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Articles on Fields of Concentration


These articles on the various Fields of Concentration will appear in the "Confidential Guide" next September. Therefore the current year is referred to as "last year," etc. Criticisms will be welcome if mailed immediately to the CRIMSON, 14 Plympton Street.


Economics is the center around which our present civilization revolves; some even claim that all human history has been determined fundamentally by economic forces. Almost every occupation fits into the economic structure, and for certain ones like government and business, a knowledge of the economic structure is essential. The field of Economics increased 20 per cent from 1935-36 to 1937-38 and is now the largest in College with 477 concentrators.

From the nature and aims of the field it is obvious that it might better be entitled Political Economy, for every course tends to emphasize the fact that economics cannot be separated from politics. Through full courses on various special subjects like Public Finance and Utilities a broad survey of the subject is attempted, and although each course is designed to include the major problems existent today, it is of course impossible for them to provide the answers. Thus, the field does not intend to offer practical value--in the narrow vocational sense, since it feels that practical training should be obtained after College in places like the Business School. Instead, it offers a thorough theoretical background of economics useful in any business career.

A student who does not want to concentrate in Economics but desires an auxiliary foothold in the subject would do best to combine the theory of Economics A with the more specific material in Economics 41, on Money and Banking.

Concentrators n Economics will have to pass in the spring their Junior year a general examination on the department of Economics, and in the spring of their Senior year an examination correlating Economics with either History or Government (this correlating exam may be abolished by 1942), and a third one on the student's special field, which is chosen from a list of eleven, including economic theory, economic history, money and banking, industry, public utilities, public finance, labor problems, international economics, policies and agriculture.

Courses in allied fields, including Philosophy, Mathematics, History, Government, and Sociology, are suggested by the department for each of the special fields. In addition, Geography 1 is recommended in connection with international policies or agriculture.

According to members, there has not been enough organization of tutorial work. In preparing men for their Junior divisionals the tutors have each gone off on independent tacks, often haphazardly. A list of books drawn up by the Board of Tutors for each special field, large enough to allow the student a reasonable amount of choice and yet limited enough to assure both student and tutor that he is working in some prescribed direction, would remedy this situation. The tutors themselves are good, on the whole, and willing to give time to those students whose interest and ability warrant it.

Economics A is required for admittance into every advanced course, although there are a few which allow it to be taken at the same time. It is by no means too difficult for Freshmen, may be taken by them with the consent of the instructor, and concentrators urge all Freshmen who think they may go into the field to take this course during their first year. This will enable them to begin taking advanced courses their Sophomore year, as History and Government concentrators do, and thereby allow a much wider range of study during their last two years, both in courses and in tutorial. History 1 and Government 1 are both required for concentration in Economics. The former should be taken Freshman year.

Of the two basic courses in theory Economics 1 is much better than the half year course 2a, but it is open only to honors candidates. Professor Chamberlin lectures excellently in course 1, but there is still need for a half course such as 2a. Nearly all the advanced courses will be found worth while, but they cannot all be taken and must be chosen with the interests and the special field of the concentrator in mind. Course 21a was blamed for wasting the effort of Professor Frickey, for students claimed the material could be covered in less than a mouth. It is necessary for graduate work, and cannot be expected to be very interesting. Mason's Economics 11a and b, on the history and economics of Socialism, while they are not well organized, represent--especially the history--a field which has been practically ignored in the social sciences, although it is listed as a special topic for the correlation exam--the History of Political and Economic Thought. A course on the History of Economic Theory is notably lacking, and the History of Socialism could well be matched with a History of Capitalism, Sociology 3 comes nearest to filling this gap now, but it loans loss towards economics than towards social progress. Economics 36, on Economic History, is concerned with the material development of industry, railroads, etc. Hansen was liked in course 45a on Business Cycles, and the material covered in 43a and b is valuable.

Expanding its labor instruction, the department will make Economics 81, on Labor Problems, a full course, to be given by Professor Slichter, Dr. Reynolds, and Mr. Pollard. Social security, as well as the economics of labor, will be taught.


Three factors make the English Department an enigma for this year. First, the loss of Professor Greenough and of Professor Lake cannot help but be felt. Only Professor Lowes now remains of Harvard's legendary English teachers. Second, the basic changes in the tutorial staff means that a large number of students in the field will have to find new tutors, and the Sophomores will, in general, get newly appointed tutors who have yet to learn the ropes. Finally, the omitting of such a basic course in the field as 52, Victorian Literature, is difficult to condone, especially since criticism has always been levelled at the department for its disregard of preparing men for Divisional exams.

In the fall of Junior year a concentrator must take a written examination on the Bible, Shakspeare, and two of the following ancient authors: Homer, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Horace, and Virgil, and near the end of his Senior year one on English literature.

Browsing at high pressure continues as the typification of the field. The Divisionals are deemed exceptionally severe, with courses 10, 21, 30, 40, 50 and 52 considered as key. The broad scope of the field made many of the concentrators agree that the most pleasant way to cover the field was through tutorial guidance, but such men declared that a coordination tutor, not a laissez-faire man, was essential for this mode of study. Of these tutors Munn was recommended as a great individual teacher, and Steel was declared one of the best tutors in the field. Chandled and Sedgwick are good, but they have to be drawn out; Worcester is also good, but perhaps too bright. Morison and Rackcliffe were well recommended.

Technical, historical, and general reading are all mixed together in this field. Generally speaking, reading lists are made out from the point of view of the group I, or perhaps an exceptionally bright group II, man and hence play into the hands of the tutoring schools. English 30 and 40 are fine examples of this. Everywhere one turns in English, one runs into an hour exam, usually a factual one. Midyears and finals are more general exams, but are invariably too long and too pedantic. Professor Jones' exams were more highly held than others, however. Another fault of English exams is that few section men mark with the same viewpoint.

Perhaps the most important forward step that the department has taken this year is the increase of emphasis on the cultural background of English literature rather than the scholarly side. Professor Munn and Professor Jones won praise for this, while certain lectures of Professor Lowes and Professor Magoun were criticized as appealing only to the pedantic sort of future Ph.D. men.

The composition courses in the field are fairly highly recommended, A-2 most highly, but the marks in them are on an unfairly high level when compared with other courses in the same field. A "B" necessitates only a little occasional effort. As for the public speaking courses there is more censure than praise, although the energy of Professor Packard was lauded in getting this part of the field in running order.

There being no special fields in English, the most important courses will be taken up in the following list:

English A-1--Good composition course for Freshmen to start on. Gordon and Bailey recommended highly.

English A-2--Best composition course, Kempton excellent.

English 1--Will be under Jones, inspiring and amusing lecturer but addicted to formulas and fond of debunking. Not recommended to Freshmen who have had a prep school survey course.

English 5--On the Novel. Well recommended, good preparation for Divisionals.

English 7--On the whole an excellent survey of American literature.

English 10--Whiting better than Magoun. A key course for Divisionals and lets people who dislike Chaucer avoid Chaucer.

English 21--Course material interesting, Lowes an authority, exams very hard.

English 23--On Shakspere, Murray's lectures are good but tend to overemphasize mechanics.

English 30--Seventeenth Century. Murdock tends to be dull but coordinates the massive reading well. Second half more tedious than first half.

English 31--On Milton by Bush. Not an essential course, but good reading list.

English 35--(Formerly Comp. Lit. 35) Munn taking it over, should be good. On the Bible.

English 40--English literature from 1700 to 1798. A key course and lots of reading, but Chandler coordinates well.

English 51--Nineteenth Century Prose--much neglected period for this year at least. Rollins not inspiring.

English 80--Very technical on poetic criticism, Houghton good.

English 85--Chandler good on prose style, Hillyer wobbly on verse.

English 115--(formerly 15) Chaucer, a line-by-line course.

History and Literature

Combining two different subjects into one field can easily produce an inchoate mixture of material, but this department, guided by an interest in various approaches--social, intellectual, constitutional, etc., has made of them a study of civilization. Admission into the field is selective and restricted to fifty from each class. The special fields are Greece, Rome, Germany, France, England, America, Middle Ages, Renaissance, 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century. Divisional exams strike almost at once; thus, in the spring of his Sophomore year, a concentrator takes a three-hour Bible and Shakspere; in the fall as a Junior he takes two thirty-minute orals on either Ancient or Modern Authors and Historians, depending upon his special field. In May of his third year he must take, if he expects to be an honors candidate, the qualifying four-hour exam.

Preparation for this last milestone depends as much on the individual as on the tutor; it is a general exam covering the entire special field. Failure means that another and different exam must be taken as a Senior; success means that the concentrator will write a thesis and undergo an oral the next year on the century in which his thesis falls. Some members expressed the desire of seeing questions in the Junior divisional based more on a synthesis of history and literatures, with the marking adjusted to this basis.

Ever since its inception a "halo" has hug about the head of the department, glorifying its high aims and standards. Although it is no mistake to say that the field is one of the best, it is wrong to claim that it affords the broadest education and is thus the hardest. History alone or English alone can in some cases offer just as much. What a student gains is in the end up to himself and his tutor. Undoubtedly more time is spent with one's tutor, both as Sophomore and Junior, than in any other non-scientific field. The concentrator should be prepared to read much and read it thoroughly, as well as to study ideas in addition to facts. Survey courses like History 1, English 1, and French 6 (for the French field), are recommended for prospective concentrators to take as Freshmen.

Because of the comparative freedom of range within the field, each man seemed excited about his work, and with the help of the tutor this enthusiasm can be well developed and directed. The tutors in general are highly praised. In the English field Perkins is fine for the 18th century; Potter excellent in England, France, and Germany; Houghton good on poetry and the 17th century; Miller in America; Finley and Dow in the Classics. Durand knows his Aquinas and Bacon, but perhaps because he is over-worked, he seems indifferent to tutees. New tutors in the department will be D. J. Boorstin, England and America, whose special subject is the history of law; P. Dur., France; and H. Rice, French literature.

Opinions about the courses in the History and English departments are founded predominantly on the approach. If English 21 is unsatisfactory, as it seems to be, it is because the History and Literature man feels the weakness of too narrow and outmoded an interpretation and the absence of a social point of view. All courses which attempt to relate history and literature to the cultural and economic background of the time concerned are applauded. For this reason less philology and more sociology are demanded. See the History and English articles for courses not mentioned.

In the American field History 5 is ordinarily required for admittance into advanced American history courses. Unless a thorough course has been taken in school, it is necessary for those intending to enter the American field. The numerous hour exams make it elementary, but the reading is comprehensive and Buck's lectures good. With Professor Morison's personality History 60 is a delight for the American specialist; last year Nettels was very good. History 62a gives an economic approach to America. The most important course to the American concentrator is 63; although his humor is pleasant. Professor Schlesinger's lectures are on the whole dull. Most of the reading, especially the literary aspect, is antiquated and superficial; the marking of hour exams is felt to be unfair because too much material is wanted in a small amount of time. Complete reorganization, perhaps on a topical rather than chronological basis, seems urgent. In 65b Buck provides a thorough political background of the South.

English 7 is an excellent survey course for the specialist and for all those interested in American literature. Professor Jones will give a course on 20th century American Literature the second-half year, instead of one on American literature since 1870. Of the four conference group courses numbered 170, 170a is most recommended; although somewhat elementary, Murdock is good on the American novel to 1900. Miller on the American Drama in "d" should be excellent. Those in the field think a conference group on Southern literature is needed.

History 21b is a fine historical course for Europe, but not philosophical. In the field of English History and Literature, the History courses 19, 40, and 42 are all called essential, and are good courses. English 21 is also essential, but, as mentioned, the approach was criticized as being out of date. In English 30 the intellectual background is neatly summarized and the reading well selected. The first half year is on English literature from 1603 to the Restoration, the second half on the subsequent period to 1700. English 80, a criticism of poetry, relates to the intellectual background; Houghton is fine. Any of Spencer's courses are endorsed by concentrators.

History 50 is necessary for the German field, being its history in modern times. Members of this special field regret that four distinguished men have left the department in the last four years. Vietor is especially praised in the field, although his German is swift for one not proficient in the tongue. His course 15 on Goethe is one of the best. German 12 is a pure history and literature course, given in English on the Social Background of German Culture.

The Romance Languages fields are unsatisfactory on the whole. While the history courses are good, the literature in French and Italian courses is poorly taught. The French field needs a general background course like German 12. Mercier's course, 10, has the equivalent title, but is not enough. Course F is entirely too superficial for this. In Italian, Weston gives all the literature courses, sacrificing literary and cultural aspects to literal translation. A new man is needed.

Concentrators are edvised to branch out and take such courses as Philosophy 15 and Fine Arts 1d. An elementary course in Philosophy is useful no matter what the field.

Fine Arts

For organization and eminence of the Faculty, the field of Fine Arts is excellent. The number of concentrators is not awkwardly large and has remained fairly steady in the 60's during the last three years, which factors have allowed the organization to settle down.

Not only is the Faculty among the finest in the country, but the opportunities for first hand study in the Fogg Museum, which houses a complete library including 133,000 photographs and 41,000 slides, the Boston Museum of Art, and Fenway Court, are as good as any.

Due to the broad cultural background provided by the field, it is recommended not only to those primarily interested in art, but also to those who have not definitely decided where they are to slight, for it is closely related to languages, English, history and music. The thought of the great ages of culture is embodied in visual terms as well as in the terms of music or literature. At the same time men who are interested in architecture are urged to select this field in preparation for the School of Design. The graduate courses within the division, which may be taken with permission, are planned successfully for writing, museum work, and teaching.

Two years ago the field was divided into three subdivisions for special emphasis: the History of Art, the Theory of the Visual Arts, and Design in Preparation for Work in the Graduate School of Design. In May of his Junior year each concentrator in Plan A (Senior year under Plan B) must pass a general written examination based on slides, and in Senior year one on his special field. Preparation for these exams is covered well in the courses, and the amount done for tutorial varies with the interest of the studies.

The two elementary courses to be given in 1938-39 are Fine Arts 1a and 1d. 1a, on the Principles of Drawing and Painting, is ordinarily required for admission to more advanced courses in those subjects. The drawing consists mainly in copying the material discussed in the lectures, and was felt to be largely over-emphasized. The course cultivates an appreciation of art, not individual ability, which can be sought in 2a. On the whole the course does not require much original work.

Fine Arts 1d is an introductory survey course in the History of Art and will be increased to a full course this year. Concentrators hoped that this would bring a proportionate increase in the amount of time devoted to contemporary work. The course builds up a chronological list of superficial facts, requires little intelligence or thought, but is worth while both as an introduction to advanced courses in the history of Art, and as correlation for History 1, which Freshmen should take with Fine Arts 1d if they are thinking of concentrating in Fine Arts.

Non-concentrators who want a year of art should wait for course 1e, which is omitted this year, but will be given again next year. It is limited to select works of art and therefore is able to combine history with appreciation and theory.

Of the advanced courses in the history of Art, the best seems to be C, D, and G. Neither C nor D, on the Renaissance in Italy and in northern Europe, will be given this year. G, a first half year course on Oriental Art, is very interesting. Mr. Sickman, a new man, will replace Mr. Warner in this course. Fine Arts A and B are on Ancient and Medieval Art respectively. A whole year is too much to spend on either of these subjects, and results in over-emphasis on Greek vases in the former and on manuscripts in the latter. The lecturers in these two courses, Chase, Koehler, Deknatel, and Grace, are all authorities in these fields. Those who choose the special subdivision of History of Art will not have to cover Design in their general examination.

Advanced courses in Design and in Theory are all recommended, depending of course on the special field and the interests of the student. Course 2a, as mentioned above, gives individual practice in drawing, and from that point of view is suggested for those not concentrating in the field, but 1a is required for admittance to it. Fine Arts 2b, on descriptive geometry, is required and valuable for students of Architecture, and 2d on the theory of Design, involving individual practice, is also suggested. Course 10, an introduction to Architectural Design, is closely connected to the School of Design and is not recommended to Undergraduates unless really interested. A recurrent criticism in these courses is that the lectures too often duplicate the reading.

Romance Languages

Concentrators in Romance Languages and Literatures choose that field either to learn the grammar and writing of French, Spanish or Italian; to learn to speak one of the three; or to learn the literary background of one of the countries. In general only the grammar and French Literature students are satisfield. But a general statement should not be counted too heavily, since the three divisions within this field, namely French, Spanish, and Italian, vary considerably in the degree to which they fulfil these needs.

Freshmen who have learned to speak one of these languages abroad, and who think that they will have an easy time in the field because of this, are mistaken. While there are other students who slave away trying to learn to speak a language, yet the mere ability to speak it is of little value in satisfying the grammatical and literary requirements of the field. In fact several advanced courses are given in English. But the student who is reasonably conscientious about his work will find the department easier than most.

The procedure in obtaining degrees and in going out for honors is the same in all three languages. In the fall of Junior year every concentrator must take an examination on the Bible and Shakespere and two ancient authors, the same examination taken by History and Literature concentrators. A student who fails in his Junior year will be allowed to take the corresponding examination in the fall of his Senior year. Near the end of his Senior year he must take a written examination on the literature in which he has concentrated.


The elementary courses in French were reorganized in 1936, and are smoothly running, thorough courses, but, as far as A, B, and C are concerned, no more stimulating than any elementary grammar courses, especially when being taught to mature college students. French A and B are beginners' courses, the latter a high powered course meeting five times & week and combining A with the second year course C. Both were easier than expected. Course C is intended for those who want to pursue study in grammar and composition. It is not so easy and to those not interested in grammar is dull. French E is the course for those who pass the cp8 entrance examination, is the largest French course, and is divided into sectiontions on Drama, Science, History, and Literature. It is well liked, not too hard.

The courses for speaking are D, 4, and 5, D is on oral self-expression and practice. Last year it was easy, there was not enough discipline in the sections nor any satisfactory way of stimulating conversation from all members fairly, such as there is in Spanish 8. But with perseverance a student will learn to talk. Courses 4 and 5, two connecting half-courses, were criticized because the sections are too big, some men never get any practice, and the poor student stays poor, Moreover Mercier is too lax in correcting pronunciation.

French F is unique in subject, being an "Introduction to France," and covering the cultural background of France, the economic and geographic structure, the government, and French social and community life. Professor Morize has taken great pains in preparing this course, in conection with which there is a small library in the Union. To anyone who knows anything about France, however, it is likely to seem superficial and without purpose.

French 6 is the survey literature course, and is the best course for men outside the field providing they have had enough French. Concentrators should take E Freshman year (if they can) and 6 the following year. The further literature courses are open to men who have passed in 6. Courses 7 and 8, on the literature of the nineteenth and eighteenth centuries respectively, are given in French, contain good material, and are well presented. Concentrators wished Professor Allard would talk a little louder, however.

There is very little definite work in course 9 on the seventeenth century, which is a limited enough sphere so that it is possible to give play to the individual approach of the student, which is encouraged by Cons. French 10 is on the social background of French literature, unduly emphasizing the middle ages and neglecting the period since the sixteenth century. The material is not important for Divisionals, though interestingly presented by Mercier. Course 11 is probably the best of the advanced courses in literature. It is given in English, although French 6 is required. Hawkins has organized the course well, he gives an excellent survey of the novel, and the material is valuable for the Divisionals. French 30, a good course on modern French Literature conducted well by Professor Morize, will be omitted next year.

In general the French Literature courses contain good material but present it poorly, sometimes putting emphasis on the wrong points, often vague. But with a little concentration on the student's part he will get a good deal out of them.


Spanish 1, the elementary course, is well run, easy if one has had French, and adequate. Spanish 7 is the continuing composition course, lasts a half year. It is monotonous and now and then repents course 1, but is valuable for further Spanish courses. In Spanish 8, a second half year course, Professor Rivera has produced a course in which each student is forced to learn to talk, and which is at the same time interesting. Students subscribe to La Prensa, a New York Spanish newspaper, and discuss articles of current interest in it.

Spanish 4 and 2 are the only courses which can qualify as Spanish literature courses. The former is a general view, corresponding to French 6, and could almost stand being a full course. Professor Ford gives both this and number 2 on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and Cervantes. The defect of the other Spanish literature courses is that there is too much emphasis on the mechanics of translation. Whittem, and to a lesser degree Rivera, are both at their best on composition and tend to neglect the literary aspect of their material.


Italian shares the problems of Spanish as far as the courses are concerned. Italian 1 is an adequate course, more difficult than Spanish 1, however, and few Freshmen took it last year. Concentrators in Italian literature can cover the field satisfactorily in three years. Italian 7 is the only advanced composition course, and is given in alternate years. Dr. Solano does a good job in both 1 and 7, and the latter is good for speaking.

Professor Weston heads all four courses in literature, but they are never all given together. His failing is the same as that noted in Spanish--his literature courses, except perhaps Italian 10 on Dante, consist of literal translations with little or no appreciation or background, and are therefore dull for the advanced student. 4 is his half course on literature in general; in course 5, on modern literature, he devotes three fourths of the time to poetry, and the class consists mainly of translation.

The suggestion was made in reference to these Italian literature courses, but holds for Spanish as well, that the instructor should give at least one carefully prepared lecture a week, which should deal woth the literary and cultural sides of the works studied.

Because of the limited and inadequate nature of the literature courses in Spanish and Italian, and because literature is the most important part of preparation for the Divisionals, a great deal of tutorial must be done in these fields. All the instructors in these two languages serve as tutors and are competent in that capacity

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