Before 1948, a few courses in philology were offered in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. All of them were ancillary to literary studies, although some courses were required of students in the different languages. Their principal purpose was to provide students with a knowledge of the medieval languages — French, Italian, Provencal or Spanish — so that they could read the literatures of the early periods. In 1949, the Page 218Department of Romance Languages and Literatures instituted its first courses in the field of Romance Linguistics and established a graduate degree program separate from those in literature. In the period 1950-75, 58 master's degrees and 34 doctorates in Romance Linguistics were awarded.
The involvement of Romance Linguistics in elementary language instruction bore valuable fruit also. During World War II linguists had set up a language teaching program for the benefit of civilian administrators, Army and Navy personnel, and prospective members of the occupation forces. It was based on linguistic principles (what was later called Applied Linguistics) and aimed at a practical oral-aural mastery of the language apart from any literary or aesthetic purposes. Under the auspices of the department, a language laboratory was established, and elementary instruction began to show the influence of the postwar trends in language teaching. The existence of a program in Romance Linguistics led eventually to the establishment of an autonomous Romance Linguistics section within the department.