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Margaret Schlauch (1) (1898-1986)

By Fisiak, Jacek | Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview

Margaret Schlauch (1) (1898-1986)


Fisiak, Jacek, Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies


Margaret Schlauch was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 25th September 1898. She received her B.A. at Barnard College in 1918, her M.A. at Columbia in 1919 and her Ph.D. also at Columbia in 1927 (diss. Chaucer's Constance and Accused Queens). Before receiving her Ph.D. she spent a year at the University of Munich (1923-24). In 1924 she began teaching at the New York University, first as an instructor (until 1927) and later as an assistant professor of English (1927-31), associate professor (1931-40) and full professor (1940-51). In the summer of 1937 she was a visiting associate professor of German at the University of Chicago and in the summer of 1939 a visiting associate professor of English at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. The academic year 1929-30 Professor Schlauch spent at the University of Berlin studying Celtic languages under Professor J. Pokorny.

She was a victim of McCarthyism. Her sister married an eminent Polish physicist, a leftist, Prof. Leopold Infeld who was Einstein's colaborator and had close connections with the Los Alamos people. In 1951 he had to leave Canada on suspicions of espionage. M. Schlauch, an active member of the Communist Party of the United States also decided to leave her native country in order to avoid harrassment and possibly loss of her academic post. She decided to choose Poland for her second homeland where her sister had already arrived from Toronto. She served her new country with utmost devotion to the end of her days, leaving an indelible imprint on the development of English studies in postwar Poland.

In 1951 she was appointed professor of English at the University of Warsaw. In 1954 she became head of the department of English and functioned in this capacity until her retirement in 1965. From 1954 to 1956 Professor Schlauch was also head of the Department of General Linguistics.

She was a member of a number of professional organizations, including the Medieval Academy of America (member of the Council 1937-40), Modern Language Association of America (member of the Council 1938-42), Linguistic Society of America, Society of Advancement of Scandinavian Studies, American Association of University Women and Polish Linguistics Association. She was honorary member of English Literature Association, Hiroshima University.

In 1961 she was elected a corresponding member of the Polish Academy of Sciences. From 1954 to 1986 she was member of the Committee on Modern Languages and Literatures of the Academy.

Professor Schlauch was editor or member of the editorial board of Speculum (1933-36), Science and Society (1936), and Kwartalnik Neofilologiczny (1954-75).

She has left over 140 works. Some of the monographs and handbooks have been reprinted several times both in Poland and in other countries. Her research interests were broad and covered such areas as linguistic theory, history of English, history, Marxist philosophy, English and American literature (with particular emphasis on stylistics), Icelandic literature and comparative literature. From mid-thirties she consistently applied Marxist methodology both in her linguistic and literary studies.

In the area of linguistics Professor Schlauch concentrated on the critique of Bloomfield and his structuralism in "Early behaviorist psychology and contemporary linguistics" (1946) and "Mechanism and historical materialism in semantic studies" (1947). In 1936 she drew the attention of the American audience to the developments in Soviet linguistics. The same year she published a paper on the social basis of linguistics. In 1942 she published a popular introduction to language study (The gift of tongues) which had four editions (4th edition of The gift of languages appeared in 1955) and was favourably reviewed by a number of linguists, including M.

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