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


By 1940 the speech and theater program had been in existence at the University of Michigan for almost fifty years. Established in 1892 by Professor Thomas Trueblood, it was one of the first programs of its type in the country. In those beginning days the emphasis was on public speaking and oral reading, but as the years went by courses in other subjects were gradually added until in 1940 there were six well-defined areas of study in the department: rhetoric and public address, theater, oral interpretation, speech pathology, radio broadcasting, and speech pedagogy.

The department maintained its activities through the period of World War II although on a somewhat restricted basis. With the end of the war in 1945, a new period of Page  224growth began. Courses in television were added to the radio broadcasting curriculum and the establishment of the TV center made new facilities available for advanced laboratory work by students. As the 1960s began some instruction in film techniques was made a part of certain TV courses and in 1965 the first of several courses dealing exclusively with film was added to the curriculum. The master's program in radio-television-film offered professional training that qualified many students for positions in broadcasting and film organizations and the Ph.D. program prepared people for research and teaching in a field that was expanding rapidly in educational institutions throughout the country.

There were a number of significant developments in the theater field during this period. One was the expansion of faculty and courses in the area of technical theater, a trend that culminated in the early 1970s with the establishment of a Master of Fine Arts degree in theater design.

Another development was the expansion of opportunities for students, particularly those in the Graduate School, to direct and design theater productions. The number of one-act plays produced each year was increased and the Showcase series of four full-length plays a year, directed and designed by students, was added to the schedule. The introduction of the Summer Repertory program in 1969 also increased the opportunities for student directors and designers.

In 1961 theater at the University of Michigan received a significant boost when the Professional Theater Program was established. Though this program was primarily designed to bring outstanding professional theater to the Ann Arbor community, it was linked to the educational program in a number of ways. Its director became a member of the theater faculty; six fellowships were established for graduate students who were given experience in performing with professional companies; the theater artists who were visitors in Ann Arbor lectured to classes and met with students for informal conversations. In 1973, when the first PTP director retired, the professional and educational theater programs were organized under the same director to achieve better coordination. One result of this step was the establishment of the Guest Artist series which brought a professional actor, director, or designer to Ann Arbor to serve in his Page  225professional capacity in connection with the production of a play and to serve the department additionally as a teacher.

In the 1970s the building of the Power Center for the Performing Arts made another theater available for student productions. The production in 1974 of Shakespeare's Pericles made the theater area one of the few organizations in the country to have produced all of the thirty-seven plays included in the Shakespeare canon.

The speech sciences area of the department in 1940 included a strong speech pathology section which provided teaching and research in the field and a clinical service for University students and residents of the community. The clinic had operated since 1937 under the joint administration of the Speech Department and the Institute for Human Adjustment. In 1947 the audiology section of the program was strengthened through the addition of faculty members and courses and the provision of an audiology service at the Speech Clinic. The speech science area was also expanded with a faculty member in that field and new facilities, including an anechoic chamber. The speech science program separated from the department, however, in the early 1960s and eventually became part of the Department of Computer and Communication Science.

In 1949 the speech pathology and audiology area was expanded when the Kresge Foundation presented the University with the grounds, buildings, and facilities of a summer camp that had been operated on a private basis for a number of years to provide therapy for boys who were stutterers. Under the area's direction, the service was extended to girls and was expanded to include treatment of many other types of problems including hearing loss, aphasia, cerebral palsy, and cleft palate. About 100 boys and girls a year participate in this summer program and it provides resources for a number of research studies each summer. In the late 1950s a program for the treatment of adult aphasia was established. It brought victims of this disorder to the campus where they were residents during the treatment period.

In 1969 the area, then housed in the Victor Vaughn Building in the medical complex of the University, petitioned to become part of the Department of Physical Medicine and Page  226Rehabilitation in the Medical School. The request was granted as of the fall of 1969 and the area continued to offer its undergraduate and graduate programs through the Speech Department.

The area dealing with public address, group discussion, argumentation and related fields (which in the 1970s came to be known as the communications studies area) experienced a growing interest in the behavioral approach to the study of communication. One aspect of this development was that in such subjects as persuasion and group discussion, the emphasis on performance gave way to an emphasis on theory. New types of courses were introduced in the 1970s, among them courses in interpersonal, organizational, and intercultural communication.

In the middle 1960s a Ph.D. in the field of oral interpretation was added to those offered by the department. There was also an increased emphasis on the development of choral reading skills through the addition of courses in readers' and chamber theater.