The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
French

Louis Fasquelle, 1847-62. — A course in French was announced for the first time in the Catalogue for 1846-47. This course was given in the last third of the sophomore year. Another term was added in the autumn of 1848, the first term of the junior year. There was no indication of the content or character of these courses. However, in the Catalogue for 1852-53, under the heading of modern languages, was the following statement: "The course of instruction in this department occupies one daily recitation during six terms, or two years. One half of the time is devoted to the French language, the other half to the German." There followed a description of each term's work, with the titles of the textbooks used and of the literary works read.

Although in the Catalogue Fasquelle was designated as Professor of Modern Languages and Literature from 1854 onward, the instruction offered in French presented no change of consequence until 1858-59, when it was extended from one year to three semesters, beginning in the sophomore year and continuing through the junior year. In 1859-60 the program was again limited to two semesters, but Adam Knight Spence ('58, A.M. '61), formerly Instructor in Greek only, was made Instructor in Greek and French.

The professors at the University in its early days are reputed to have been rather picturesque characters, and not the least picturesque among them, apparently, was Louis Fasquelle, whose struggles with the intricacies of English pronunciation, accent, and emphasis, not to mention idiom, gave rise to many stories that ultimately became classic and of general application. He was born in 1808 near Calais, France. His education he received at the famous École Polytechnique in Paris. He studied also in Germany. Because of his participation in the revolutionary movement of 1830, he left France for England, where he taught French and married. In 1832 he came to the United States. "He bought a farm in Michigan and divided his time between farming and the teaching of French to private pupils until his appointment to the chair of Modern Languages…" (Hinsdale, p. 223). For this post he was well fitted, because of his training, travels, and teaching experience. Virtually a pioneer in the field, he published during the last decade of his life (1852-61) a comprehensive series of textbooks for the teaching of French which, widely used throughout the country, contributed not a little to the prestige of the University. As a professor he proved "peculiar but very learned and proficient." He was considered one of the University's "brightest ornaments and one of the most faithful, devoted and useful members of its Academic Faculty," and his death in October, 1862, left a vacancy "not easily to be supplied" (R.P., 1837-64, p. 1033).

Edward P. Evans, 1862-70. — After serving for a year as an instructor Edward Payson Evans ('54) became head of the department as Professor of Modern Languages and Literature in October, 1863. It may be noted in passing that he was apparently the first University officer charged officially with keeping the records of the alumni.

Evidence of increased interest in the study of modern languages and literature, or of greater ambition on the part of the staff, may be seen in the announcement Page  717in the Catalogue for 1863-64 that the subjects taught in the department were: (1) the French and German languages, (2) French and German literature, and (3) the general principles of comparative philology.

In 1864 another year of French was added to the scientific curriculum, and when the Latin and scientific course was introduced in 1867, two and one-half semesters of French were included in it. At the same time, however, one-half of the recommended year of French in the classical course was made optional.

George S. Morris, 1870-79. — George Sylvester Morris (Dartmouth '61, Ph.D. hon. Michigan '81) was appointed to the professorship of modern languages and literature in 1870. In his first year he was assisted by Instructor Jules Frederick Billard (Hobart '58, A.M. ibid. '61, M.D. Howard Univ. '84) in French and by Augustus Maasberg in German. The next year Robert Harbison replaced Maasberg, and there were two younger men teaching French, Billard and Paul Rousseau Bellon de Pont, Instructor in French and Drawing, who had prepared in both arts and science at the Collège Rollin, Paris. The content and number of the courses in 1871-72 remained substantially the same, except that in all French classes French conversation and composition were included. Alfred Hennequin (A.M. hon. '73, Ph.D. Lenox Collegiate Inst. '82) became Instructor in French in 1872, succeeding Billard. In 1872-73 it was announced that the courses in French would thereafter be essentially changed, and the following year it was stated that the work would be "directed in general towards increased practical facility in speaking and writing." Candidates for admission to the classical course were advised to study French at least one year before entering the University, but for admission to the other courses French was required. Mention was made in the Calendar for 1874-75 of the "large facilities for the study of the Modern Languages with reference to the oral use of them, or to the reading of foreign treatises on Science."

Morris had had excellent preparation in philosophy and was eager to continue in that subject. For several years after 1877 he divided his time between Johns Hopkins and the University of Michigan, teaching at Baltimore from Christmas vacation until the second semester. He attempted to resign from the University of Michigan in June, 1879, but consented to remain one more semester while his successor, Edward Lorraine Walter ('68, Ph.D. Leipzig '77), completed certain studies abroad. Walter had been an assistant professor in the Department of Latin since 1868 and acting head of that department for two years. In 1881-82 Morris returned to Ann Arbor to teach his favorite subject, philosophy. From 1870 until his death in 1889, he served on the faculty during at least a part of every academic year except 1880-81, and his thought had a profound effect upon the scholarly life and reputation of the University.

Edward L. Walter, 1879-98. — In July, 1887, Edward L. Walter and another member of the department, Calvin Thomas ('74, A.M. '77, LL.D. '04), presented to the Regents a memorial in which they urged that the Department of Modern Languages be divided, and that there be established "in lieu of the present single professorship of Modern Languages, two professorships, one of Romance Languages and Literatures and one of Germanic Languages and Literatures." Figures were presented to show that the Department of Modern Languages was then the largest in the University, and reference was made to the growth of modern philology and to the practice in German universities and in some of the universities of this country, Page  718such as Johns Hopkins, Bryn Mawr, Cornell, and Indiana. The memorial read in part as follows:

So far as our own University is concerned, a considerable extension in the scope of its instruction is desirable. There should be continuous instruction in both Italian and Spanish. Opportunity should also be offered as soon as possible to advanced students for the study of Old French, Provençal and Portuguese, and also for work in the Comparative Philology of the Romance tongues. In the Germanic field, more work of a philological character for advanced students is needed.


(R.P., 1886-91, p. 135.)

The Board immediately took favorable action and appointed Calvin Thomas to the professorship of the Germanic languages and literatures and E. L. Walter to that of the Romance languages and literatures — a position which, along with the headship of the department, he held until his death in the wreck of "La Bourgogne" on July 4, 1898.

George A. Hench, 1898-99. — George Allison Hench (Lafayette '85, Ph.D. Johns Hopkins '89), head of the Department of German, was then made acting head of the Department of Romance Languages, but this interim appointment was brought to an unfortunate end by his death in an accident in the summer of 1899. President James B. Angell thereupon assumed personal charge and directed the affairs of the department throughout the next academic year.

Arthur G. Canfield, 1900-1926. — In 1900 Arthur Graves Canfield (Williams '78, A.M. ibid. '81, Litt.D. Michigan '35) was appointed Professor of Romance Languages and head of the department. He retired as administrative head of the department in May, 1926, but continued his teaching until he became Emeritus Professor in 1929.

Registrar de Pont died March 1, 1906, after thirty-five years of teaching French in the department. In 1912 John Robert Effinger ('91, Ph.D. '98), who had entered the department as Instructor in 1892, was promoted to a full professorship and made Acting Dean of the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts. He was appointed to the deanship three years later. In spite of the increase in his administrative duties Dean Effinger continued his services to the department until his death in 1933.

During Canfield's chairmanship of the department the number of courses offered was increased from thirty to well over fifty, the teaching staff was correspondingly enlarged, seminars were organized, principally for graduate students, the journal club was organized (see p. 721) to give to members of the department and advanced students an opportunity to review and discuss in common at frequent regular intervals the results of current research, and the teachers' course was further developed. Gradually the offerings in French conversation and writing, in Romance philology, and in modern and contemporary French literature and civilization were increased.

Professor Canfield did much by precept and example — both in his teachers' course and outside it — to encourage and improve modern language teaching in the schools throughout the state. His own special fields of interest were and still are the study of the beginnings of romanticism and realism, various aspects of the study of Balzac and his works, particularly the question of chronology and the matter of reappearing characters. His published contributions on these subjects are recognized by competent scholars as distinctly significant. When on his retirement the Regents in a tribute mentioned his "quietly efficient devotion to his work and his unusual ability to co-operate with others, and a gentleness of nature which have made him a delightful colleague and well-beloved Page  719teacher," they were but voicing the feelings of his fellows both inside and outside the department, in fact of all privileged to know him.

Hugo P. Thieme, 1926-40. — At the June meeting of the Regents in 1926 Professor Hugo Paul Thieme (Johns Hopkins '93, Ph.D. ibid. '97) was appointed Chairman. He had come to the University as an instructor in French in 1898 and had advanced to a full professorship in 1914. In the fourteen years of his chairmanship he displayed remarkable energy and exercised his gift for organization and his talent for systematization. Under his vigorous guidance the previous development of courses was continued. In oral French and French composition the work was reorganized and new courses were introduced, the offerings in Romance philology were further expanded, and more intense and specialized instruction in modern and contemporary literature was provided. He paid particular attention to the development of the courses on the graduate level.

Professor Thieme was to have retired on June 30, 1940, but he died on June 2, after a severe illness of several months, and Hayward Keniston (Harvard '04, Ph.D. ibid. '11) was called from the University of Chicago to be Professor of Romance Languages and Chairman of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. Professor Thieme had been in the department for forty-two years and was a member of the council of the Société des textes français modernes and American correspondent of the Revue d'histoire littéraire de la France. For his scholarly work and for his tireless efforts in behalf of an understanding of French culture in this country, he was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1923; in 1929 he received the Prix de la langue of the French Academy; and his great bibliography was crowned, upon its publication, by the Academy.

Since the new organization was adopted in 1933 (see p. 715), the department has been administered by a chairman and an executive committee of four appointed by the dean and executive committee of the College. This provides for greater participation on the part of the staff in matters of administration and policy.

The period of the World War. — As might be expected, the peak in the study of French was reached in 1918-19, when French 1, a four-hour course, was given at every hour from 8 A.M. to 3 P.M. inclusive, and seventeen instructors were employed, two of whom were women. These two, Mme Pargment and Mme Pawlowski, were designated as teaching assistants in French. That year several members of the University faculty who normally taught German — Professors Wait, Scholl, and Lee — were busy teaching beginning French. Among those teaching second-year French were Professors Bonner and Winter of the Departments of Greek and Latin. Michael S. Pargment (Dipl. d'études univ., Paris '11) gave an intermediate course in military French for enlisted men in the Students' Army Training Corps. In this course special emphasis was placed on the spoken language. Jean Petit gave an advanced course in military French, which was open to men in military training who had had more than two years of French. Emphasis was placed on spoken French for the military services. Similar courses were given in the College of Engineering. During the war, several members were on leave: Assistant Professor René Talamon (Lic.-ès-lettres [lettres], Paris '00, Lic.-ès-lettres [langues], ibid. '01), for the duration of the war in service with the French army; Herbert Alden Kenyon, then an assistant professor, in Washington with the Military Intelligence Division of the General Staff; Instructor Harry Carleton Barnett (Dartmouth '12, A.M. Michigan '17), with a Page  720hospital unit in a southern camp; Assistant Professor Philip Everette Bursley ('02, A.M. '09), in Paris at the American University Union; and Instructor Eugène Étienne Rovillain (Columbia '15, A.M. Michigan '18), in France with the French forces. As soon as the army was installed at Camp Custer, Battle Creek, Michigan, Canfield, accompanied at first by Rovillain and William Aloysius McLaughlin (Harvard '03, A.M. ibid. '20), then Assistant Professor, and later by Professor Thieme, set out once a week to give three lessons in French to the officers. This continued for months. Eventually Thieme superseded Canfield and during the summer was in uniform in complete charge of French at the camp and attached to the Y.M.C.A.

French conversation. — To make certain that students have an ample opportunity to perfect themselves in French pronunciation and to acquire facility in conversation, the staff has always included a number of teachers whose native tongue was French or who were bilingual. Notable among these have been Assistant Professors Paul R. B. de Pont and André Béziat de Bordes (Ph.D. Chicago '99), Jean B. Cloppet (Lic. en phil., Coll. Propaganda [Rome] '06, Doc. en phil., ibid. '08), and Louis Chapard (Dipl. d'études supérieures de droit publique, Paris '25, Dipl. d'études supérieures de droit privé, ibid. '26). This work is now under the direction of Associate Professor Talamon, assisted by other staff members, particularly by Assistant Professor Charles Emile Koëlla (Lic.-ès-lettres classiques, Lausanne '11).

Visiting professors. — In 1925-26 Professor Charles Cestre (Lic.-ès-lettres, Paris '93, Agrégé d'anglais, ibid. '95, Doc.-ès-lettres, ibid. '06), lecturer on American literature at the Sorbonne, gave a course called La Société française contemporaine d'après la littérature et d'après la vie. Already in 1921 he had given a course of six University lectures on the contribution of France to the universal ideal of mankind. In 1929-30 Professor Henri Chamard (Lic.-ès-lettres, Paris '88, Agrégé des lettres '90, Doc.-ès-lettres, Paris '00), of the Sorbonne, offered two courses, one on French literature of the sixteenth century and the other on that of the seventeenth century. In 1922-23 an innovation was introduced by the appointment to the staff of Marcel Clavel (Lic.-ès-lettres, Paris '19, Dipl. d'études supérieures, Lille '20, Agrégé d'anglais, Paris '21), who announced a course called French Classicism in England, intended for students specializing in English or French. The following year Clavel offered in addition La Littérature française par l'explication de textes and a course on Rousseau and England. In 1929, after Clavel's return to France, Jean Edouard Ehrhard (Lic.-ès-lettres, Paris '23, Dipl. d'études supérieures, ibid. '27, Agrégé des lettres '28) was appointed Assistant Professor. He gave a course in French literature dealing with the main literary movements in France from the middle of the nineteenth century to the present day, and another, Explication de textes. Ehrhard returned to France after a few years.

Graduate studies. — Graduate courses in the field of the Romance languages have been given at the University for over eighty years. In 1858-59 the Catalogue contained a "Programme of Studies for the Degrees of A.M. and M.S.," in which a course in French literature by Fasquelle was announced for the first semester. For many years thereafter a similar course was offered. In the petition for the establishment of separate departments for the Germanic and the Romance languages in 1887 it was urged that the instruction in both Italian and Spanish should be continuous, and that as soon as possible advanced students Page  721should have an opportunity to study Old French, Provençal, and Portuguese. In fact, Old French was offered for the first time in 1889, Provençal in 1900, and Portuguese in 1894. Old French and Provençal have been announced continuously since those dates, but, up to June, 1940, Portuguese was not offered again. Since 1914 the work in Provençal has been given by Edward Larrabee Adams (Harvard '00, Ph.D. ibid. '07).

Only a very general statement regarding graduate work in French appeared in the Graduate School Announcement before 1899, when the names of instructors and more detailed course descriptions were first given and the number of courses began to increase. In 1900 there was a distinct expansion in this work — an expansion which has continued until at present there are advanced courses dealing with every period of French literature from its origin to the present day, the various literary genres — criticism, drama, lyric poetry, the novel — the early history of the language, civilization, and the history of ideas. Today, requirements for advanced degrees, as well as programs of preliminary examinations according to the field of major interest, are very definitely set forth. The department has been enriched by the advent of specialists in various fields who devote much of their time and attention to initiating candidates into the problems of research, training them in methods, and critically supervising their work as it progresses. There has been a marked increase of late in the number of doctorates granted and in the number of doctoral theses in preparation in this department.

Summer session. — Courses in French have been offered in the summer session since its inception in 1894. Of late years a sufficient number of graduate students have been in attendance to warrant the offering of an increased number of graduate courses in French. In order to give summer session students an opportunity for a practical use of French, a Maison Française has been organized, in which board, room, and recreation facilities for a limited number of women are provided. A Cercle Français has also been organized for the benefit of summer session students, both men and women.

Societies. — In the Calendar of 1901-2 an announcement was made of a journal club in which reviews were given of current research in the field of Romance languages and literatures by the instructors in the department and advanced students. The journal club continues — though under another name, the Romance club — and now meets periodically throughout the year for the same purpose as indicated in 1901.

The Cercle Français (see Part IX: Cercle Français), organized in 1902 by and for students interested in French, has effectively supplemented the oral work.

Publications. — Among the more outstanding publications by the staff, aside from editions of textbooks, are Thieme's three-volume Bibliographie de la littérature française de 1880 à 1930 (1933), Adams' Word Formation in Provençal (1913), Newton S. Bement's French Modal Syntax in the Sixteenth Century (1934), and Warner F. Patterson's Three Centuries of French Poetic Theory (1935).