1st Edition

The Origins of Literary Studies in America A Documentary Anthology

Edited By Gerald Graff, Michael Warner Copyright 1989
    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    Originally published in 1989, The Origins of Literary Studies in America brings together for the first time hard-to-find speeches, reports, and other writings by the founders of literary studies in the United States: Bliss Perry, Woodrow Wilson, Irving Babbitt, M. Carey Thomas, and many other scholars between 1874 and 1937.

    The selections—on teaching, the MLA, and the goals of the discipline—are readable, accessible, often charming and amusing; what is most striking about them, however, is their resemblance to the debates over the crisis of American higher education. Gerald Graff and Michael Warner argue against the “myth of consensus”—a naive belief that the academic humanities until quite recently enjoyed a coherent agreement on their goals—popularized by such critical voices as Secretary of Education William Bennett, E.D. Hirsch, and Allan Bloom.

    This remarkable anthology is a valuable corrective to twentieth century popular views of educational history and a work that broadens our understanding of professionalism within the academy.


    Part 1: Professionalization

    1. James Morgan Hart, from German Universities: A Narrative of Personal Experience (1874)

    2. Francis A. March, “Recollections of Language Teaching,” PMLA (1893)

    3. H. C. G. Brandt, “How Far Should Our Teaching and Text-books Have a Scientific Basis?” PMLA (1884–85)

    4. James Morgan Hart, “The College Course in English Literature, How it May be Improved,” PMLA (1884–85)

    5. Theodore W. Hunt, “The Place of English in the College Curriculum,” PMLA (1884–85)

    6. Martin Wright Sampson and Charles Mills Gayley, Two English Programs in the 1890s, from English in American Universities (1895), edited by William Morton Payne

    7. Richard G. Moulton, from Shakespeare as a Dramatic Artist: A Study of Inductive Literary Criticism (1888)

    Part 2: Counter-Statements and Reassessments

    8. John Churton Collins, from The Study of English Literature (1891)

    9. Woodrow Wilson, “Mere Literature,” the Atlantic Monthly (1893)

    10. Hiram Corson, from The Aims of Literary Study (1895)

    11. Albert S. Cook, “The Province of English Philology,” PMLA (1898)

    12. Bliss Perry, from The Amateur Spirit (1904)

    13. Irving Babbitt, from Literature and the American College: Essays in Defense of the Humanities (1908)

    14. Charles Hall Grandgent, “The Dark Ages,” PMLA (1913)

    Part 3: Memoirs and Personal Accounts

    15. Frank Norris, “The ‘English’ Classes of the University of California,” The Wave (1896)

    16. Bliss Perry, from And Gladly Teach (1935)

    17. Stuart P. Sherman, “Professor Kittregde and the Teaching of English,” The Nation (1913)

    18. William Lyon Phelps, from Autobiography with Letters (1939)

    19. Edwin Emery Slosson, from Great American Universities (1910)

    20. Vida Dutton Scudder, from On Journey (1937)

    21. M. Carey Thomas, from The Making of a Feminist: Early Journals and Letters of M. Carey Thomas (1871–83)

    22. Ludwig Lewisohn, from Up Stream: An American Chronicle, (1922)


    Gerald Graff is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Illinois Chicago, USA. He is one of his generation's most influential commentators on education, not only as a historian and theorist, but also through his impact on the classroom practice of teachers.

    Michael Warner is Seymour H. Knox Professor of English and Professor of American Studies at Yale University, USA. His work ranges across several topics and styles, from scholarship in early American literature and print culture, to more theoretical writing about publics and social movements, to introductory editions and anthologies, to journalism and non-academic political writing.

    Review of the first publication:

    “This will be immediately a touchstone anthology and will be essential reading for those concerned with American studies, questions of professionalism, institutions, the formation of values through education, etc., in short, everybody.”

    Stanley Fish, Duke University