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


THE study of Romance languages at the University was provided for in 1846 by the appointment of Louis Fasquelle to the professorship of modern languages, a chair that had been specifically listed in the organic act of 1837 as one for which provision should be made. His actual service did not begin, however, until May, 1847.

French was the first modern language taught in the University; it has been given continuously since the spring of 1847. According to the Catalogue, a short course in Italian was introduced in the fall of 1848 and one in Spanish in the spring of 1849, but, when German was begun the next fall, Italian and Spanish were dropped, and neither was revived for about twenty years.

This early development of modern language instruction was in accord with a general recognition among Eastern colleges of the desirability of these studies. Longfellow had been appointed professor of modern languages at Bowdoin in 1829 and professor of modern languages and belles-lettres at Harvard in 1836. Nevertheless, few permanent chairs in the modern languages were established; most of the colleges offering such studies gave them only sporadically and unsystematically. The early appointment of Fasquelle to a professorship of modern languages — perhaps the first to be maintained in the Middle West — was evidence of the progressive spirit characteristic of the framers of the curriculum, although the claim made by the Board of Visitors in 1848 that "in this respect the University possesses superior privileges" no doubt indicated a limited point of view (see Part III: Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures).

Throughout the period 1847-87 there was a professor of modern languages. A second full professorship was set up in the department in 1867, when Adam K. Spence, who had taught French continuously since the fall of 1859, as well as Greek (1858-67) and Latin (1860-63), Page  715was appointed Professor of the French Language and Literature. In the autumn of 1870, upon the resignations of Spence and of Edward P. Evans, Professor of Modern Languages, the Board of Regents found the time opportune for a change of policy. Henry S. Frieze, who was then Acting President, later described the situation in the following words:

In 1870 the resignation of the professors of German and French in the University of Michigan led the regents to adopt the plan of organizing the instruction in modern languages under one professor with assistant instructors; and they authorized the Acting President to engage someone competent to take charge of the department.

(Frieze, p.70.)

The professorship of the French language and literature was thereupon discontinued for the time, and an attempt was made to bring in foreign-born instructors to teach the elementary work in their native languages. Soon afterward two instructors in French and one in German were giving the elementary and intermediate work, and the department head was teaching the intermediate and advanced French and senior German, in addition to a class in Italian.

In 1887 the Regents granted a departmental petition requesting the formation of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures.

In 1889 special courses in French and German for engineering students were segregated. The Department of Engineering was made a separate unit in 1895, but until 1904 the French and Spanish credited toward graduation in engineering continued to be given in the Department of Romance Languages. In May of that year the Regents appointed William Henry Wait (Northwestern '79, Ph.D. Allegheny '88), who had conducted German classes for engineering students since 1901, Professor of Modern Languages in the Department of Engineering, and it was not until 1928 that the work in German and the Romance languages was transferred back to the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. In 1931, by a vote of the faculty of the College of Engineering, foreign languages were eliminated as subjects required for graduation, and as a result the enrollment in Romance languages dropped from 2,571 (1930-31) to 2,201 (1931-32). As early as 1914, to provide for the special needs of students in science, Alfred O. Lee, then Assistant Professor of Modern Languages in the Department of Engineering, offered a course in the reading of French scientific works and current journals.

Aside from the changes in the method of providing language instruction for engineering students, the only major change in the structure of the Department of Romance Languages was the introduction in 1933 of the new form of administration by a committee acting with the chairman, similar to the reorganized government of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts which went into effect in August of that year (see Part III: Administration and Curriculums).

During the past hundred years the Romance language staff has been augmented to meet increases in enrollment, courses have been multiplied to satisfy the growing demand and a constantly developing interest, new fields of study have been opened up in response to various needs as these became apparent, and graduate work has been fostered and intensified. From its very modest beginnings the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures has expanded until at the present its staff numbers three professors, seven associate professors, seven assistant professors, thirteen instructors, and four teaching fellows. In 1940 it had an enrollment of 1,893 at the end of the second semester and offered Page  716forty courses — seven elementary, nine intermediate, and twenty-four advanced.

The old Museum was remodeled for the use of the department in 1928 and was designated the Romance Language Building.


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).


Spanish was listed for the first time in the Catalogue of 1848-49. A short course was offered by Professor Louis Fasquelle in the third term of the junior year. This course must have been given as announced, for on July 16, just before Commencement, the secretary of the faculty recorded that a certain junior, Samuel Harper, was found deficient in Spanish.

There was no further mention of Spanish until the spring of 1868, when it was listed with Italian as a senior elective in Page  722all the curriculums in the Literary Department except that for mining engineering. Instruction in these two languages was offered again during parts of the next two academic years. It appears that from 1870-71 through 1886-87 Italian and Spanish were given alternately, first by Professor George S. Morris, and then, beginning in 1880, by Professor Edward L. Walter. A prerequisite of one year of French was established in 1881, not to be removed until 1909. In 1884 Spanish was expanded to a two-semester course. Instruction in Spanish has been continuous since 1886, except for one semester in 1888.

When the first-year Spanish work was taken over by Eugene Leser (Ph.D. Berlin '87) in 1893-94 an additional course was offered — a one-semester, one-hour course on Calderon by Professor Walter. Benjamin Parsons Bourland ('89, Ph.D. Vienna '97) had charge of the elementary courses in 1894-95. The following year he went abroad to study, and Moritz Levi ('87) taught the elementary courses. A fourth semester of Spanish, a one-hour course on Don Quixote, was introduced in 1895-96. In 1898, with the return of Bourland to take full charge of the work in Spanish, the two first-year courses became three-hour courses, and those in the second year were also increased to two hours each. It was not until 1909 that the two courses comprising the first year's work were converted into four-hour courses. A third-year course on Cervantes and the literary history of the Golden Age was added in 1900. From 1901 to 1904, when all the work in Spanish except that for the engineering students was in the hands of Winthrop Holt Chenery (Mass. Inst. Technol. '96, Ph.D. Harvard '04), there were no changes made in the courses offered.

In 1904, with the coming of Charles Philip Wagner (Yale '99, Ph.D. ibid. '02), there began a period of gradual growth and expansion that has continued to the present day. Until 1913 evidence of this interest in Spanish was to be seen in the constant increase in the number and variety of advanced courses offered; after 1913 that interest was most apparent in the addition of sections and the consequent increase in personnel. For example, in 1903 one section was sufficient to care for all beginning students, but in 1914 it was necessary to provide five sections, in 1916 twelve, and in 1919 fifteen. To care for the greater teaching load, one assistant was provided from 1909 to 1914, three were required in 1914, seven in 1916, and fifteen in 1920, when the total enrollment in Spanish classes reached a maximum of 4,339 semester hours.

As it was neither expedient nor physically possible to offer all of the courses every year, a system of rotation was devised that would make the more fundamental courses available every two years, and the more specialized courses every three or four years. The study of Don Quixote, which started as an irregular, one-hour, one-semester course, developed first into a two-hour course, then, in 1907, into a sequence of two two-hour courses, and in 1910 into a year course of three hours each semester offered practically every year. Spanish-American literature has been taught every year since 1925.

Special courses for engineering students in the first two years of Spanish were conducted between 1901 and 1928. At first this work was in the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts and was under the direction of Colman Dudley Frank ('97, A.M. '02), Instructor in French and Spanish. When the Department of Modern Languages was formed within the Department of Engineering in 1904, James Pyper Bird ('93, Ph.D. '18) was put in charge of this work. In 1915 he was succeeded by Herbert Alden Kenyon (Brown '04, A.M. ibid. '05), who continued in that Page  723capacity until, in 1928, the department was reabsorbed into the corresponding departments of the Literary College. In the peak year 1921-22 nine sections of Spanish were provided in the College of Engineering and additional instructors were engaged.

In 1939-40 the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures gave twenty-six courses in Spanish, in some of which, especially the elementary courses, there were many sections. In all, seventy-nine separate sections or classes were conducted — forty-eight elementary, twenty-seven intermediate and advanced, and four exclusively graduate.

Today a student interested in Spanish may go from his first two years of elementary work into courses devoted to literature, conversation, or composition, where he will receive special training and preparation for more advanced work. For the graduate student and the prospective teacher, various basic courses are offered in Old Spanish language and literature, philology, phonetics, pedagogy, and grammar. Outside the classroom the interest of the faculty and students has found expression in Spanish plays, radio, and in the social activities of the Sociedad Hispanica.

Charles P. Wagner was coeditor, with Louis How, of The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes (1917), and in 1929 the first volume of his El Libro del Cauallero Zifar appeared.


In the autumn of 1848 the seniors in the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts were permitted to take a one-term course in Italian, taught by Louis Fasquelle, Professor of Modern Languages. It was recorded in the faculty minutes that sixteen seniors (exactly two-thirds of the senior class) were examined in Italian on December 20, 1848, and that all but one of them passed.

Italian was not offered again for nearly a score of years. In 1867-68 it was listed, along with Spanish, as a second-semester senior elective in five of the six programs in the Literary Department. For the next several years, although neither language was mentioned in the list of requirements and electives, a course in Italian extending through "a portion of the collegiate year" and a similar one in Spanish were announced in the brief general description of the work in modern languages. It was at least tentatively decided in 1870-71 that these two courses should be alternated, each of them to be given once in two years. In 1872 George S. Morris, then head of the Department of Modern Languages and Literature, reported that during the second semester, "with the permission of the faculty," he had taught a two-hour elective course in Italian for juniors and seniors. From the Calendar it appears likely that the plan of alternating Spanish and Italian was followed continuously, though with some irregularities, until June, 1887.

The Calendar of 1878-79 was the first in which the names of the teachers regularly appeared with the names of all courses, and also the first in which the content of the Italian course was definitely, though briefly, outlined. Cuore's Italian Grammar and Foresti's Italian Reader were the texts which Morris used. According to the definition of "full" (i.e., five-hour) courses, a fixed number of which were required for graduation under the regular "credit system" that went into effect the same year, the two-hour course in Italian was regarded as a "two-fifths course."

E. L. Walter took charge of the Department of Modern Languages in the winter of 1880. He taught Italian to thirty-eight students, who, he reported, completed about half the grammar and read about twenty-five pages in the Page  724reader. In his published report to the president he urged that greater facilities in Romance languages be offered, for "no earnest student of literature can afford to be ignorant of the languages of Dante and Cervantes."

Some progress toward this goal was made when, in 1883-84, a one-year course in Italian (two hours credit each semester) was offered. In the meantime, beginning in 1881-82, a prerequisite of a year of French, or its equivalent, had been established, and I Promessi sposi had been substituted for Foresti's Italian Reader. Even more significant, however, was the introduction of a two-hour semester course in Dante, first given by Professor Walter in 1888, only a year after he had been made head of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. In addition to the course devoted to the Divina Commedia, a one-hour course in the Vita Nuova was begun in 1892-93 by Raymond Leslie Weeks (Harvard '90, Ph.D. ibid. '97), Instructor in French. After Weeks left in 1893 Professor Walter took charge of the course and continued to give it and the regular Dante course until 1898, the year of his death.

From 1893 to 1923, the date of his retirement, Professor Moritz Levi, in addition to teaching French, offered courses in Italian. Others who at one time or another have been engaged in the teaching of Italian are: William A. McLaughlin, Herbert Douglas Austin (Princeton '00, Ph.D. Johns Hopkins '11), George Livingstone Hamilton (Harvard '95, Ph.D. Columbia '03), Stephen Scatori (Tulane '14, A.M. Michigan '18), Michele de Filippis (Brown '20, Ph.D. California '33), John Revell Reinhard (Harvard '15, Ph.D. ibid. '21), and Aubrey Tealdi (Lic., R. Ist. Tec. Livorno '00).

At one time or another between 1898 and 1930, Levi, McLaughlin, Hamilton, Austin, and Reinhard gave the Dante course, which had been expanded to include the Vita Nuova and a consideration of Dante's minor works, and which was extended over two semesters. In 1914-15 Austin introduced a graduate course of two semesters called the Origins of Italian Literature, and in 1925-26 Reinhard introduced as graduate courses the Renaissance, the Novellieri, and Petrarch.

In 1930 Camillo Pascal Merlino (Harvard '23, Ph.D. ibid. '28) was invited to take charge of all instruction in Italian. In addition to the courses available up to this time, the following new offerings, usually given in cycles, were admitted to the curriculum: Composition and Conversation; Italian Literature from 1870 to the Present Day; the Masterpieces of Italian Literature; and Introduction to Old Italian Language and Literature, including special treatment of Petrarch and Boccaccio. A Dante course in English was offered for the first time in the summer session of 1936. In 1937 Merlino accepted a position at Boston University.

The elementary Italian course, in addition to advanced work, is taught by Vincent Anthony Scanio (Buffalo '30, Ph.D. Michigan '37), who joined the department in 1931 as an instructor. There are at present three sections of this course, one of which is designed especially to meet the needs of the students of the School of Music.

There is now a complete curriculum in Italian with courses of a practical, literary, and historical nature, thus allowing for an undergraduate major as well as for a program of studies leading to the master's and doctor's degrees.

Library facilities. — In addition to a very adequate collection of Italian texts and scholarly publications on the language, literature, and history of Italy, the General Library now contains several special collections of much value. Professor Walter bequeathed to the University his own library of about 2,100 volumes, of which some 800, including Page  725nearly 500 Dante items, comprised the nucleus of the Italian collection.

The Pèrcopo collection of 1,500 volumes, the private library of the late Professor Erasmo Pèrcopo, of the University of Naples, was purchased in 1928. It includes, besides many single publications, 278 volumes containing more than four thousand research articles and monographs, many of which are very rare or otherwise inaccessible in this country. The collection is now fully catalogued.

In 1932, Mrs. LeRoy Crummer presented to the University thirty-nine rare editions of Castiglione's Il Cortegiano. These, added to the ten already in the library, make this without a doubt one of the finest collections of its kind in the world. Probably the largest and most valuable library of Italian dialect dictionaries outside Italy is the special collection of 124 purchased in 1933.


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