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

DEPARTMENT OF ROMANCE LANGUAGES AND LITERATURES

Since 1940, the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures has continued to offer undergraduate and graduate instruction in the languages, literatures and civilizations of France, Spain, Latin America, Italy, and Portugal, with occasional courses in such fields as Rumanian, Catalan, Francophone areas outside of France, etc. The principal additions to the departmental offerings since 1940 have been the emergence of a section for Romance Linguistics and the building up of the programs in Portuguese and in Italian.

Since 1933, the department had been directed by a chairman, advised by an Executive Committee. When Hayward Keniston became chairman in 1940 a major change in the department administration was effected: an elected Executive Committee of four members was constituted. It had two members from the French-Italian side and two from Spanish-Portuguese. One member was elected each year for a four-year term. On Keniston's appointment to the deanship of the College in 1945, Irving A. Leonard assumed the chairmanship. During his term of office, the administrative duties of the department were formally shared with an Associate Chairman for French: Warner Patterson held this appointment from 1945 to his death in 1948; Paul Spurlin filled the post from 1949 to 1951. When Leonard was succeeded as chairman by Charles N. Staubach, it was decided to supplement the Executive Committee by creating a Senior Advisory Council consisting of all the full professors ex officio. This Council was to advise the chair on matters concerning the appointment, retention, promotion, and salary of all members of the regular faculty. These two committees, and the Graduate Committee, were the agencies which, with the Chairman, effectively ran the department. When James C. O'Neill assumed the direction of the department (as Acting Chairman 1959-60, Chairman 1960-73) he urged his colleagues to consider merging the Executive Committee and the Senior Advisory Council Page  213into one effective committee to advise the chair, but they preferred to retain the operating arrangement, and it was continued. When O'Neill resigned the chairmanship in 1973, Frank Casa was appointed chairman.

The department offers instruction at all levels in the French, Italian, Portuguese, Provencal, and Spanish languages and literatures, and in Romance Linguistics. This was already an extensive enterprise in 1940, and its dimensions have increased impressively since then. In 1940, the department had a regular staff of 33 faculty members who taught a total of 205 separate classes during the academic year (Summer Session programs are not included in statistics here or later). In 1975, there were again 33 full-time members in an instructional staff which was teaching 429 separate classes. These years — 1940-1975 — witnessed the invention and then the enormous expansion of a new teaching rank, the Teaching Fellow or part-time graduate assistant. In 1940, there were no classes taught by Teaching Fellows. In 1975, 266 classes were in their charge.

In 1940, the department was still quartered in the Romance Languages Building where it had been since 1928. The first language laboratory, however, was in the South Wing of University Hall. New quarters were allotted to the department in 1959 in the newly-acquired Frieze Building. A language laboratory founded by the department and made available to other language departments had been moved to Mason Hall. In 1971, the present Modern Languages Building was at last completed and the department moved to its present quarters on the fourth floor.

Undergraduate enrollments in the department are largely a function of the foreign-language requirement for various degrees in the College, and of the recommendations for language competence made by the several preprofessional programs. Since the College has maintained a basic requirement of fourth-semester foreign-language competence or the equivalent for the B.A. degree, a large commitment to elementary and secondary language instruction continues to be one of the major responsibilities of the department.

With the beginning of the war, special language training courses were designed in all sections of the department Page  214for students who were soon to enter military service. From 1941 to 1945 such courses were offered in the regular year in French, Spanish, and Italian. Faculty members also lectured on foreign civilizations and gave language training courses in military installations away from Ann Arbor. Then in the summer of 1942 the department furnished staff for both language and area studies in the Civil Affairs Specialist Training Program (CATP) and subsequently also for the Army Specialist Training Program (ASTP) in languages. After the end of hostilities, a special program was set up in the University for the training of field officers from the various military services for possible postwar assignments in Latin America. It had two parts, one an interdisciplinary course in the culture and society of Latin-America, the other an intensive language program in Portuguese and Spanish.

A project worthy of special mention is the department's part in the Foreign Language in the Elementary School program (FLES). When the national enthusiasm for FLES began to emerge, the department organized special FLES training programs in the summer sessions, in which teachers from elementary schools learned the techniques of teaching French or Spanish to students at that level. These programs began in the summer of 1956 and continued for many years with nationally recognized success. The department was also a major participant in one of the pioneer Institutes supported by the National Defense Education Act (NDEA). The Institute at Michigan in the summer of 1959 was one of four held in the nation, the forerunners of many NDEA language institutes to come in the years to follow. It offered special remedial training in French, Spanish, Russian and German to a group of 100 high school language teachers and superintendents chosen in a nation-wide selection.

The department has also been a major supporter of and contributor to several collegiate programs of note. It was represented on the college committee which first devised the Great Books courses for freshmen in 1945, and faculty members from Romance Languages have consistently figured among the teachers in these courses. The departmental faculty has also played an important role in the program in Comparative Literature, with staff members serving on the directing committee and faculty of the program, as well as filling the posts of Director or Associate Director at various Page  215times. When the Residential College was created in 1967, members of the department were instrumental in the early planning of the curriculum, particularly in connection with a novel scheme for integrating foreign language into the programs. The department has supplied the necessary junior teaching staff in French, Spanish, and Italian, and its professors frequently offer courses and seminars in the core curriculum.