In the “collegiate” curriculum of the freshman and sophomore years, students in the college read classic texts by Livy, Cicero, Herodotus, Homer, Euripides, and Aeschylus. In English, students studied Fowler’s English Grammar and Whately’s Rhetoric. Juniors took a course called simply “English Literature”; seniors studied Butler’s Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed to the Constitution and Course of Nature. Shaw’s English Literature was adopted for use in instruction in the 1860s.
There were weekly exercises in declamation for all classes, with original declamations required from the Sophomores and Juniors. There were also weekly translation exercises (from English to Latin by the freshmen and from Latin to English by the sophomores). All classes had regular exercises in English composition. There were occasional “lectures on literature,” as well as weekly meetings of the Literary Society devoted to discussion, declamation and essays. Both the Philomathean and Irving Literary Societies existed at this time. Later in the decade, another literary society, “The Optic,” was added. According to Agnes Lynch Starrett, “Except with the three literary societies, which flourished under faculty supervision, little attention was paid to the study of English literature and composition.”
Samuel Findley served as the Professor of Rhetoric from 1861 until 1865. In 1866, Edward P. Crane was appointed as the Provisional Professor of Latin Language and Literature. He would later be titled the Professor of Latin and Rhetoric.
According to the University Catalog, candidates for admission into the Freshman Class were required to be well versed in Geography, Arithmetic, two sections of Robinson’s Algebra, seven of Cicero’s Select Orations, the Bucolics, Georgics, and the first six books of the Aeneid, Sallust, Greek Reader, three books of Xenophon’s Anabasis; together with Latin and Greek Grammar and Prosody, and the first twelve chapters of Arnold’s Latin Prose Composition.