Undergraduate Passes Examination
Dick Rosen got a C-plus in the hour examination given in Social Relations 114 on March 25.
Only there is no such person as Dick Rosen. The examination was taken by Edward Messner '49, a concentrator in Mathematics, who is not enrolled in Social Relations 114 and who had been to none of the lectures and done none of the reading for the course.
Messner was in Memorial Hall on the afternoon of March 25, waiting for a rehearsal of "Corialanus" to begin, when he noticed that an examination was being administered. He saw a friend, sat down next to him, and asked, "What's the name of this course?"
His friend told him that the course was Social Relations 114 (which is Professor Clyde K. M. Kluckhohn's "Anthropology and Modern Life"), and buttressed with this fact, Messner proceeded to write his C-plus paper.
On the first of the three questions he got nine out of a possible 20, a score that gave him some species of D according to the curve on which the examination was graded. On the third question, he got four out of 20, which won him no free games.
But on the second question, he got 18 out of 20. "To my mind," the grader commented, "excellent!! If you had just dealt with another point or two you would have hit the jackpot.
"Read Benedict, R. 'Anthropology and the Humanities' in the American Anthropologist, Vol. 50, No. 4, pp. 585-84, 1948, for a point of view similar to yours."
The question consisted of quotations from two book reviews, both dealing with Margaret Mead's "Keep Your Powder Dry" and Geoffrey Gorer's. "The American People." Messner chose to write about "The American People" because "its title gave me some clue to what the book is about."
He decided it would be good policy to agree with the reviewer that liked the book. But he did not forget to be balanced.
"Gorer's is not the greatest book I have read," the conclusion of his paper says, "but it has distinction. It is a man's honest questioning and searching into what makes America. Americans, and people.
"In a way, it is partly a study of the author as a person, too. What he wrote and how he wrote it are both of significance. This picture of modern America is seen through the ideas of a modern man. We can see both the pictures and their interactions. We are that much richer."
Messner, who has taken only one Social Relations course (Professor Pitirim A. Sorokin's "Contemporary Sociological Theory), said he wroth the examination "from the point of view of the Harvard man who doesn't stoop to mere detail."