and Sciences 1938-1939, pp. 140,
143, 146, 148.
349
(Inclusive)
50ab
Readings in English and American Literature
(4 sem. hrs.)
Types of English and American Literature.
(2 sem. hrs.)
Modern Drama English, American Continental.
(6 sem. hrs.)
Contemporary Novel.
(3 Q.-2 sem. hrs.)
The English Essay.
(4 sem. hrs.)
150a
158ab
165
166
The University of Southern California leads the western univer­
sities
(excluding Chicago) in the extent of its American litera­
ture offerings.
Its display of courses solely devoted to Amer­
ican literature is not impressive, hut the 5 courses
(see above)
which deal in part with American material must be reckoned with,
and in aggregate the offering is considerable.
which provides for
8
Course 290ab,
semester hours of graduate work in American
literature, increases the importance of this university in the
field, and the presence on the faculty of Louis Wann adds
greatly to its prestige.
Emphasis appears to be on the histori­
cal survey approach, though course 152ab suggests Farrington
and the social approach.
Western Reserve University
Adalbert College'1'
214
1.
American Life and Letters in the Nineteenth
Century. "The American literature of the
preceding century from the regional point
of view.
The historical and sociological
aspects of sectionalism are indicated in
Western Reserve University, Adelbert College, Bulletin,
Requirements and Courses 1938-1939, pp. 69-70.
350
254
283
371
372
373
their proper relation to the prose of
New England, the Mississippi Valley,
the Rocky Mountain area, and the Deep
South."
(3 sem. hrs.) Blaine
Modern American Drama. "A study of the
works of outstanding American play­
wrights since the beginning of the
present century, with emphasis on the
work of O ^ e i l l and the younger play­
wrights.
(3 sem. hrs.) White
Modern American Novel. "A study of the
works of American novelists of the twen­
tieth century. Critical problems are
advanced relative to content and tech­
nique, so that literary art is exhibited
working on American materials."
(3 sem.
hrs.) Blaine, Richardson
Nineteenth Century American Novel.
"Influ­
ential novels representing the use of Amer­
ican materials and of literary techniques
contributing to narrative art. Hawthorne,
Melville, Twain, James, Howells and others
significant in portraying matters histor­
ical, social, economic, political, or per­
taining to the individual personality.
Comparison with current works."
(3 sem.
hrs.) Richardson, Blaine
Democracy in American Literature. "Study
of the various characteristics of the
idea of democracy as it has motivated
American writers from colonial days to the
present. Economic and political thought,
nationalism and democracy, transition to
the machine age, social thought, trends."
(3 sem. hrs.) Richardson
American Literature: 1750-1900. "Colonial,
Revolutionary, early national, and nine­
teenth century periods. Classicism, roman­
ticism, realism. Readings from works of
major American writers of prose and poetry
selected largely for literary qualities,
spiritual and philosophical thought, crit­
ical opinions, and American ideas not em­
braced in English 372." (3 sem. hrs.)
Richardson
(Inclusive)
262
Modern English and American Poetry.
hrs.) Jones
(3 sem.
351
285
287,288
The Short Story.
(3 sem. hrs.) Blaine
Special Studies in English and American
Authors.
(3 sem; hrs.) Staff
Graduate School
441,442
American Literature.
Ferguson
(6
sem. hrs.)
Such, then, are the offerings of the universities which
display in their announcements the greatest amount of American
literature work in terms of semester hours.
The following table
shows (A) the number of hours in American literature (courses
in part American literature accounted on an estimate basis—
See Page 325, footnote),
(B) the per cent of total English and
American literature offering thus represented.
The figures
under B supply a rough index to relative emphasis within each
school..
New York University
University of Chicago
Pennsylvania State College
Howard University
University of South Carolina
Brown University
Louisiana State University
University of Southern California
Western Reserve University
Average
Median
A
70
45/
31i
3l|
31
30
B
36
23
18
22
32
22
20
30
22
38.5
31.5
25
22
How little attention is accorded American literature in most of
our colleges becomes obvious when it is noted that in these 9
institutions most favorable to the subject (out of 119) it
receives on the average only 38.5 semester hours and 25 per cent
352
of the total time devoted to literature by English departments.
Fourteen other institutions stand relatively high in
their allotment of time to American literature.
They follow
in order of semester hours devoted to American literature:
Un i ­
versity of Pittsburgh (28), George Washington University (27),
University of Oregon (27), Rutgers University (27), University
of Wisconsin (27), Cornell University (26.5), Baylor University
(25), Duke University (24), Middlebury College (24), University
of Minnesota
(24), Northwestern University (24), University of
Iowa (23.5), University of North Carolina (23.5); the University
of Pennsylvania actually affered in 1938-1939 only 26 semester
hours of American literature, but it bulks far more considerable
in the teaching of American literature than this figure would
indicate, since 24 more semester hours (12 courses) are definitely
offered in alternating arrangement.
(See Page 354)
Other Important Institut ions
It is a matter of ordinary observation, at any rate, that
the mere number of semester hours provided for a subject--though
of some significance as an index to its prominence in a school-is by no means the only factor by which its influence is to be
estimated, or the importance of the institution in which it
appears computed.
A number of schools which do not place partic­
ularly high in the data are worthy of mention in any survey of
the teaching of American literature.
example, offers only
6
Harvard University, for
courses in American literature--! six-hour
353
course open to undergraduates and graduates, and 5 purely grad­
uate courses
(2
of which are seminars not assigned definite
credit) totaling only 12 hours.
But the two "seminaries"
(Cooper
and His Contemporaries and Studies in American Literature, 17001765)^ are under the direction of Howard Mumford Jones and The
2
American Novel to 1900
is taught by Kenneth Ballard Murdock.
Authorities and great teachers on a faculty may lend the subject
which they teach greater prestige than can be obtained for it by
multiplication of courses and semester hours.
Again, the wealth
of original research material available at Harvard because of
its location and the extent of its library facilities renders
the institution very important in this field.
Nevertheless, it
is probably not unfair to say that, in comparison with English
literature in the university and in comparison with American lit­
erature in other institutions of equal academic responsibility,
American literatixre was somewhat neglected at Harvard in 19381939.
This neglect is evident only in undergraduate offerings,
however; in purely graduate work Harvard stands high among Amer­
ican universities, with six semester hours in regular courses
plus the two "seminaries" under H. M. Jones.
This potent grad­
uate program, organized into an American Civilization curricu­
lum, makes Harvard an excellent training center for university
teachers of American literature; but a more diverse and exten­
1.
2.
Harvard University, op. cit., p. 150.
L o c . cit.
354
sive undergraduate offering in American literature would attract
and feed up to the graduate courses greater numbers of students
with the general Harvard background.
Again, the University of Pennsylvania, though showing
for 1938-1939— and indeed for any one year— no very remarkable
array of courses in American literature, must be considered one
of the most important schools in this field.
Unlike Harvard,
the university offers a well-balanced undergraduate curriculum
in American literature
uate school offers
6
(6
courses, 12 semester hours); the grad­
more courses comprising
12
semester hours.
The most important phase of its work in American literature,
however, is its provision under the graduate school of arts and
sciences for correlated work for the doctorate in American lit­
erature and American history under the heading American Civili­
zation.^
The program offered by the Group Committee
directing studies in American Civilization
is designed for those who wish to specialize
in the broad field of the development of
social and cultural institutions.
It is
planned for those students who w i s h to com­
bine the study of history with analysis and
understanding of the forms of expression by
which the intellectual and cultural develop­
ment of the nation is marked.
Specially
qualified students in either history or
literature, with the permission of the Group
Committee, may present for the doctorate
courses in the political, social, and eco-
1.
University of Pennsylvania, B ulletin, Graduate school of the
Arts and Sciences, Division of the Humanities, 1938-1939,
pp. 40-44.
355
nomic history of the United States taken in
conjunction with courses in national literary
and cultural development, thereby gaining a
broader knowledge and clearer insight into the
various forces which have created American
civilization.1
The program includes stress on English and Continental history
and literature and the examinations cover American history,
American literature, English literature, and English and Euro­
pean history.
The University of Pennsylvania is further dis­
tinguished by a system of long-term planning of its curriculum
which enables a student, in the course of several years, to
cover the field of American literature quite completely; 8 grad­
uate and 4 undergraduate courses, totaling 24 semester hours,
are definitely announced for future years.
Arthur Hobson Quinn,
an authority on the history of the American drama, Paul H.
Musser, Dean of the College, and Edward S. Bradley instruct in
American literature.
The Clothier and Class of 1894 Collections
of American Drama, the Godfrey Singer Memorial Library of Eng­
lish and American Fiction, and the mass of American literary
material preserved in and about Philadelphia make the Univer­
sity an important center for original research in American
literature•
Duke University, again, is of importance as a center
for the study of American literature out of all proportion to
its rating in hours.
1.
Its American literature courses are by no
University of Pennsylvania, ojo. cit., p. 40.
356
means meager, as universities go (24 semester hours against
a national average of 11.6) but its chief importance is to be
found in its publication of American L i t e r a t u r e a Journal
devoted to the scholarship of American letters as the P.M.L.A.
is to the scholarship of English.
Duke University has amassed
considerable material of use to scholars of American literature,
and in 1938-1939 had the services in this field of Jay B.
Hubbell and Clarence Gohdes.
The presence of Norman Foerster at Iowa State University
is promise that that institution is on the way to becoming a
force in the study of American literature.
Its courses total
in excess of 23 semester hours and include a graduate seminar
under the direction of Foerster.
2
Iowa State University ha&
been notable among American schools as an unusually progressive
and alert instltution--its provision for a piece of imaginative
writing in place of the usual doctoral dissertation is an ex­
ample of its breadth of view— and there seems every reason to
believe that the work in American literature done there is
similarly sound and colorful.
Columbia University offers a surprisingly small amount
of American literature considering its traditional place in the
field— a total of only 13 hours, distributed between 1 two-
1.
2.
Duke University, Bulletin, Catalogue Number 1937-1939,
Announcements 1938-1939.
State University of Iowa, Bulletin, Catalogue Number 19371938, Announcements 1938-1939, p. 204.
357
hour undergraduate course,
1
three-hour undergraduate course
in comparative literature, and 3 three-hour graduate courses.
They are, however, under the highly effective direction of
Ralph L. Rusk (graduate )1 and Charles W. Everett (undergraduate);
2
Columbia
and the impressive American material
available at
and in and about New York City makes
work in the
field extremely profitable there.
In comparison with the broad
curriculum in English literature, the American courses are very
small— only about 5 per cent of the total departmental offering.
Middlebury College
Among American institutions Middlebury College stands
out for distinguished w o r k in American literature.
Of all Amer­
ican institutions studied it is the only one which has a depart­
ment of American literature entirely separate from the English
department; there is corresponding independence, and selfreliance
in the teaching of the subject.
The
total value of the
American
courses is 24 semester hours (considerably greater than
that of most large universities), and the American literature
work comprises 26 per cent of all literature work— English and
American.
1.
2.
The department is under the direction of Reginald
Columbia University, Bulletin, Announcement of the D i v i ­
sion of M o d e m Languages and Literatures 1938-1939,
pp. 12, 13, 14.
Columbia University, Columbia College, Bulletin, Announce­
ment 1938-1939, p. 61.
357
hour undergraduate course,
1
three-hour undergraduate course
in comparative literature, and 3 three-hour graduate courses.
They are, however, under the highly effective direction of
Ralph L. Rusk (graduate )1 and Charles W . Everett (undergraduate);
2
and the impressive American material available at
Columbia and in and about New York City makes work in the
field extremely profitable there,
In comparison with the broad
curriculum in English literature, the American courses are very
small--only about 5 per cent of the total departmental offering.
Middlebury College
Among American institutions Middlebury College stands
out for distinguished work in American literature.
Of all Amer­
ican institutions studied it is the only one which has a depart­
ment of American literature entirely separate from the English
department; there is corresponding independence, and selfreliance in the teaching of the subject.
American courses is 24 semester hours
The total value of the
(considerably greater than
that of most large universities), and the American literature
work comprises 26 per cent of all literature work— English and
American.
1.
2.
The department is under the direction of Reginald
Columbia University, Bulletin, Announcement of the Divi­
sion of Modern Languages and Literatures 1938-1939,
pp. 12, 13, 14.
Columbia University, Columbia College, Bulletin, Announce­
ment 1938-1939, p. 61.
358
Lansing Cook, a young and enthusiastic teacher.
The offerings
of the American Literature department follow.^
21
31
41.1
[41.2
42.2
51
American Literature Survey. "A study of the
main currents of literary thought in
America to 1900, wi th particular emphasis
on selected works of some major writers."
Prerequisite to all other American Litera­
ture courses.
(6 sem. hrs.)
The American Novel.
"A study of the main
tendencies in the development of the novel
in America."
Permission required.
(6 sem.
h rs,)
Contemporary American Poetry. "A study in
contemporary American poetry as revealed in
the work of outstanding poets."
Permission
required.
(3 sem. hrs.)
The American Short Story.
Dermission required.
Not given 1938-1939, but carried as a regular
course.
(3 sem. hrs.)]
Emerson and Thoreau. "An intensive study of
the work of major American authors who have
made important contributions to American
thought."
Permission required.
(3 sem. hrs.)
Special Research Course. "Open to qualified
students. Recommended for Seniors prepar­
ing to obrain honors in American Literature."
Permission required.
(6 sem. hrs.)
The fact that all courses above the survey level are "P er ­
mission required" courses suggests that American literature
is a popular subject at Middlebury, that enrollments of classes
in it are kept within teachable limits, and that the students
who finally make up those classes are superior to the average.
This curriculum is well balanced and reasonably well rounded
although there is no course in the American drama, and several
1.
Middlebury College, op. cit., p. 35.
359
additional individual American authors might well be made the
subjects of courses.
But as it stands the American literature
department is sound and effective in alignment.
Middlebury
does not offer graduate work, and prefers, In general, to train
thoroughly and well relatively/ small numbers of students;
In
accordance with this policy the American literature department
cannot be expected to display a vast array of courses.
Never­
theless, the department is worthy of the place that Middlebury
held in the early study of American literature in this country,
with a course In American authors beginning at the astonish­
ingly early date 1B48.
(See Page 20)
Universities of New Hampshire, Maine
At least two other of the less expansive institutions
deserve mention for their work in American literature— the Uni­
versity of New Hampshire and the University of Maine.
The Uni­
versity of New Hampshire devotes 25 per cent of its total time
in English and American literature to the study of American
terial.
m a­
Three courses make up the offering (12 semester hours)
which compares very favorably with that of much more pretentious
institutions: 11, 12 Survey of American Literature, 34 Modern
American Poetry, and 63, 64 Advanced American Literature .^
The
last, an undergraduate-graduate course, provides for the treat-
1.
University of New Hampshire, Bulletin, Catalogue Number
1938-1939, pp. 188, 190, 191.
360
ment of a new subject each year, so that during residence a
student may, by repeating the course, cover considerable
ground in American literature.
Harold H. Scudder gives 2 of
the 3 courses.
The University of Maine offers only 2 full and 1 partcourse in American literature
up
21
/
\ 1
(9 hours),
but this work makes
per cent of the school’s total literature offering.
Moreover, the head of the English department, Milton Ellis—
who gives one of the courses— sponsors a series of scholarly
studies In early American literature and has under his direction
a graduate seminar in which American literature may be investi­
gated.
Provision is made for students to major in American
2
history and literature.
Institutions Omitting American Literature, 1958-1959
Nine Institutions appear, during the year 1938-1939,
to have omitted American literature from all consideration in
their curricula.
There are two degrees of this neglect;
some
show no evidence of any provision for American literature;
others offer no c ourse f or that y e a r , but list a c ourse or
courses which are only temporarily omitted.
The following list
no course for 1938-1939, and provide for no course in any
later year: Bryn Mawr, Charleston, Fordham, Georgetown,
1.
2.
University of Maine,
Ibid., p. 185.
ojd.
c i t . , pp. 187-188, 189.
361
Richmond, the University of the South, and St. John's (Annap­
olis, Maryland).
To deal with the last first.
St. John's is in an ex­
perimental stage, under the auspices of the University of
Chicago.
A quotation from the college announcement for 1938-
1939 can best express the philosophy of the institution:
Although we have no new fads in teaching methods,
but rather use all available methods, and de ­
vices, still we have a special interpretation of
the teacher's function. This can best be stated
by saying that the real original and ultimate
teachers at St. John's are the authors of some
hundred of the greatest books of European and
American thought...These are the real teachers,
but we also have a secondary faculty of tutors
and fellows who act as auxiliary intermediaries
between the books and the students.l
The remark "the greatest books of European and American thought"
is promising and shows that there is some consciousness at St.
John's of an American point of view as distinct from European.
But the list of 100 books
2
includes only three works by American
atithors: the Constitution of the United States, the Federalist
Papers, and Principles of Psychology by William James.
It may,
perhaps, be questioned whether the reading of only these— under
the tutelage even of expert and provocative "tutors and fellows"
is likely to supply the student with any important consciousness
of American life or any effective point of departure from which
1.
2.
St. John's College, Catalogue 1938-1939, p. 23.
Ibid., p . 39.
362
to attempt an understanding of our nation and its intellectual
status and development.
There are no "courses" of any sort at
St. John's; hence, inevitably, none in American literature.
But the extent of interest in American literature which pre­
vails there, may, it would seem, be estimated fairly enough
from the amount and kind of American material included in the
list of basic readings.
Bryn Mawr College-'- displays an impressive array of
courses in English literature; the tone of the department ap­
pears, however, to be extremely conservative, and extensive
work in linguistics probably leaves no time for attention to
American material.
The school has been, almost from its begin­
ning, under the influence of German conceptions of scholarship.
2
The College of Charleston has only a very small Eng­
lish offering, and no doubt it is felt there that works of
major aesthetic importance in English literature would have to
be omitted if American literature were included.
The University of the South
finds place in its curric­
ulum for 9 courses in English literature, totaling 54 semester
hours; the omission of any work in American literature here is
somewhat difficult to understand.
The South in general is by
no means indifferent to the teaching of American literature,
1.
2.
3.
Bryn Mawr College, Calendar, Undergraduate Courses 19381939.
College of Charleston, Catalogue 1938-1939.
University of the South, Bulletin. Catalogue 1937-1938,
Announcements 1938-1939,
363
(See Page 369) as witness the extensive offering of such •
schools as South Carolina, Louisiana State, and Duke; and
in an institution which is so considerably concerned with
the training of men for the ministry as is the University of
the South, American literature might well be utilized as a
means of developing comprehension of our national problems
and their cultural backgrounds.
The absence of American literature from the curricu­
lum of Fordham and Georgetown might seem at first glance to
be explicable in terms of scholastic tradition, belief in cer­
tain disciplinary value of the study of Latin and Greek, and
limitations imposed by the sectarian administration of the
institutions.
But the University of Notre Dame, which might
be expected to be equally subject to these influences, has a
very well rounded curriculum in American literature for 19581939— -4 courses, with at least 18 semester hours assignable
to American literature amounting to 15 per cent of its total
English department work in literature.1
Three of the courses
there were under the direction of John Towner Frederick, now
(1941) on the faculty of Northwestern University.
Summary
Examination, of the table immediately following provides
1.
University of Notre Dame, Bulletin. Announcements 19381939, pp. 131-132, 133^
364
an overview of the teaching of American literature in the one
year 1938-1939.
seem permissible:
On that basis the following generalizations
(1) American literature is established as
a course for study on the college level; (2) in 9 institutions
it is thoroughly covered by course allotment;
(3) there is
little difference in distribution of emphasis by geographical
region; (4) there is a very wide gap between the amount of
work offered by the most favorable institutions and that of­
fered by the least favorable; (5) in comparison with Brit­
ish literature. American literature still (1938-1959) does not
receive what could be called extensive attention in most colleges and universities.
365
Overview: American Literature in
Colleges and Universities, 1938-1939
Institution
Per cent
Am. Lit.
(of 2ng.
and Am,
Lit.)
University of Alabama
Amherst College
Antioch College
University of Arizona
University of Arkansas
Barnard College
Bates College
Baylor University
Bowdoin College
Brown University
Bryn Mawr College
Bucknell University
University of Buffalo
University of California
University of Charleston
University of Chicago
Colby College
Colgate University
University of Colorado
Columbia University
Cornell University
Dartmouth College
University of Delaware
DePauw University
Dickinson College
Drury College
Duke University
University of Florida
Fordham University
Franklin & Marshall College
George Washington University
Georgetown University
University of Georgia
Hamilton College
Iiampden-Sydney College
Harvard University
Haverford College
Heidelberg College
18
17
Sem. Hrs.
in Am.
Lit. as
such
'Sem. Hrs.
in Am.
Lit. as
such
plus
parts of
other
courses
18
18
10
8
12
6
6
12
6
6
18
9
12
6
6
20
0
15
18
20
22
0
17
13
6
0
23
11
6
31.5
0
6
.
45.5
6
17
9
12
11
3
0
0
12
5
10.5
9
7
25
27
4
16
Graduate
Courses
(Gradu­
ates
only)
15
4
16
0
1
■
45.5
2
6
12
12
13
1
16
25
21
6
12
7
9
3
18
8.5
12
24
3
9
24
0
12
0
12
0
25
23
5
27
5
27
0
0
0
11
29
3
3
4
5
10
0
12
0
12
0
17
4
4
17
17
15
6
2
1
1
5
366
Overview
Institution
(Continued)
Per cent
Am. Lit.
(of E n g .
and Am.
L i t .)
Sem. Hrs.
in Am.
Lit. as
such
Sem. Hrs
in Am.
Lit. as
such
plus
Graduate
Courses
(Graduates
only)
parts of
other
courses
Hobart College
Howard College
Howard University
Hunter College
University of Idaho
University of Illinois
Indiana University
University of Iowa
Johns Hopkins University
University of Kansas
University of Kentucky
Lafayette College
Louisiana State University
University of Maine
University of Maryland
Miami University
University of Michigan
Middlebury College
University of Minnesota
University of Mississippi
University of Missouri
Montana State University
Mount Holyoke College
University of Nebraska
University of Nevada
University of New Hampshire
University of New Mexico
College of the City of N. Y.
New York University
University of North Carolina
University of North Dakota
Northwestern University
University of Notre Dame
Oberlin College
Ohio State University
Ohio University
University of Oklahoma
University of Oregon
25
17
6
6
22
6
33
3
14
6
6
11
7
16
12
8
10
10
20
21
12
21
6
8
9
6
10
6
33
4.5
11.5
7
12
23.5
5
24
25
15
21
10
10
7
36
15
14
15
15
13
4
56
16.5
7
70
23.5
12
21
24
18
22
24
13
9
26
17
19
18
12
8
10
18
11
11
6
12
24
20
12
15
8
9
4
6
6
15
14
18
27
1
1
2
6
8
12
6
31.5
15
17.5
10.5
13
24
24
15
18
9.5
9
5.5
9
15
30
15
16
4
12
11.5
17.5
16
18
27
3
1
1
1
1
1
3
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
367
Overview
Institutions
(Continued)
Per
cent Gem. H r s .
Am. Lit.
in Am.
(of
Eng. Lit. as
and Am.
such
Lit.)
University of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State College
University of Pittsburgh
Princeton University
Purdue University
Randolph-Macon College
University of Richmond
University of Rochester
Rutgers University
St. John's College (Maryland)
St. Lawrence University
St. Louis University
Smith College
University of the South
University of South Carolina
University of South Dakota
University of Southern
California
Stanford University
Swarthmore College
Syracuse University
Temple University
University of Tennessee
University of Texas
Trinity College (Connecticut)
Tufts College
Tulane University
Union College
University of Utah
Vanderbilt University
Vassar College
University of Vermont
University of Virginia
University of Washington
Washington University
Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Lee College
Wellesley College
28
18
18
24
42
2
3
9
17
17
22
Sem. H r s .
in Am.
Lit. as
such
plus
parts of
other
courses
26
43.5
28
3
13.5
0
10
6
0
6
6
0
6
25
24
27
0
10
0
6
6
0
6
11
0
15
18
32
15
30
30
9
.14
13.5
5
0
8
31
13.5
12
12
15
11
12
21
6
11
6
0
9
14
12
6
6
12
6
0
6
12
1
8
15
6.5
15
1
0
31.5
19
19
17
14
17
14
15
14
16
17
18
13
9
14
9
6
4
7
12
6
6
Graduate
Courses
(Gradu­
ates
only)
1
1
14
21
6
2 (?)
9
7.5
6
8
19.5
15
1
8
9
13.5
6
0
6
12
1
568
Overview
(Continued)
Per cent
A m . Li t .
(of Eng.
and Am.
Lit.)
Institutions
Wesleyan University
Western Reserve Universitv
West Virginia University
College of William 5: Mary
’Williams College
University of Wisconsin
University of Wyoming
Yale University
Sem. Hrs.
in A m .
Lit. as
such
Sem. Hrs
in A m .
Lit. as
such
plus
parts of
other
courses
16
6
22
24
9
30
18
20
20
11
9
15
6
6
21
25
27
15
8
8
12
10
24
8
8
23
8
10
8
10.5
Teachers Colleges
Arizona State Teachers
College (Flagstaff)
East Carolina State
Teachers College
East Illinois State
Teachers College
Fresno State College
George Peabody College
Iowa State Teachers College
Milwaukee State Teachers
College
New Jersey State Teachers
College (Montclair)
New York State College
(Albany)
North Texas State Teachers
College
San Diego State College
San Francisco State College
Santa Barbara State College
West Kentucky State Teachers
College
West Washington College
of Education
3
3
8
8
10
12
7
7
13
6
6
17
4
11
14
8
9
10
21
18
14
13
17
18
17
12
19
9
9
6
10
21
18
6
11
3.5
10.5
11
10
Graduate
Courses
(GradU"
ates
only)
1
369
Overview
(Concluded.)
Per cent
Am, Lit.
(of L’ng.
and Am.
Lit.)
Sem, Hrs.
In Am.
L i t . as
such
Sem. Hrs.
in Am.
Lit. as
such
plus
parts of
other
courses
Totals
Averages
State and National Uni­
versities (47)
Private and Other Uni­
versities (72)
Women's Colleges (9)
All institutions (119)
As above less 9 with
0 American Literature
Northeastern States (54)
Southern States (26)
Middle States (24)
Western States (15)
All Institutions (119)
15.5
14.4
13.8
13.9
14.7
14.4
11.0
11.6
13.1
15.4
13.2
13.8
Teachers Colleges
16.6
7.6
9.8
(15)
Graduate
Courses
(Gradu­
ates
only)
15.8
14.4
16.2
38
13.4
9.8
14.4
9.9
12.5
25
8.1
11.6
8.2
0
12.6
11.1
11.8
13.3
13.8
14.9
12.6
30
13
12
6
Regional Divisions
Northeastern: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts,
Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania,
Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia (12)
Southern: Virginia, 7/est Virginia, North Carolina, South
Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana,
Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky (14)
Middle: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota,
Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas (10)
Western: Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington,
Oregon, Wyoming, Colorado, California, New Mexico, Arizona,
Utah, Nevada (13)
CHAPTER VI
CONCLUSIONS
Backgrounds
The study of American literature in colleges and uni­
versities in the United States came into existence as an aspect
of the study of English literature.
Work in this field had d e ­
veloped much earlier in the United States than in England, and
by 1870 English, literature had a place in many American insti­
tutions .
Other subjects in the old time college ourriculum con­
tributed to academic awaremess of the literary materials of the
United States, notably oratory, with a strong historical flavor,
and belles lettres.
Little work was done in American litera­
ture in colleges before 1870, but Amherst (1827-29) , Middlebury
(1848 — ), and Heidelberg
logues.
(1858-59) all mention it in their cata­
Whatever the interest of an individual here and there,
the time was not ripe, and the courses did not have academic in­
fluence.
Retarding influences upon the development of American
literature in these years were lack of respect for non-classical
materials, prejudice against dealing with living authors
(and
in this period the important American literary men were still
alive) , and general meagerness of resources and point of view
370
371
on the part of Institutions and faculties.
Combination text­
books like the Shaw -Tu clcerman Manual and Outline were insep­
arable from combination courses and in the years before 1870
American literature was taught simply as a minor phase of Eng­
lish literature.
The Pioneers
During the period 1870-1890 individual scholars and
teachers in a few institutions moved toward a separation of
American literature and British literature.
The sense of dif­
ference was probably not very strong as a rule; M. C. Tyler,
the instigator of an early and important course in American
literature, regarded it as an adjunct to English literature.
Tyler is the most important single figure during this period,
though in point of time John S. Hart taught a course in Amer­
ican literature at Princeton one year earlier than Tyler.
In general during this period, separation was taking
place between the t w o subjects.
In a modest way, American lit­
erature courses were increasing.
Two important publications were M. C. Tyler's A History
of American Literature, 1607-1765 and John S. Har t’s Manual of
American Literature.
Settlement
In the years between 1890 and the close of the First
372
’World War American literature became really established as a
college subject.
The separation from English literature
courses became evident in the first decade; combination courses
lost ground throughout the period until by 1918 they were rare.
In 1891 an important book, from a "separatist"
point of view,
was published— Greenough White's Philosophy of American Litera­
ture .
The general recognition of American literature as a
genre somewhat different from EJritish literature was probably
a result of these influences:
(1) the recognition of the West
and South as literary material and the movement toward regional
literature;
(2) American pride in the United States as a conse­
quence of the Spanish-American Gar; (3) the increasing intrin­
sic strength of American literature Itself;
(4) the growing
realization of social and economic problems and their influence
upon literary production;
(5) the spectacle, after 1914-, of a
revered civilization declining into brutality.
Courses in this period became more frequent.
Institu­
tions here and there added advanced courses to the usual sur­
vey.
The sociological flavor became more and more marked in
course descriptions.
Publicity was given the problems of American literature
in the 'nineties by the "Is There An American Literature?" con­
troversy in the Chicago Dial.
During this period the first
magazine article advocating American literary study on the col­
lege level appeared under the authorship of Newton L. Hall.
373
Graduate work in American literature became noteworthy
and certain institutions, under the guidance of individual pro­
fessors laid down a tradition of scholarship in American litera­
ture.
Notable among these were Chicago (P. H. Boynton), Brown
(Walter Bronson), Pennsylvania
State (F. L. Pattee).
(A. H. Guinn), and Pennsylvania
Although American literature courses did
not increase so rapidly as English literature courses, our native
letters were given a modicum of definite and respectful atten­
tion in colleges during these years.
Expansion, Solidification, Refinement
In the period between the end of the World War and 1938
American literature continued to struggle upward In college
curricula.
Its increase in "area" in these years was less re­
markable than its internal expansion in several prominent insti­
tutions.
Chicago, New York University, Howard University, the
University of Washington and the University of Oregon were par­
ticularly prominent.
V. L. Parrington's career lies within
these years.
The most remarkable features of expanding curricula
were the courses in new fields of American literature— the drama,
short story, and novel.
Advanced courses in movements and
strands of philosophy of American literature became prevalent.
Three important "events" between 1918 and 1938 were:
(1) the founding of a separate department of American litera-
374
ture at Middlebury College in 1923-24;
(2) the founding of
American Literature at Luke University in 1929;
(3) the publi­
cation of V. L. Parrington’s Main Currents in American T ho ught,
1927, 1930.
A feature of the later years of this period was
the formation, at Harvard, Yale, Pennsylvania, and New York
University, of curricula permitting a student to take an a d ­
vanced degree in the general field of American life and letters.
After 1918 articles surveying the teaching of American
literature in colleges or advocating its expansion appeared
with greater frequency In periodicals and scholarly journals.
American literature as a college subject had made vigorous
friends and a secure place for itself in the world of higher
education.
The Status Quo
By 1938-1939, 9 institutions were, in extent of course
offerings, leading the field in teaching American literature.
These were, in order of extent of offering: New York University,
the University of Chicago, Pennsylvania State College, Howard
University, University of South Carolina, Brown University,
Louisiana State University, University of Southern California,
and Western Reserve University.
The average collegiate offering
in American literature was 11.6 semester hours; the average per
cent (American courses compared to total literature courses
under English departments) was 14.7.
In other words, the aver­
375
age offering was a little less than
2
six-point courses, and
comprised about one-seventh of the total literature work in
the English department.
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376
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383
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APPENDIX
AMERICAN LITERATURE IN STATE REQUIREMENTS
FOR TEACHERS' CERTIFICATES
Based on information received from state
deoartments of education, July and August,
1940
395
Of the 48 state departments of education which were
queried, 10 mentioned work in American literature as a def­
inite prerequisite for at least one type of teaching certifi­
cate, and 12 more indicated that they assumed that American
literature had been covered by the candidate in college courses.
The following tabulations indicate the status of American lit­
erature in 1940 so far as state authorities were concerned.
Georgia:
Eng. and Am. literature, 24 sem.hrs.
Mississippi:
Am. literature, 6 sem. hrs.
New Jersey:
Am. literature, no amount stated
No. Carolina:
Eng. and Am. literature, 24 sem. hrs.
Ohio:
Am, literature, 3 sem. hrs.
Oklahoma:
Am. literature, 6 sem. hrs.
So. Carolina:
Am. literature, 12 sem. hrs.
So. Dakota:
Am. literature, 2 sem. hrs.
Utah:
Am. literature, 10 sem. hrs.
W. Virginia:
Am. literature, 3 sem. hrs.
Alabama:
Eng. or Am. Survey (Elementary certificate)
Illinois:
Assumed as part of English preparation
Iowa:
Required of Am. literature teachers only
Kentucky:
Eng. or Am. literature; left to colleges
Maryland:
Perhaps to be required later
Michigan:
Usually included in college course
Nebraska:
Am. literature teachers, 6 sem. hrs.
No. Dakota:
Eng. or Am. literature, 4 q. hrs.
Rhode Island:
Assumed as part of English preparation
Tennessee:
Indefinite; left to colleges
Washington:
Assumed as part of English preparation
Wisconsin:
Indefinite; left to colleges
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