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American literature, as a nineteenth century product, has been justly relegated to the mediocrities. American poets sometimes reached the second rung of the ladder; several prose writers attained peerage with their English contemporaries. But on the whole, even where Americans mastered technique, it is generally conceded that their field of expression was always restricted and often provincial.

Yet to American students, the works of these authors have the intrinsic value of being indigenous. And this idigeneity is of two-fold advantage. In the first place, American works often offer American readers an easier comprehension of literary materials, those employed being more familiar than sources plumbed by English writers. But in view of the richness of English sources and the catholicity of literature generally, this advantage is slight. The second is rather more substantial. A sufficient knowledge of American literature is all but essential to a balanced estimate of American society. If untutored in American literature since grammar school days, the college student will return to vague memories of "Barbara Frietsche" and so, meditating, will omit literature from consideration.

The historical fact remains, however, that Americans have produced a literature, however poor. Not the quality of it, but its existence and possible progress are of account. The University encourages comprehension of American history. Yet the American literature available to the distributing student in the literature survey courses, is limited to a week's instruction, or little more.

If it be said that the defect of instruction, here called to attention, is trivial, be it admitted freely. But be it also said that the remedy is easy. It involves simply the revision of a reading list and of a lecture schedule in each of two English courses in order that a little more American literature may filter through the educational process.

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