Members of the English department disagreed sharply last night in their reactions to recommendations, made at a meeting of the National Council of English Teachers, that British writers take a back seat to American authors and poets in the teaching of English.
The proposal was made by E. Scully Bradley, chairman of American Civilization at the University of Pennsylvania, who demanded more of Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, and Wait Whitman while asserting at the 36th annual meeting, held in Atlantic City, that three-quarters of the country's high school teachers of English were trained primarily in English literature.
Howard Mumford Jones, professor of English, told the CRIMSON, "I have held that view for a long time." He said that in general, as American and British cultures drift inevitably apart, there is no sense in trying to impose a foreign culture upon this country. He asked, "What does Wordsworth mean to a high school boy in South Dakota?"
Spencer Opposes Plan
Theodore Spencer, Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory, took opposite ground, declaring "such a move would be a great mistake, for it would tend to promote a nationalism in literature which is evil enough in politics." Admitting that the proposals were the logical swing of the pendulum and that American literature has unfortunately been too long neglected, he emphasized that any art which shows an understanding of humanity cuts completely across national boundaries.
Kenneth B. Murdock, Francis Lee Higginson Professor of English Literature, was conciliatory, expressing the hope that "at Harvard, American literature and culture will not be taught without reference to the British literature and culture to which it is so closely connected."