The history of the German Department which is told on the following pages needs no introduction, but a few initial words of appreciation are in order. Our thanks for putting the history together go to two people. First to Mr. Robert Popham, one of our undergraduate majors, who gathered much of the historical material and who did so with skill and understanding. And second to the history's author, Oskar Seidlin. I suppose it must be difficult for anyone to write the story of a department in whose squabbles and successes and fortunes he has been intimately involved for many, many years. For Oskar Seidlin, however, the task was doubly difficult. The history of the department's rise to excellence over the last three decades is in fairly large measure the same history as that of Seidlin's own career. As one of the most distinguished scholars at this or any other university, he had the well-nigh impossible task of telling the story objectively without at the same time sounding shamelessly vain. To avoid the latter danger he presents a less objective chronicle than another writer would have done. For while one certainly gets an impression of his stature as scholar and teacher from the narrative, his fear of appearing immodest has led him to give his own accomplishments and the many honors he has brought to Ohio State considerably less than their proper due.
Charles W. Hoffmann
(Acting Chair SU 1987)
When in the fall of 1873, after three years of planning and preparation, the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, from which was to emerge the Ohio State University in 1878, opened its gates to the first freshman class of 25 students, the academic offerings of the new institution were grouped into ten departments. The ninth of these was the Department of Modern and Ancient Languages. Its establishment had not been quite effortless and smooth. The more professionally oriented men among the founding fathers had objected to the decision of the Board of Trustees (January 6, 1871) to provide for two chairs in languages and literatures, one in English and modern languages and literatures and a second in ancient languages and literatures. The main spokesman among the critics, Norton S. Townsend, later professor of Agriculture, had objected to two professorships in languages and literatures as "unneeded in technical education." His motion lost, though by the slimmest of margins (8 to 7).
It was not exactly the principle of a liberal and humanistic education which had prevailed in this vote, but rather a practical consideration, which the secretary of the trustees had expressed in these words:
It may be asserted with perfect truth that he who wishes to keep thoroughly posted in agriculture as a science or with the constant progress in the mechanical arts, chemistry and other sciences will need to read as many books and memoirs in French and German as he will in English.
The man who was to teach the first freshman class to read these books and memoirs was Joseph Millikin, M.A., who was named professor of English and Modern Languages and Literatures on September 20, 1873. Since in the first term of the university's operation French was not yet offered in the College program, German was actually the first modern foreign language taught at the new institution.
Joseph Millikin was born in 1840 near Hamilton, Ohio the son of a retired lawyer who was twice elected treasurer of the State of Ohio. He received a classical education at Hanover College, Indiana, after transferring from Miami University of Ohio, which thanks to his precocity he had entered at the age of fourteen. His original professional goal was the ministry, and in 1862 he was ordained as a minister of the Presbyterian Church. Yet frail health, which had plagued him since his student days, seemed to make an academic career more advisable, and in 1870 he accepted an invitation as professor of Greek language and literature at his old Alma Mater, Miami University. Three years later he moved from Miami to the new Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College as a professor of English and Modern Languages and Literatures. His tenure at the Ohio State University was relatively short. In 1881 ill health forced him to resign his position; and after a vain attempt to regain his strength in Florida, he died in Hamilton, Ohio, in 1882.
Professor Millikin's teaching burden would have been backbreaking even for a much more robust man. After French had been added to the academic program, Millikin taught one class in English, one in French and two in German. This made him responsible "for seven daily recitations of one hour each." At this time (1875) his yearly salary was $2,250, and although he confessed in the annual departmental report that "my classes and myself are cheerfully doing our best," he complained that the professional demands were "more than I can do with the perfect justice to myself or the branches I teach." Even President Orton had to concur, admitting that such work "is clearly beyond the power of one person to perform." It was therefore decided that Professor Millikin needed an assistant, especially for the teaching of French.
So in 1875 the Board appointed Ms. Alice K. Williams, a native of Bowling Green Ohio. After preparing in her hometown school and at the New Church Academy in Waltham, Massachusetts, she had been among the first of 25 students to enroll at the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1873; and she now became the first woman teacher at the new institution with the official title "Tutor in the Department of English and Modern and Ancient Languages." Her position carried a yearly remuneration of $450 to be paid in 10 monthly installments. Miss Williams taught one required course in English, one in German and one two in French. She remained with the department for 14 years, after 1887 as an Assistant Professor and eventually as an Associate Professor, which latter rank had been declared proper by the Board of Trustees for a departmental chairman. This Miss Williams had become after Millikin's resignation and demise. Shortly thereafter Miss Williams' name disappeared from the roster of the teaching staff of the Ohio State University. She received an unpaid year's leave for studies in Europe in 1889/90, and there is no record that she returned to the department after this leave of absence.
The method employed by the first foreign language teachers at the Ohio State University was based primarily on grammatical drill and translation practice. To justify this procedure Millikin proffered a whole series of arguments. He stated that in principle this method was in accord with "the best college usage and authority" and particularly applicable at an agricultural and mechanical school with large enrollments in language classes where the proficiency in speaking a foreign language was considered "an incident rather than an aim of the course." Already at the end of the first year of college's operation (Summer 1874) the Circular and Catalogue had laid down the ground rule:
The French and German languages, with which everyone who expects to attain a good degree of proficiency in the natural sciences must acquaint himself, and which are in themselves desirable studies, can be pursued here in courses as extensive as the needs of the students may demand.
With all the emphasis on the practical use of modern languages and natural sciences, Millikin was aware of their desirability in themselves; and the curriculum which he had designed offers proof of this awareness. The first term of the first year was devoted to the study of grammar, using Whitney's Grammar and Reader. In the second term a selection of German poetry was added, which offered further opportunities for grammatical drill, while in the third term the reading of a prose text (Andersen's Eisjungfrau) formed the basis for composition and conversation. This shift in emphasis was due mainly to Miss Williams' efforts, but Millikin had gladly accepted it, pointing out that "from writing to speaking the way is easy."
In the second year the student was ready to read and discuss representative samples of German Classical literature, among them Goethe's Egmont, Schiller's Don Carlos and Braut von Messina and Lessing's Emilia Galotti. Lectures and reading materials on the history of German literature and language offered a survey which placed the individual texts in their proper context. In 1878, five years after the opening of the Ohio State University, this program was firmly established and 32 students were enrolled in the first two years if the study of German.
Yet with the establishment of a regular curriculum Professor Millikin's problems were by no means all solved. In the first years the building up of a suitable library was a permanent worry, all the more so since, in addition to his teaching obligations, Millikin had assumed the position of librarian in 1874. In the following years his complaints about the lack of badly needed texts became routine. Thus in 1876..."it is of the utmost importance that the ability to use foreign textbooks and works of reference be acquired as soon as possible;" and shortly thereafter: "To teach English, French and German philology with not a text of earlier period (save the one read in the classroom) accessible to the student is like teaching geology without a fossil, or surveying without a compass."
His constant proddings did in fact achieve modest results. In 1877 Millikin gratefully acknowledged the receipt of $100 for book purchases: in the following year the amount even rose to $200. By that time some of the most vital texts had become available, e.g., Vilmar's Deutsche Literatur Geschichte, Simrock's New High German translation of the Nibelungenlied and Grimm's Deutsche Mythologie.
At the same time the reading program in the offered courses became richer. In addition to Lessing's Emilia Galotti his Nathan der Weise was now taken up in the fifth quarter, and some reading of the post-Classical period was assigned to the students of the sixth quarter, Jean Paul's Quintus Fixlein was, for example, made the basis of class discussions and literary surveys. With all that original grammar-translation method was still preserved, and Millikin stated in the departmental report of 1877 that this method is "the only sure and usually the shortest road to accurate and fluent speech."
Such was the state of German Studies at Ohio State University when the first departmental chairperson, Professor Millikin, resigned in 1881. The burden that fell upon his successor, Miss Williams, was considerably lighter, since in the meantime it had been decided to separate the foreign languages and literatures from English. This was only the beginning of a reorganization of the program in modern languages, for in 1885, French and German became independent disciplines. It is thus, from 1886 on that we can properly speak of a German Department, and Miss Williams was now solely responsible for the French instruction at the university.
The first chairman of the new German Department, Ernst Eggers, was born in the province of Hanover in 1855. After having passed through the Gymnasium of his hometown, he went to France and continued his studies at the Sorbonne and the Colge de France. He then emigrated to the United States where he continued his education at the Michigan State Normal School. For ten years he taught German in high school on Wisconsin and Michigan, until he joined the German Department of the Ohio State University as an assistant. In 1888 he was promoted to an assistant professorship, and two years later to a full professorship. He held the chairmanship of the department until 1903 when tortuously painful migraines, from which he had suffered for many years, drove him to suicide.
Under Professor Eggers' stewardship the German offerings were extended to a four-year course, culminating in the reading and discussion of Goethe's Faust. Yet proficiency in the spoken language also received a boost under Eggers' administration. A course in German conversation was introduced in 1891, and four years later a Germania Club was founded, whose weekly meetings were open to anyone who had taken one year of college German and was eager to acquire a certain amount of fluency in the foreign tongue. These additional offerings proved quite an attraction to the students; in 1891 there were 411 students taking German during the course of the year; within the next ten years this figure was to climb to 1465.
This increase in enrollment necessitated additional teaching personnel, and in the last decade of the 19th century, Mr. Mesloh and Mr. Eisenlohr were added to the staff. Before joining the German Department, Mr. Eisenlohr has been the leader of the University Band since 1883. Thus by the time of his retirement in 1933 he had served the Ohio State University for fully 50 years.
Professor Eggers also saw to it that the library holdings grew with the growth of the department. He founded a German Library Association and succeeded in inducing two wealthy citizens, Mssrs. John and Louis Siebert, to make yearly contributions of $100 each toward the purchase of new German books. By 1903, the time of Professor Eggers' death, the offering of the German Department had been greatly extended to include Old Norse, Sanskrit, Gothic, Old High German, the history of the German language, German cultural history, not to mention numerous literature courses in modern prose and drama.
It was for this reason that Professor Eggers' successor rebaptized the German Department the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. This successor was Professor Lewis Addison Rhoades, born in Skaneateles, N.Y., in 1860. After having received his Ph.D. at the University of Goettingen in 1892, he had taught at the Universities of Michigan, Cornell, and Illinois before joining the faculty of the Ohio State University in 1903. His interest in the methods of teaching was so keen that shortly after his arrival on the Columbus campus he introduced a course on the "Teaching of German," which was repeated yearly until 1910, the year of Rhoades' untimely death. At that time when the department became orphaned again it consisted of one associate professor, three assistant professors and one assistant.
The Evans Administration (1911-1945)
In 1911 the German Department could celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary, and its future seemed promising and well-secured. This was the year when the graduate school of the Ohio State University was organized, and one of the very first graduate students to earn a Ph.D. at the Ohio State University had chosen German literature as a major field, receiving his degree almost 20 years before the first Ph.D. was awarded in French. His name was Maximilian J. Rudwin and his dissertation a treatment and exposition of the devil scenes in the German Religious Drama of the Middle Ages. It was published in 1913 in a highly respected German series of scholarly publications. Equally propitious was the fact that the new chairman of the department was to guide its destinies for almost 35 years and thus assure a stability which the department had lacked so far. It did not detract from its soundness that the department now returned to the more modest name "Department of German," to which it has remained true until the present time.
The man who took over the department in 1911 was Marshall Blakemore Evans. He was born in Boston in 1874, had attended the distinguished Boston Latin School and specialized in Classical languages and literatures at Boston University. After receiving his bachelor's degree in 1896, he went abroad and studied English and German philology at Goettingen and Bonn, counting among his teachers such famous scholars as Heyne, Litzmann, Roethe and Wilmans. He returned to America with his doctor's degree from the University of Bonn, where he had devoted himself to the study of the early German Hamlet translations and stage adaptations. The second field of his scholarly endeavor was German medieval religious drama, especially the Passion Plays. His interest in this literature was to remain strong to the end of his scholarly career, and some of his future students (e.g. Rienhold Nordsieck and Frederic Kramer) were to make notable contributions in the area. After his return from Bonn Evans had accepted a position at the University of Wisconsin, whose German Department was at the time probably the most distinguished in the United States, thanks to the presence of Alexander Hohlfeld. Evans remained at Wisconsin until he assumed the chairmanship of the German Department of the Ohio State University in 1911.
At the beginning of the second decade of our century the position of the German Department of the Ohio State University was more firmly established than that of many another in the United States. In 1914/15 the University had a total enrollment of 4,597 students and of these 2,291, i.e. 50%, were registered in German courses! But the outbreak of the First World War was to inflict a blow from which the department did not recover for many years. The enrollment figures speak a language whose clarity leaves nothing to be desired:
- 1914/15 2291 students
- 1915/16 1583 students
- 1916/17 654 students
- 1917/18 149 students
As the number of students shrank, so did the number of courses from which the students were able to choose. In 1918 there were only 20 German courses left on the books. A goodly number of offerings, some of them rather recent additions to the program--e.g., a course on the literature of the Empire, a course on 19th century lyrics, two offerings in German folklore--had become war casualties.
Even the fact that at the beginning of the war years the members of the department could point to respectable research activities, did not dampen the anti-German feeling. Among the publications of 1916 were listed: a beginning grammar text by Professor Evans and Assistant Professor Keidel, an article on "Experimental Phonetics as an Aid to the Study of Languages" by Assistant Professor Sara T. Barrows. Translations of Rilke poems and of Max Halbe's play Jugend by the same author, translations of playlets and poems by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, and additional articles on pedagogical subjects in the periodical Monatshefte. It is not without irony that the one member of the department who was most active as a writer and litterateur, Ludwig Lewisohn, was to become the blackest of the black German sheep and eventually the center of one of the most notorious causes celebres.
Lewisohn, German-born but educated in the United States, had joined the department in 1911. Although barely 30 years old, he had already made a name for himself as a writer and critic, a frequent contributor to H.L. Mencken's Smart Set, and above all as the authorized American translator of the two most eminent and successful German playwrights of the century, Gerhart Hauptmann and Hermann Sudermann. Yet with the outbreak of the First World War and especially after America's entry into the holocaust, Lewisohn's situation became more and more tenuous. In his later autobiographical account Up Stream (1922) he gave detailed and impressive report of the narrowmindedness and persecution which he had to endure until 1918, at which time he found it advisable to ask for a year's leave of absence prior to his final resignation from his position at the Ohio State University.
The statement in his book on The Spirit of Modern German Literature that "the best living writers were liberals, radicals, cultivators of a Goethean freedom" had sufficed to brand Lewisohn as a pro-German agitator, and his basic pacifism was enough to call down on him the ire of a long list of super-patriots. President William Oxley Thompson tried for a time to protect Lewisohn from the most hysterical nationalistic attacks, but the chauvinistic feeling ran so high that Thompson eventually saw no way of saving him. Only a few characteristic utterances should be recorded here. In a letter the Chairman of the American Defence Society Committee on Americanization addressed to President Thompson the rhetorical question:
Furthermore have you not found that about every idea that occurs in German science has emanated from the brains of other nations, simply written up in a voluminous and elaborate manner and as a rule too cumbersome and clumsy for the quick brains of our American students?
And as if this were not enough, the writer of the letter enclosed a printed pamphlet which declared simply that: "German literature is practically non-existent." It became hard to protect Lewisohn from such prejudices; what made it even harder was his careless and questionable attitude in money matters. In addition to a good portion of ill-will he left behind a host of unpaid debts, the largest of them a $5,000 personal loan from President Thompson.
At the end of the war the staff of the department had shrunk to one professor, four assistant professors and one part-time instructor. What was left of the course offerings was mainly in the nature of elementary and intermediate instruction. At the Ohio State Univesity, German literature was now, indeed, "practically nonexistent!" In former years the bulletin for incoming students had warned that those who planned to take up German as their major subject must not start with the fundamentals of the language as late as their first college year. This warning now disappeared. And well it might, for there was hardly a high school left in which this "barbarian tongue" was still taught.
It took the better part of the third decade of our century to gain again for German even a modest place among the disciplines taught at the Ohio State University. In spite of the efforts of chairman Evans and his colleagues the number of students and of new courses for these students grew but slowly. There were 459 students taking German in 1921, and the number of courses slipped to nine. Of these only two were courses in literature. Five years later the number of students passed the one thousand mark again, yet there were still no more than 14 courses and most of them offered work in composition and pedagogy, although a course on Faust and another on Heine had made their reappearance in the early twenties.
Still, it was this reduced German Department of the Ohio State University that helped to provide the impetus for the development of a new scientific discipline which gained more and more ground in this country and finally became one of the leading and most influential scholarly endeavors of our century. We are talking about the field of modern linguistics with its attempt to make the study of language an exact science, insisting--against the "mentalist" and historical approach of traditional philology--upon purely descriptive exactitude, forming an alliance with mathematics and behaviorist sciences, especially with sociology. It is surely no exaggeration to call Leonard Bloomfield one of the founding fathers and most successful promoters of this new discipline; and it was as a member of the German Department of the Ohio State University from 1921-1926 that Bloomfield developed the basic tenets of this new approach to language. From the Ohio State University Bloomfield issued his "Call for the Organization Meeting," which led to the founding of the Linguistic Society. It was as a member of the German Department of the Ohio State University that he published "A Set of Postulates for the Science of Language," in which he stressed form and meaning, morphemes, sememes and phonemes, constructions and constructional meanings, categories and parts if speech. Simeon Potter in his book Language in the Modern World (1964) calls Bloomfield's manifesto a daring attempt to apply mathematical principles to human speech on the assumption that the postulational method can further the study of language, because it forced us to state explicitly whatever we assume, to define our terms, and to decide what things are interdependent.
It is true that the "bible" of modern linguistics, Bloomfield's magnum opus Language (1933) and his path-breaking studies of the Malayo-Polynesian languages and the speech of the Algonquin Indians were published after he had left the Ohio State University and moved to Yale University. But our department can be considered one of the cradles (if such a metaphor may be permitted) of the new science of linguistics.
Bloomfield was not the only internationally known Sprachwissenschaftler at the Ohio State University during the Evans era. Teaching here at the same time--and actually much longer than Bloomfield, namely from 1917 to 1832--was Hans Kurath. Kurath was born in Austria but acquired his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago with a dissertation on the semantic sources of the emotional expressions in Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, and the Germanic languages (1921). Although a foreigner, or perhaps rather because he was a foreigner, he was particularly sensitive to the sound and elocution of American speech, and to this interest we owe his book on American Pronunciation (1928) and his monumental work, The Linguistic Atlas of New England. This later study, inspired by the great European linguistic atlases of Germany, was compiled and edited (1939-43) after he had moved from the Ohio State University to Brown University. When he returned to the Middle West, Kurath became one of the founders and shining lights of the famous Linguistic Institute at the University if Michigan.
Of all good things there are three--so the German proverb runs--and in Evans' German Department there was a third great philologist, Hans Sperber, who came to the Ohio State University in 1934 and taught here until his retirement in 1955. Deprived by the Nazis of the academic chair which he had held at the University of Cologne, he was the first in a long series of anti-Hitler refugees who were to enrich the study of Germanic languages and literatures in their new homeland immensely in the years to come. It is in a way ironic that Sperber found a home for his American activities at a university which had counted Leonard Bloomfield among its members. Had Bloomfield still been at the Ohio State University in 1934--he had left eight years earlier--the sparks would have flown, for Sperber was as dedicated a "mentalist" as Bloomfield was an anti-mentalist. In one of his earliest books, Ãœber den Affekt als Ursache der Sprachveraenderung (1914) Sperber had stated his basic contention that change of meaning is not caused by the conceptual content of the word but by its emotional tone. In numerous studies, some of which have now become classic, he demonstrated the interdependence of linguistic history and cultural history. Nowhere is the relationship shown more brilliantly than in his investigations into the influence if the religious experience of the Pietist sects upon the language of the 18th century (1930). It was this concern which also led him, shortly after he took up his work at the Ohio Sate University, to the massive study of American Political Terms (1962). Here he traced the birth of political slogans and their impact upon the mentality of contemporaries as well as future generations.
Sperber's truly humanistic concern with language has inspired the writings of his disciple Wolfgang Fleischhauer, who had followed his teacher from Cologne to the Ohio State University in 1936, and who is fortunately still with us. In penetrating studies Fleischhauer demonstrated the living history of certain words (e.g., "innig" and "Zusammenhang") and has shown how semantic changes have taken place under the impact of intellectual movements and emotional attitudes. In recent years he has also devoted himself to dialectology. Encouraged by the interest of Dieter Cunz, our later chairman, in immigration history, he investigated the dialect spoken in some small Ohio towns by a population whose forefathers had come to Auglaize County from the German province of Westphalia more than a hundred years ago.
With the influx of refugees from 1934 on, the German Department of the Ohio State University, as did German departments throughout the country, became more cosmopolitan than it had been before. In addition during Evan's chairmanship another "alien" element was absorbed. In 1943 Russian was introduced at the Ohio State University, and for administrative reasons the new discipline was placed under the tutelage of the German Department, which now became the "Department of German and Russian." But not only for administrative reasons. In the person of Peter Epp, born in Russia of German parentage and a member of the German Department since 1934, it had the man who was capable of teaching the new subject to the students of the Ohio State University. During the long years of his illness and after his death, his wife, Justina Epp, was the Russian department at the Ohio State University. This until 1962, when under the chairmanship of Leon I. Twarog, the Department of Slavic Languages became an independent unit. Considering Mrs. Epp's devotion to her students and the endless hours she spent with each of them outside of the classroom, it is no exaggeration to state that she was, indeed, a whole department all by herself.
The awakening of interest in Russian was, of course, the fruit of the Second World War. For the German Department the war years were again a trying period. Not that the hysteria which had destroyed the study of German in the First World War revived. But between 1941 and 1945 the young men of our nation carried guns instead of books and spent their days in foxholes instead of the study carrols of the library. As the general enrollment receded during the war years--it had already suffered a decade earlier under the impact of the Great Depression--so did the registration in the German courses; and in fact, German was harder hit than many another discipline. Since 1933, and the advent of the Nazis in Germany, all things German, including the language and literature, had become causa non-grata in the United States. A half dozen years before the outbreak of hostilities in Europe the German Department had already lost a good number of students. In 1937/38, for example, when the student population amounted to 17,411, the German Department showed a total enrollment of only 1761 students in all four quarters of the academic year. But a year earlier with a considerably smaller total student population (15,019) 1920 students had still taken German. Now the department could weather the storm of the war years only by the introduction of the Army Specialized Training Program, through which a small group of selected soldiers received intensive instruction in all aspects of German civilization.
It was at this juncture and under such circumstances that Professor M. Blakemore Evans reached the status of an emeritus. And if we try to evaluate the almost 35 years of his service, we have above all to point to the fact that with such men as Bloomfield, Kurath and Sperber the German Department of the Ohio State University was a stronghold of linguistics (or philology, if one prefers the somewhat more traditional and more comprehensive designation.) In the field of literature the picture was not equally bright. Evans' own contribution to literary scholarship was--at least quantitatively--quite modest. If his name was nonetheless familiar to his colleagues in America's German departments, this was mainly due to his textbook editions and to the grammar for elementary instruction which he had written in cooperation with Robert O. Roeseler, a member of the department from 1925 to 1934, and which was widely used in colleges and universities all over the country. Ernst Feise, who in later years was to become one of the best known German literary scholars and after 1931 the director of the famous German Summer School of Middlebury College, was connected with the German Department of the Ohio State University for only three years (1924-1927). From here he moved to the John Hopkins University. To be sure, another literary scholar, August C. Mahr, stayed for a quarter of a century. After his studies in Germany (Heidelberg) and some teaching experience at Yale and Stanford he joined the faculty of the Ohio State University in 1931 and remained a member of the German Department until his retirement in 1956. But none of his noteworthy scholarly writings were in the field of German literature proper. In his books he was concerned with the Origin of the Greek Tragic Form (1938) and the Cyprus Passion Cycle (1947); and in later years he devoted his attention to the history and language of the Tuscarawas Ohio Indians. He rendered valuable service to the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society in its project to restore the first Ohio "towns" of Schoenbrunn and Gnadenhuetten. Such thoroughly German names indicate clearly that it had been a German missionary, David Zeisberger, who had founded these permanent settlements for the nomadic Indians in the seventies of the 18th century. Mahr translated from the German and annotated Zeisberger's diaries, one of the most interesting records of the life and conversion of the Indians. (Unfortunately, this invaluable document, covering the many years Zeisberger lived and worked with the Indians, is still unpublished). Mahr also contributed to our understanding of place names of the Delaware and Algonquin Indians and their designations of the flora and fauna along the Tuscarawas River. But all this had very little to do with German literature. It was competently taught by such men as Walter Gausewitz (1928-1947), Reinhold Nordsieck (1931-1950), and Frederic Kramer (1933-1947); but during these years the critical evaluation of German literature received little creative enrichment from the staff of the German Department of the Ohio State University.
The Blume Administration (1945-1956)
This was to change radically when Bernhard Blume became Evans' successor in 1945. Born in Stuttgart in 1901, he had made a name for himself in German literary circles at the age of 24. He owed this name to the remarkable success of his first stage play, Fahrt nach der Südsee, which was to be followed until 1933 by a number of dramas, serious as well as comic. At the same time he worked as a Dramaturg (literary adviser and adaptor) for the State Theatre of Württemberg in Stuttgart. Realizing in 1933 that the victory of the Nazis would force him out of Germany and that he would have to earn his living abroad not by making literature but by interpreting it, Blume acquired his doctor's degree at the Technical University of Stuttgart with a dissertation on Arthur Schnitzler (1936). Even today, 35 years later, this study is among the most valid and sensitive interpretations of the great Austrian author. After his escape from Nazi Germany Blume found a position at Mills College in California, and during his nine years of service there he not only created a German program but reorganized the general curriculum in modern European literature. It was, therefore, a highly versatile and productive man of letters who assumed the chairmanship of the German Department of the Ohio State University in 1945.
Within this short survey it is impossible to give even a sketchy account of the breadth and depth of Blume's contributions to literary criticism. Though its span reaches from Klopstock in the middle of the 18th century to Bert Brecht in the middle of the 20th, Blume's interpretive efforts center mainly on the works of Goethe, Kleist, Rile, and Thomas Mann. In later years has broadened the scope of his endeavors, concentrating not so much on the work of given individual authors, but following through the centuries the variations and developments of certain poetic motifs, e.g. the island, the shipwreck, the water image - and not only as they appear in German literature. It is true, that a number of Blum's fascinating findings were published after he left the Ohio State University in 1956. But some of his finest work was done while he administered our German Department, e.g. his monograph on Thomas Mann und Goethe (1949) and his long essay "Kleist und Goethe" (1946), which is so full of penetrating insights into the relationship of two of the greatest German writers that it was later (1968) included in a German anthology assembling the best samples of Kleist criticism in our century.
Bernhard Blume was not only a first-rate literary critic--in fact, the stylistic perfection of his writing is rare in German scholarship on both sides of the Atlantic. He was not only an inspiring teacher, from the start he also showed a high degree of administrative skill; and administrative skill he definitely needed, especially at the start. There were unavoidable tensions in the department, which for so many years had become used to the very different personality and pace of "Papa Evans." And there were also logistic difficulties with which the new chairman had to cope. With the end of the war and the passing of the G.I. Educational Benefits Bill, a swarm of returning soldiers descended upon the campuses of the American universities, which were ill prepared for such a sudden onslaught. In the first school-year after the war the enrollment in German at the Ohio State University was still manageable: in the four quarters of the year 1945/46 a total of 1703 students were registered in German courses. But in the following year the figure jumped to 3218, which meant that approximately 1000 students had to be taught in German classes during each regular quarter of the year. It was difficult to provide for such an emergency, all the more so since it could be foreseen that in due time, with the graduation of the returning G.I. generation, the figure would recede again. And so it did. In the year 1950/51 the number of students enrolled in German courses fell back to 1427, and it changed but little in the remaining five years of Bernhard Blume's administration.
But for the time being new staff was needed, especially since in the early years of the new administration some of the members who had served for many years under Evans (Gausewitz, Kramer, Nordsieck) left the department. The first Blume appointee was the writer of this historical sketch, Oskar Seidlin, who will, as tact and discretion require, present here but a minimal sketch of his academic career and his activities at the Ohio State University. Still a student without a terminal degree, he left his homeland immediately after Hitler's seizure of power and went to Basel in Switzerland, where he acquired his Ph.D. in 1935. While in Basel he made his living (if living it can be called) by free-lance contributions to Swiss newspapers, the publication of children's books, and a volume of poetry. In 1938 he emigrated to the United States and in the following year began teaching German literature at Smith College in Massachusetts. In 1942 he was inducted into the United States Army, in which he served for almost four years, taking part in the earliest stage of the invasion of Europe, and finally working with the team which revived and reorganized the destroyed German media of communication, i.e. newspapers and radio stations.
Blume met him in the summer of 1946 at the German Summer School of Middlebury College where Seidlin has taught frequently before and since the war. In the fall of the same year he came to the Ohio State University, and at the time of this writing he has now served the institution for 23 years. His main fields of work have been the Classical and Romantic periods, as well as the early 20th century. His scholarly contributions amount to well over 150 reviews and articles, some of which later published as books, the English ones in the volume Essays in German and Comparative Literature (1961, 2nd. Ed. 1966), the German ones in the collection Von Goethe zu Thomas Mann (1963, 2nd. ed. 1969). His most comprehensive critical venture is his book on the great Romantic poet Joseph von Eichendorff (Versuche Über Eichendorff, 1965), which has been very favorably received both here and in Europe. A good number of his essays, especially those on Goethe, Eichendorff and Thomas Mann has been incorporated as model pieces in various anthologies of modern literary criticism, published here and in Germany. To the American undergraduate student he is best known as the co-author of a volume in the Barnes & Noble College Outline Series, An Outline History of German Literature (1948, 3rd. Ed. 1966). A good number of these publications were of course written and published, as the dates indicate, under Blume's successor.
With the teams Sperber-Fleischhauer in philology and Blume-Seidlin in literature the demands of the advanced undergraduate and graduate students were well met. Especially the work in the graduate seminars was of a caliber which earned the German Department of the Ohio State University a highly respected reputation in the country. But Blume was equally concerned with the quality of the elementary and intermediate instruction in his department. With the growth of the student population in the fifties and with the increase of graduate students earning their education by serving as teaching assistants, a large number of the beginners' classes had to be turned over to young and inexperienced teachers. In order to insure high standards of instruction, the work of these teaching assistants had to be supervised by some of the experienced personnel who could plan with them the conduct of their classes, give them helpful methodical hints and correct their mistakes. Blume was anxious--and his successor turned out to be even more so--that a systematic training program be instituted, a regular supervision of the young people entrusted with teaching duties. This function was assumed first by Wayne Wonderley, a member of the department from 1947 to 1960, and later by Glenn H. Goodman (in the department since 1947), whose exclusive interest lay in elementary and intermediate teaching, and good elementary and intermediate teaching at that.
Blume met head-on another danger that developed in the fifties and grew to dangerous proportions in the sixties: the emergence of the professor as primadonna (or the primadonna as professor). In many departments and in most American universities there blossomed forth a new breed of the privileged few who considered it beneath their dignity to teach any but the most advanced students, and as few of them as humanly possible. Blume saw to it that this situation, which is undoubtedly one of the sources of the student restiveness in the sixties, did not develop in his department; and in this respect too his successor proved to be just as adamant, if not more so. The chairman himself and the most distinguished members of the department, men who enjoyed world-wide reputations, taught der-die-das like the most inexperienced instructor or teaching assistant, and they did it with the same dedication which they brought to the most advanced graduate seminar. If in the last 15 years the German Department of the Ohio State University has enjoyed the reputation of being one of the most harmonious and homogeneous in the country, this is mainly due to the high morale and to this democratic spirit which the chairmen have instilled in its members.
The course program of the department was by now well established, and very few changes were needed. There was, in addition to the elementary and intermediate instruction, the array of philological courses topped by a survey history of the German language, for which Sperber's compendium, Geschichte der deutschen Sprache (later revised and enlarged by Wolfgang Fleischhauer in 1958) was used as the basic text. There was a sequence of six courses for advanced undergraduates and graduate students that offered in a two year cycle a panoramic view of German literature from the 18th century to the 20th. There was a special course on Faust. Blume introduced a few new courses: an "intensive" course during the summer quarter, in which the student had three German lessons a day and could do the work of three quarters in one term. The most important new offering was a course on German literary masterpieces in translation. With this course Blume hoped to tear down parochial walls and to offer students who knew no German the opportunity to acquire a modest familiarity with the great moments of German literature. When Seidlin taught the course for the first time in 1951, it had an enrollment of 7 students; today it draws 140, and there would be even more if the department did not limit it to this number. As we shall see later, Blume's successor undertook in effect to "double" this course.
There were other services which the department rendered the university at large. One of the most demanding tasks was the administration of the foreign language examination required by the Graduate School of Ph.D. candidates in other disciplines. For many years now this thankless duty has been in the hands of Professor Paul Gottwald, who took his Ph.D. at the Ohio State University in 1955, and whose inexhaustible patience and painstaking meticulousness make him the ideal man for an un ideal job.
To reach interested people outside the confines of the university itself, the German Department began to take part in the offerings of the University Radio Station (WOSU) and later the University Television Station (WOSU-TV), presenting language instruction over the air, and German sketches and dialogues for those listeners who had successfully absolved the initial stages. At first Glenn H. Goodman was responsible for these programs; and in 1958, under Blume's successor, they received the First Prize in the class "Systematic Instruction:Telecourses," awarded by the Institute for Education by Radio-Television. Goodman's place was later taken by Professor Ilsedore Edse, who had earned her Ph.D. at the Ohio State University in 1960, and about whose activities "over the air" we shall report briefly in our next chapter.
Also over WOSU Oskar Seidlin offered a series of lectures on Thomas Mann, Kafka, and Rilke, and in 1949, the Goethe Year, a comprehensive radio course on Germany's greatest poet. Goethe's two-hundredth anniversary in 1949 offered the opportunity for a number of special events. Oskar Seidlin presented Goethe lectures at a great number of colleges and universities; he journeyed as far East as the John Hopkins University, as far West as the University of Washington in Seattle, as far South as the University of the South in Tennessee. On the Columbus campus an impressive celebration was arranged by the German Department, at which the German writer Ernst Wiechert, at that time at the peak of his fame, delivered the main address.
And since we are talking about festive extra-curricular events, we might as well mention the Christmas Parties of the German Club. Students of our department and of others as well gathered to sing--or at least to listen to--German Christmas carols, accompanied by our secretary of many years, Anna Luise Shearer (1950-1964), who handled the accordion almost as skillfully as the typewriter and the other paraphernalia of the departmental office.
The Cunz Administration (1957-1969)
This office was destined to lose its master again. In 1956 Bernhard Blume was offered and accepted the Kuno Francke Professorship of German Art and Culture at Harvard University, the most distinguished academic chair in the field of Germanics in the United States. It was obvious that a successor to Blume would not be easy to find. So the department was administered for one year by an acting chairman (Wayne Wonderley), until the selection committee and the members of the department decided in favor of Dieter Cunz, then Professor of German at the University of Maryland.
Dieter Cunz was born in 1910 in a village in the Westerwald and grew up in Schierstein, a suburb of Wiesbaden. At various German universities he studied History, German Literature, and the History of Religion. He was awarded his Ph.D. in 1934 by the University of Frankfurt with a dissertation on Duke Johann Casimir of the Palatinate, one of the leaders of the German Protestant League in the 16th century. But the granting of the Ph.D. meant to Cunz not the "commencement" of his academic life, but its end--at least in Germany. A dedicated and outspoken opponent of Hitler, he left his homeland immediately after having finished his university studies and went to Switzerland. Here he lived--meagerly enough--from his writings for various newspapers. In addition, during his four years in Switzerland he produced no less than three books: a short monograph on the great Swiss reformer Ulrich Zwingli, a collection of "Fairy Tales for Adults," Um uns herum, and a Constitutional History of Europe Since the Early 16th Century. The last work was published as a concise handbook for the layman in one of the most distinguished and popular scholarly book series.
In 1938 he emigrated to the United States. After a year spent doing some of the oddest jobs in New York, he received a stipend of $900 from the Carl Schurz Memorial Foundation for the purpose of cataloguing and organizing the library of the Society for the History of the Germans in Maryland. Located in Baltimore, Md., this was the last surviving society in the United States dedicated to the study and preservation of the history of German immigration to America. Cunz did much more than simply discharge the duties of this appointment of one year, after which he started his teaching career at the University of Maryland, where he remained for eighteen years. As secretary of the Society in the following years, he breathed new life into the almost moribund organization. Above all, after a lapse of many years, he revived the publication of the Report of the Society for the History of the Germans in Maryland. Under his editorship this became one of the main media of publication in the field of immigration history. It is not surprising that upon his departure from Maryland he was made an honorary member of the Society and the editorial supervisor of its future Reports.
His activities with the Society had the most fruitful consequences in Dieter Cunz's life. They had aroused his interest in the history of the German immigration to America and it was in this field that Cunz attained his most outstanding scholarly achievements. He became one of the most distinguished and productive American writers on immigration history. In countless articles he told the stories of German immigrants--from John Lederer, who made his exploratory trips into the unknown Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and south into the Carolinas in the late sixties of the 17th century, to Wernher von Braun, who helped to lay the groundwork for the exploratory trips into unknown space and to the moon. Cunz's most massive achievement in this field was his The Maryland Germans: A History (1948), a book which today is considered one of the high points of immigration historiography. He remained true to this interest to his very end. His last book, They Came From Germany (1966), is a gallery of portraits of Germans who became useful, famous, and influential citizens in their new homeland.
In the field of German literature proper it was the eighteenth century that attracted him most. One of his regular courses at the Ohio State University was dedicated to this period. And shortly before his untimely death the new edition of the autobiographical writings of Heinrich Jung-Stilling, friend of young Goethe and one of the leading 18th century pietists, was released, which Cunz had prepared for the famous German Reclam Publishing House. To this edition he contributed a long and penetrating introduction, which gives ready proof of his profound knowledge of the intellectual movements of the 18th century.
No less intense was Cunz's interest in the methods of teaching German, particularly the teaching of elementary and intermediate German. It is surely more than a random coincidence that his last publication, which appeared in print shortly after his death, deals with a pedagogical problem: the coordination of the teaching of German in the high schools and colleges. This vital interest led him to the writing of his college text, German for Beginners (1958) a grammar book widely used throughout the country and revised in a new edition (1965) with the cooperation of Ulrich Groenke. Groenke had been brought over from Germany by Cunz in 1959, because he seemed eminently qualified to train the department's young instructors and teaching assistants and to supervise their teaching. --Due to the rapid growth of the number of students of the German Department under Cunz's administration, both on the undergraduate and graduate levels, this concern for effective guidance became even more important and pressing than it had been under Cunz's predecessor.
In due course we shall demonstrate statistically this growth of the student population, which required as strict a supervisor as Groenke. The actual field of his scholarly interest was the Nordic languages, especially Islandic, old and new; and he had the opportunity to introduce some of our graduate students to this field, e.g. in a seminar in Norwegian. But his main duty at the Ohio State University was the supervision of the "greenhorns." For this task he had gained vast experience as a member of the Maryland Overseas Program, the "soldiers' universities" which the University of Maryland had established wherever American GIs were stationed abroad. In 1967 after eight years of supervisory work at the Ohio State University Groenke returned to Germany to accept the chair of Nordic Languages at the University of Cologne. His place was taken by Professor Werner Haas, who came to us from the University of Massachusetts and who has further tightened and systematized the supervision of the teaching assistants. The same unusual gift for organization which makes him so effective at this was recognized by the present Director of the German Summer School of Middlebury College when he made Werner Haas his administrative assistant.
The method of elementary instruction practiced by Cunz, Groenke and Haas, has remained mildly conservative. Use has long been made of the language laboratory and emphasis is placed on exposing the student at the earliest stage to as much spoken German as possible. But the explanation and practice of grammatical and syntactical principles were never abandoned, as has been the case at many institutions which consider the laboratory and the machine the panacea of language instruction. The integration of grammar assignment and laboratory use has been in the hands of Professor Gottwald, who worked out a meticulous system which helped support the classroom instruction by a carefully coordinated use of the laboratory.
To achieve such a coordination was no mean task considering the number of students who had to be taught. It is common knowledge that the student population in the sixties grew rapidly all over the United States, and the Ohio State University was no exception. The following statistical data will show how the enrollment in German courses grew, and a comparison with the total number of students will demonstrate that the German Department under Cunz's administration often grew proportionally considerably faster than did the University population as a whole. The figures given here are for the fall quarter only; the reader will have to more than triple them to arrive at the total enrollment in German during a full academic year.
|Year||Total Enrollment||German Department Enrollment|
The growth of graduate student enrollment follows a similar pattern. During Blume's administration the department had between 8 and 10 graduate students, and this figure changed only very slightly in the period 1945-1957. But after this the rise in the number of graduate students was conspicuous. In 1958 there were 18, 21 in 1959, 17 in 1960, 17 in 1961, 22 in 1962, 23 in 1963, 21 in 1964, 23 in 1965, 38 in 1966, 35 in 1967, and 42 in 1968.
This is the place to point generally to the enormous growth of the Graduate School of the Ohio State University, and how it is reflected in the German Department. As we mentioned previously, the Graduate School was instituted in 1911, the year in which Evans became chairman of the German Department. During the 34 years of Evan's administration the Graduate School awarded the Ph.D. degree to 22 candidates in the field of German. Under the Blume administration, which lasted a little less than one third as long (11 years), 14 candidates received their Ph.D. in German. And during the following 12 years of Dieter Cunz's chairmanship this figure was exactly doubled. From 1957 to 1969 28 students earned their doctorates. During the same 12 year period the Graduate School awarded 71 MA degrees to students of German literature or philology. The corresponding figure in the ten preceding years had been 16.
But we thoroughly dislike getting drowned in statistics. The individual students and their achievements are as essential a part if the history of a department as are the department's professors and their achievements. Yet, when mentioning some outstanding "products" of our department since the opening of the graduate school in 1911, we have to limit ourselves to a few names and to the shortest possible indication of their accomplishments (the year in parenthesis is the one in which the Ph.D. degree was received): Jacques R. Breitenbucher (1934), chairman of the German Department, Miami University; Harold A. Basilius (1935), chairman of the German Department and later Dean of the Arts and Science College, Wayne University; Frederic J. Kramer (1935), chairman of the German Department and later Dean of the Arts and Science College, University of Syracuse; Reinhold Nordsieck (1935), chairman of the German Department, University of Tennessee; Gilbert Jordan (1936), chairman of the German Department, Southern Methodist University; Paul K. Whitaker (1942), Professor at the University of Kentucky, and frequent organizer of the Kentucky Foreign Language Conference; Humphrey Milnes (1949), Professor at the University of Toronto and active in research; Adolf E. Schroeder (1950), for many years chairman at Kent State University , as of 1969 chairman of the German Department at the University of Missouri, well known for a number of scholarly publications and his work in the American Association of Teachers of German; Arne O. Lindberg (1951), chairman of the German Department and later Dean of the Arts and Science College, Washington State University; Egon Schwarz (MA 1951), one of the most productive and respected younger germanists and chairman of the German Department of Washington University in St. Louis; Elisabeth O-Bear (1953), chairman of the German Department, Otterbein College; Paul Gottwald (1955), whose dedicated services to our department have already been described; Sigurd Burckhardt (1956), who will be mentioned later on in this report; Kurt Guddat (1959), chairman of the German Department, Ohio Wesleyan University; Truman Webster (1959), chairman of the German Department, University of Vermont; Ilsedore Edse (1960), who has been mentioned before in connection with her work for WOSU and WOSU-TV; Gerald Gillespie (1961), now at the University of Pennsylvania, author of a book on the Baroque playwright Lohenstein and of many remarkable publications both here and in Germany; Alan P. Cottrell (1963), teaching at the University of Michigan, and author of some fine scholarly papers; Peter S. Seadle (1964), chairman of the German Department, Franklin and Marshall College; LaVern Rippley (1965), chairman of the German Department, St. Olaf College in Minnesota and active in published research; Marvin Schindler (1965), whose book on Gryphius will soon be released, teaching at the University of Virginia and Assistant Dean of the Arts and Science College; Johanna Belkin (1966), now an associate professor in our own department; Marion S. Wenger (1969), chairman of the German Department, Goshen College in Indiana. And then there are the many who are teaching literally all over the country, from Maine to Washington, from Louisiana to Canada. One of our graduates, Helmut Tribus (1966) is even a professor of German at Milano, Italy.
After this quick but far-flung excursion into time and space, we now return to the Columbus campus and to the years of the Cunz administration. And having offered a partial list of alumni of the German Department, we now present a list of faculty members under whose guidance some of these students turned into alumni. Dieter Cunz had a remarkably lucky hand in finding new faculty and in warding off, at least for many years, the attempts of other institutions to raid the German Department of the Ohio State University. There were but few of its members who did not at one time or the other receive tempting offers from other universities. Some turned down a whole array of offers, not only from American institutions but from German universities as well--e.g., within three years the universities of Mainz and Munich offered Oskar Seidlin distinguished chairs in German or Comparative Literature.
One of those whom Cunz could keep for a number of years in spite of the most attractive temptations was Sigurd Burckhardt. He had left Germany after finishing his secondary education and earned his BA and MA (in English) at the University of California in Berkeley. For a number of years he taught English at St. Mary's College in Berkeley, but in 1953 he decided to come to the Ohio State University to work under Seidlin. In the summer of 1956 he received his doctor's degree with a dissertation on Goethe's Classical plays. Four years later, in 1960, he was promoted to a full professorship--surely one of the fastest rises anyone has made in the academic world. And it was certainly one of the most deserved advancements. Burckhardt was equally well versed in English and German literature, and his critical contributions to both have been the marvel of literary scholars and writers here and abroad. His readings and interpretations of Shakespeare, Goethe and Kleist are as daring as they are brilliant; and even when they are provocative and bordering on the eccentric, they are of razor-sharp ingenuity and a lucidity which is rare in literary criticism. He left our department in 1963 to build up the German branch of the Division of Literature at the newly-founded University of California at San Diego (La Jolla). Three years later he committed suicide, and only those who know his work can fully appreciate what American literary criticism has lost with this premature death at the age of 50. His essays are of such quality that a posthumous volume of his Shakespeare papers was just published by the Princeton Press (Shakespearean Meanings, 1968); and a collection of his essays on German literature (Goethe, Kleist, Mörike) is being prepared by the Johns Hopkins Press.
Cunz was most anxious to build bridges between the German Department and other literature departments. Thebridge to English was Sigurd Burckhardt. The bridge to the Romance Department was Walter Neumann, Cunz's first appointment after he had taken over the chairmanship. Naumann had studied French literature with the world famous Romance scholar Ernst Robert Curtius, under whose guidance he earned his Ph.D. at the University of Bonn with a dissertation on MallarmÃƒ©. After immigrating to this country, he taught at Oberlin, the University of Wisconsin, and Ohio University in Athens. From there Cunz called him to the Ohio State University in 1957. He was to be our 19th-century man. As such he had proven his mettle with his book on the Austrian playwright Grillparzer (1956). Remaining faithful to Austrian letters, he later published a number of papers on Hugo von Hoffmannsthal, especially on Hoffmannsthal's indebtedness to the Austrian tradition. In 1963 we lost him to the Technical University of Darmstadt which had offered him a chair in European literatures, Cunz had known all along that he would not be able to keep him if and when a suitable invitation came from Germany, since Naumann's family had returned to Germany for good in 1954. But Naumann left the department with a heavy heart, and he has remained close to us over a distance of 4000 miles. In the summer of 1969 he returned as a visiting professor; and his last book, a collection of essays on Hoffmannsthal (1968), he dedicated to his friends in the German Department at the Ohio State University.
So it happened that in 1963 two of our four key men had to be replaced. And again Cunz's hand was lucky. From Germany he brought over Wolfgang Wittowski (1963), who was teaching in a Gymnasium and whose article on Schiller and Hebbel had caught Cunz's attention. Out of the preoccupation with the latter author grew his recent book Der junge Hebbel (1969). He also continued his studies of Schiller and later added a penetrating concern with the works of Kleist and Stifter. His publications and the many lectures which he presented at American and German universities made him well and widely known among his colleagues within the short period of six years. Too well known for our own good, because he recently accepted a very tempting offer from the University of Massachusetts, which he will join in the spring of 1970.
The replacement for Burckhardt was Charles W. Hoffmann. He had received his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois (1956), after having spent two years as a Fulbright scholar in Germany. His graduate studies completed, he went to the University of California at Los Angeles, from where Dieter Cunz called him to the Ohio State University in 1964. What originally recommended him to Cunz and to the other members of the department was his book Opposition Poetry in Nazi Germany (1962), which is as rich in interesting material as it is intelligent in its presentation. But there was another point that counted at least as heavily in Cunz's eyes: in 1962 Hoffmann had received the Distinguished Teaching Award at UCLA, and good teaching was to Cunz at least as important as the publication of research. In this case Cunz's expectations were richly fulfilled. Hoffmann turned out to be one of the most effective teachers in the department. At the same time he continued his research and was asked to deliver a paper on the Swiss author Max Frisch at the symposium on Present Day German Literature, held at the University of Texas (1965). The essay was later published by the University of Texas Press; and his lecture was so impressive that in 1969 the University of Texas invited him again this time to deliver two talks on Bert Brecht.
With this team the German Department of the Ohio State University had an expert in every major era of German literature with one exception: the Baroque period of the middle of the 17th century. Ever since Cunz arrived on the Columbus campus, he was determined to find a specialist on the Baroque, an era which had not been adequately represented at the Ohio State University for decades. He finally found him in Hugo Bekker, an alumnus of the University of Michigan, who had been teaching at the University of Oregon since 1958. Three years later he came to the Ohio State University, fully certified as a Baroque scholar by his publications. But he proved to be anything but a one-track man. He managed to jump 300 hundred years forward in dealing with a contemporary writer, Werner Bergengruen, and to jump more than 300 years back with provocative articles on the Nibelungenlied, on which he has prepared a full-length study. With Fleischhauer, Bekker, and Johanna Belkin, who already boasts interesting publications in so distinguished a journal as the Zeitschrift für deutsche Sprache, the field of medieval philology and literature is indeed very well represented.
After having assembled his faculty, Cunz started to revise the program of the German Department somewhat. He himself offered a two-quarter course in German Civilization, taught in English so that students of other departments could attend. This they did in such numbers that the course had to be "closed" with registration of 50. Finding that the mixture of graduate and undergraduate students in the six general survey courses made for non-homogenous and hard-to-teach classes, he excluded the undergraduates from this sequence and offered for them a series of courses in literary genres instead--i.e., poetry, drama, and the short story. The program of the graduate students was enriched by the introduction of colloquia, somewhat misleadingly called "Individual Studies Groups" and actually similar to the graduate seminars but somewhat free-wheeling and less structured. In this respect they were similar to the newly introduced special courses for undergraduate honors students. Always anxious to improve the elementary and intermediate instruction, he added two courses in conversation to aid the students' development of a respectable proficiency in spoken German. And, as has been mentioned before, Cunz divided the course on German Literature and English Translation where the enrollment had become unmanageable: the first section, taught by Seidlin, dealing with literature from Goethe to the end of the 19th century, the second, taught by Hoffmann, dealing with the 20th century exclusively. Each course now draws close to 150 students.
With this program the department was able to "produce" Danforth and Woodrow Wilson fellows, and it was in turn successful in attracting Woodrow Wilson fellows as graduate students to the Ohio State University. And almost every year at least one of our students was selected to study as a Fulbright fellow in Germany. To carry out the program the department needed 46 instructors in the academic year 1968/69: 24 teaching assistants and 22 members of the regular staff. The latter consisted of 1 Regents professor, 5 professors, 2 associate professors, 6 assistant professors (among them promising young people not yet mentioned: Gisela M. Vitt, Joseph Gray III, and Donald Nelson), and 8 instructors. Or rather, the department needed 47 members, the 47th being our secretary and administrative assistant Maria McCutchen (since 1964) without whose efficiency, helpfulness and composure the other 46--plus countless students--would be utterly lost.
As in earlier years, the regular menu of courses outlined above was enriched by side dishes. The department invited visiting professors from abroad, e.g. Professor Eduard Neumann of the Free University of Berlin (1956) and Professor Albrecht Schöne of Göttingen (1963), whose seminar on German Political Poetry is still unforgotten. Almost every quarter we had a special lecturer, among them some of the most notable scholars in America (Victor Lange, Princeton; William T. Jackson, Columbia; Erich Heller, Northwestern; Berhard Blume, Harvard; Egon Schwarz, Washington University) and in Germany (Walter Killy, Göttingen; Hans Egon Holthusen, Munich; Wilhelm Emrich, Berlin; Fritz Martini, Stuttgart). Whenever possible, these lectures were given in English so that the University as a whole would profit from them. This was in keeping with the German Department's general attempt to give its whole-hearted support to university-wide efforts. Some of our instructors (Bekker, Burckhardt, Naumann) were loaned out to the program of the new Division of Comparative Literature. For the Schiller celebration in 1959, commemorating the two hundredth anniversary of the great playwright, we collaborated with the Theatre Department. It produced Schller's Maria Stuart for this occasion, while the English poet Stephen Spender and Oskar Seidlin presented lectures on Germany's greatest theatrical genius. To reach an audience beyond the campus, Ilsedore Edse continued her programs over WOSU and WOSU-TV, and now her fans are legion. Once a year in spring, any of them converge on Columbus from all parts of Ohio to have luncheon or a Kaffeeklatsch with the woman who instructs them by entertaining them.
All these efforts have been richly rewarded. If on the following pages we list some of the many and high recognitions which the members of the department have reaped, we do so not to pat ourselves on the back or simply to boast our achievements. The history of this department must not only report the department's actions, but the re-actions to its activities as well, its standing in the academic world at large. First there are the honors gathered on the home grounds, on the campus itself. A member of the German Department was among the first group of five faculty people who in 1960 received the $1000 Prize for Distinguished Teaching awarded by the Ohio State Alumni Association. Three times members of the German Department (Seidlin, Cunz, Fleischhauer) were initiated as honorary members into Phi Beta Kappa. Four times the Alfred J. Wright Award "for significant service to organized student activities and for the development of effective student leadership" went to the German Department (Cunz, Seidlin, Edse, Fleischhaur). And four times the Arts College Council also chose a member of the Department of German for the annual Good Teaching Award, given to a member of the College faculty who is worthy of special recognition "by virtue of the excellence of his undergraduate teaching" (Mahr, Cunz, Edse, Seidlin). There is no other department in the Colleges of Arts and Science, which has received this "Teacher of the Year" award more often than has our relatively small German Department. In 1966 the highest distinction came to the German Department when one of its members was designated Regents Professor by the Ohio Board of Regents, the first such appointment in the humanities at the Ohio State University.
Honors from outside the campus were equally impressive. Blume, Burckhardt, Naumann and Seidlin were recipients of Guggenheim Fellowships. Cunz was elected a member of the Advisory Council of the Carl Schurz Memorial Foundation in 1961. At about the same time Seidlin was appointed to the Advisory Council of Princeton University, on which he is now serving a third term. Several members of the department were involved in the activities of the country's leading professional organization representing English and the foreign languages, the Modern Language Association of America. Blume, Hoffmann and Seidlin (3 times) were at one time or the other elected chairmen of MLA sections. Again and aging members of the department were invited to read papers at the annual convention of the Association: Blume, Sperber, Burckhardt, Bekker, Wittowski, Johanna Belkin and Seidlin (5 times). The highest recognition came in 1965, when a member of our department was made First Vice-President of the Modern Language Association, the first time in more than 50 years that an Ohio State University man was elected to a presidential office of the organization. Honors came too from other universities, not the least of them last May, when a member of our department received an honorary degree (Doctor of Humane Letters) from the University of Michigan. And in 1965 the department as a whole was honored when the American Council on Education, after a survey conducted among the faculties of the 106 largest universities and colleges, included the German Department of the Ohio State University among the ten best graduate departments of the country.
Yet the reputation of the department reaches beyond the boundaries of our country. Some of the highest honors were bestowed upon its members by German agencies and organizations. In the summer of 1959 Seidlin was chosen Ford Professor-in-Residence by the Free University of Berlin. Three years later the President of the federal Republic of Germany awarded the Officers' Cross of the Order of Merit to Dieter Cunz, citing specifically "his efforts on behalf of the German language instruction in the United States and his scholarly contributions in the field of German-American immigration history." In 1963 Oskar Seidlin received the Goethe Medal in Gold, awarded by the German Goethe Institute for meritorious work in the service of German culture in a foreign country. And in 1968 the German Academy of Language and Literature bestowed upon him the $1500 Prize for Germanic Studies Abroad, making him the second American ever to receive this honor.
So recognized, the German Department of the Ohio State University would indeed be in a position to celebrate cheerfully the hundredth anniversary of its university, if on the eve of the centennial year a heavy shadow had not fallen upon it. In February 1969 Dieter Cunz suddenly died at the age of 58. Only those who knew him well are fully aware of what a loss we have suffered, yet others have realized it too. Expressions of sorrow and sympathy came from all over the country, literally from hundreds of people whose lives he had touched. A young German writer who had been helped by Dieter Cunz when he arrived in this country, dedicated to Cunz's memory a book he had just published on the History of the Germans in Virginia. The next Report of the Society for the History of the Germans in Maryland will be a memorial volume to Dieter Cunz, containing a complete bibliography of his writings; testimonials of the first student who took his Ph.D. degree under him (Dr. Myron Vent, Washington, D.C.) and of the last (Prof. Walter Knoche, University of Maryland); and as an homage from our university an article by Wolfgang Fleischhauer on "German Communities in Northwestern Ohio." The State of Maryland has done even more. The governor of the State and the Lord Mayor of Baltimore declared the 17th of August, 1969 "German-American Day." It happened to be exactly 6 months after Dieter Cunz's death, and the societies and associations which organized this German-American Day dedicated to the memory of Dieter Cunz, whose life is, as the main speaker expressed it, "a model and a challenge to all of us."
Proud as we are of these tributes to our late chairman, we were even more deeply touched by the dozens of letters from students. Some of them he had never had in class; but he had helped them when they were in trouble, had given them needed advice, or had simply perked them up, by a kindly word when they felt in the dumps. Almost like a refrain there runs through all these letters the writer's assertion that Dieter Cunz's name is indelibly inscribed in his heart.
But his name will outlast the present generation. Upon petition of students and with the strong support of Dr. Charles Babcock, Dean of the College of the Humanities, and the Board of Trustees decided to name the new building, into which all the modern foreign languages will move during the centennial year, the Dieter Cunz Hall of Languages. It will replace Derby Hall, which has housed most of the languages since 1928. At the time of this move the street on which the new Dieter Cunz Hall is located, will be renamed Millikin Road. Thus in the centennial year the name of the man who first taught German at this university will be united with the name of the man who was the German Department's chairman on the eve of the second century of our university, The German Department is aware of and very moved by this symbolic constellation. It accepts it as a pledge and a challenge which it trusts it will be able to meet under the guidance of its chairman, Charles W. Hoffmann. (Chair 1969-1977)