From the Cradle ... the Rise of Romance Philology in American Academia (1900-1970)

By Trachsler, Richard | The Romanic Review, January-March 2010 | Go to article overview

From the Cradle ... the Rise of Romance Philology in American Academia (1900-1970)


Trachsler, Richard, The Romanic Review


Romance philology in American academia started out very much as the enterprise of a handful of individuals and a series of unconnected casual events: Lorenzo da Ponte, who was teaching Italian at Columbia as early as 1825, had failed as a merchant and grocer in Pennsylvania; (1) Aaron Marshall Elliott, before becoming the founder of the Department of Romance Philology at Johns Hopkins, had been a private teacher for eight years and was an autodidact who'd studied all sorts of languages all over Europe. He could have very well taught any kind of language when he was appointed associate professor for languages--and not Romance languages--to the newly founded University of Johns Hopkins in 1876. (2)

It took time for the discipline to emerge. Gradually, between 1875 and 1915, things got organized. (3) Departments of Romance philology were founded all over America, first on the East Coast, then, with the turn of the century, in the Midwest and at Berkeley. A new community of scholars separated from the original flock of classical philologists, first as modern philologists--dealing with English, German, Romance languages etc.--then as a tribe of their own, Romance philologists. Modern Language Notes, the first journal devoted to modern philology--as opposed to classical philology--was launched in 1884 in Baltimore, followed, one year later, by the Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, published by the newly founded association of the same name, and Chicago's Modern Philology in 1903. But by 1910, the Romanic Review, as the first journal entirely devoted to the study of Romance languages and literature, marked the advent of specialisation. (4)

By and large, this evolution is no different from what had happened in Europe a few decades earlier, where national philologies had emerged, subsequently leading to the creation of specific departments, university positions and journals for Romance philology. (5) Once the discipline was established in the United States, its evolution continued in a very similar manner on both sides of the Atlantic, and medieval studies, including French literature, on which we will be concentrating here, developed in a parallel way. (6)

A look at the number of doctoral dissertations in the field of medieval French and Occitan philology is very revealing: in the thirty years from 1880 to 1910, about forty dissertations were written in a few universities on the East Coast. (7) This considerable number is partly due to the fact that linguistics and philology were at that time not hermetically separated and thus many dissertations in historical linguistics were written and supervised by medievalists. Today, between 1995 to 2000, approximately sixty doctoral dissertations were published in the field in the USA and Canada, a number six or seven times higher per annum than one century ago. (8) This increasing output in the field of French literature of the Middle Ages is of course strictly arithmetical: it reflects the growing number of universities with French and Medieval departments, and, thus, the greater number of medievalists active in that area rather than a greater involvement in medieval studies than one hundred years ago. But the numerical increase is undeniable: when the International Arthurian Society and the Societe Rencesvals were established in the 1950s, the members from the USA and Canada could be counted on the fingers of two hands. (9) Today, there are hundreds of us.

These figures show the North American landscape being gradually covered by a constantly growing number of citadels of knowledge and teaching of Romance philology, not unlike the famous white cloak of Cistercian abbeys spreading over twelfth-century France. Of course, exactly the same expansion could be registered, simply a little earlier, all over Europe, and the whole phenomenon could thus be dismissed as part of the progression regarding higher education in the western world over the last century. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

From the Cradle ... the Rise of Romance Philology in American Academia (1900-1970)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.