The work of an informal committee long interested in establishing a chair in the University for modern Greek studies received a substantial boost this summer when Prof. C.A. Trypanis offered Comp Lit S-174, Modern Greek Literature.
A similar course has never been given at the University. No American university, in fact, has a chair of modern Greek studies, although just about every major European university has one.
Trypanis, Bywater and Southeby Professor of Byzantine and Modern Greek Language and Literature at Oxford, yesterday said there was "a very good response" to his course, and called the experiment a definite success. The enthusiastic reacton to Comp Lit S-174, Trypanis hopes, will stir further interest in seeking funds for a permament chair.
Prof. Cedric H. Whitman, chairman of the Classics Department, said that a small group of "teachers, librarians, outsiders and wives" have been "passionately interested" in founding a modern Greek studies chair for two years. Thus far the group has raised no money specifically for a chair. Whitman said, but it has collected some funds to buy modern Greek books for Widener Library.
Dean Franklin Ford said yesterday "there have always been people who thought modern Greek culture should be represented in the University." He said the reaction to Trypanis' course has been encouraging, and that as Dean he would like to see a chair established.
Ford said that instead of a specifically literary or historical chair, he would perfer a chair modelled along the lines of the C. Douglas Dillon Professorship of the Civilization of France, now held by Laurence Wylie. He said such a designation would allow more flexibility in courses offered in the field, and in the selection of a man to fill the chair.
Prof. Trypanis emphasized yesterday that America is the "only civilized country in the world without a chair in modern Greek studies." He said a student "cannot understand either the culture of the Balkans or the Near East" without understanding "the modern Greek element there." Trypanis apologized for being "materialistic," and added that with United States interests in those two areas growing continually, the establishment of a chair was increasingly important.
Harvard is the "ideal place" to found the first American chair, Trypanis said, because the University has both a good collection of modern Greek books, and programs to study areas near Greece.
One major problem in establishing a chair of this sort, Dean Ford said, was fitting it into the departmental structure. He noted that it did not really fit into the Classics Department, nor the Balkans or Near Eastern studies.
Ford added the University would like to find a man to teach both modern Greek and Koine, which is Hellenistic Greek. There are men in the Classics department who know Koine, but no courses are given in it, Prof. Whitman said.