1950s Faculty

Putnam Fennell Jones

Putnam Fennell Jones: Jones continued to serve as Chair of the departmental committee until 1954, when he became Association Dean of the College (and later Acting Dean and then Dean of the Graduate School). In 1954-55, he headed a college-wide self-study which led to a $175,000 grant from the A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust to create a new core curriculum. Jones’ scholarship spanned subjects as diverse as Beowulf, Milton, and “The Gregorian Mission and English Education.” He wrote several reviews for Modern Language Notes and The American Journal of Philology.  He edited the collection, The Constitution of the United States, 1787-1962: Papers Delivered at a Symposium Commemorating the 175th Anniversary of the United States Constitution and the University of Pittsburgh, which was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 1962. 

W. George CrouchW. George Crouch was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1950. In 1955, when Putnam Jones was made Associate Dean of the College, Crouch became the English department chair. The position is no longer listed as “Chair of the departmental committee,” so the role of the chair is again more conventionally defined. In 1958, Crouch was elected Secretary of the Faculty Senate. In 1951, with Robert Zetler, a long-time Instructor in the English department, he published Advanced Writing. In the 1950s, Crouch regularly taught “Engineering and Managerial Report Writing” and a variety of courses in English literature, including “The English Novel” and “The Romantics.”

Walter Lawrence Myers: Professor. Myers retired in 1956. Myers was the author of The Later Realism: A Study of Character in the British Novel (Chicago, 1927) and of several essays and reviews published in the Virginia Quarterly. Myers taught an upper level course in “The History of Criticism,” but he is seldom listed in the course catalog, which suggests that he taught primarily in the lower division. 

Harold William Schoenberger: Professor. Schoenberger retired in June 1959 and died a few months later. With his colleague, Ralph Ware, Schoenberger edited the volume, The Sentinels & Other Plays, Volume 13 in the series, America’s Lost Plays (Princeton, 1941). As a teacher in the 1950s, Shoenberger covered the range of survey and genre courses in American literature.

Frederick Philip Mayer: Professor. Mayer began to teach a new course in the 1950s, “The Literature of the Bible,” a study of the “literary qualities of the Old and New Testaments,” but also of the influence of the Bible on the “substance and style of later English literature.” He also taught courses on 18th century British literature and modern British and American fiction. 

Mayer was part of a project funded by the Ford Foundation (led by Putnam Jones) to test the effectiveness of filmed lectures. The goal was greater efficiency—a professor, it was hoped, could reach more classes with less effort through the new media.   Mayer’s lectures (for a sophomore level Introduction to Literature) were among the first to be filmed.  Students met to view the lectures and the viewing was followed by a discussion led by Instructors or Graduate Assistants. Four “control sections” were compared with four “experimental” sections. The committee and the instructors all agreed that Mayer’s lectures were of the “highest excellence”—although perhaps a little over the heads of the sophomores. The students reported “a strong preference for having the lecturer present in the flesh and available for questions.” The report to the Dean concluded that, in the final analysis, neither the teachers nor the students felt the experiment to be a success. 

Ford Elmore Curtis. Curtis was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1949-50. He continued to teach introductory courses on English and American drama and advanced courses on British drama from the 16th and 17th centuries.  

Ralph Hartman Ware: Ware was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1948.  He retired in 1960. With his colleague, Harold Schoenberger, Ware edited the volume, The Sentinels & Other Plays, Volume 13 in the series, America’s Lost Plays (Princeton, 1941). As a teacher in the 1950s, Ware covered the range of survey and genre courses in American literature.

Lawrence Lee was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1954. In 1952, he published his dramatic poem, Prometheus in Pittsburgh, with Boxwood Press, a local small press edited by Ralph Buchsbaum, Professor of Zoology at the university. In 1954, Pitt students participated in a WQED television production of Prometheus.

To provide a hint of the sense and sound of Prometheus in Pittsburgh, here is the opening speech. It is accompanied by a musical score prepared by Colin Sterne, Professor of Music at Pitt and founder of what is now the Renaissance and Baroque Society. The scene is Mt. Washington with a view down to the steel mills. Prometheus is speaking.

Man, man, man, man, man… 
What god would willingly bear the fate of man
Whose body strains to carry the weight of life,
Of whose heart wish and frustration are the pulse,
Within whose mind the Furies sometimes rage?
Yet of desperation a honey is distilled;
And I, Prometheus, brother to man,
Have come in love—to live with him his life,
And wear this flesh, and taste and be made drunk
Upon this drink of living spiked with death.
What goddess’ undying nakedness is so bright
As woman’s that’s yielded with a love that looks
From the exalted soul through eyes that die;
What god so brave as the feeble child that stands
And grasps and, smiling, fronts the harms of time;
What is the laboring of Hercules
Beside the work of man.  Stars, put out your lights;
Not all the patterned splendors of the sky
Burning above great cities and wide hills
So move me as man’s spark lifted in dark.
I have returned, who first gave fire to man,
To learn what good or evil has been done.

There is a chorus; there are furies. There are musical interludes and song and dance. Prometheus comes to see what Man has done with fire and to bring the promise of the atom. In coming to earth, he becomes one more Greek on the streets of the South Side, where he meets Michael and Hal, who work in the mills, and Helena and Mia, their girlfriends. Prometheus falls in love with Mia. The Pittsburgh crowd is suspicious and hostile, convinced Prometheus is a foreign agent or spy here to destroy the city, and he is killed. 

In 1950, Lee gave a “scholar’s day” address, “The Morality of Literature.” Below is its opening paragraph. Lee became a favorite of the Litchfield administration. His poem, “The Cathedral,” can be found on the wall of the Cathedral’s common room (near room 123). In “The Morality of Literature,” you can hear something of what Chancellor Litchfield might have expected from the Humanities division of the College:

Once man stared in wonder at the planeted universe and was mute. He did not have language with which to communicate his wonder. Once he waked in cold caves in which there was little to be eaten, where the fire was low and that small flame threatened by the gusty drafts which made sudden invasion of the most remote recesses of his refuge from the storm dominating the fruitless harsh winter earth beyond his bleak burrow. And, thinking somehow most fearful thoughts and feeling in his being a dumb and terrible misery, he must suffer this fear and this misery but partially companioned. He then had no language with which to discipline the animal panic of his formless thinking into the courageous discoveries of reason.

Lee was active in the newly formed Poetry Reading Group, a program of readings and lectures for faculty and students sponsored by the Humanities Society. He regularly taught a course in Modern European Fiction and he taught a range of courses in writing: “Fiction Writing,” “Special Projects in Writing” (for students working on a novel or a collection of poems or short stories), and “Principles and Practices of Writing.”

Charles H. Peake (PhD, Michigan 1941): In 1956 Charles H. Peake was hired by Chancellor Litchfield and appointed to the position of Assistant Chancellor for Student Affairs. Peake, a scholar of 18th century British literature, held tenure in the English department. Prior to his appointment at the University of Pittsburgh, he had served as an Assistant Dean of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts at the University of Michigan and as Dean of Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois.

Donald W. Lee: Associate Professor. Donald Lee left the university in 1955. Lee regularly taught “European Backgrounds for English Literature.” His name seldom appears anywhere else in the course catalog, which suggests that he was teaching in the lower division.

Max Molyneux: Associate Professor. In 1956, Molyneux left the university to join the English department at Alma College. Molyneux taught the introduction to Renaissance Literature and advanced courses in Shakespeare and Milton.

Edwin L. Peterson was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1950. He continued to be the central figure in the writing program, a program that consistently recruited and produced prize winning student writers. In 1958, Peterson’s students took first, third, fourth, and fifth places in the Atlantic Monthly college writing contest. Peterson’s students had been winning awards for many years, but this series of prizes brought special attention to the University of Pittsburgh’s writing program. In 1959, Doubleday and G. P. Putnam’s Sons established programs to publish the novels of University of Pittsburgh students under Peterson’s guidance. And Peterson continued to sponsor the very successful annual Writers Conference.  

In 1958, Peterson published his most important book, Penn’s Woods West (University of Pittsburgh Press). Penn’s Woods West is beautifully written and beautifully produced, in large format with color photographs by Thomas M. Jarrett. It is a lyrical account of time spent with friends hiking and travelling through rural Western Pennsylvania, visiting its forests, rivers and lakes. The book was dedicated to Chancellor Bowman and very positively reviewed by the press, including The New York Times and the Atlantic Monthly. Gladys Schmitt, who reviewed the book for The American Scholar, said that Peterson’s style had "an ease and sparseness reminiscent of Chinese brush painting, and rises to a lyricism worthy of Whitman and to a quiet, meditative tone as authentic as Thoreau’s." 

In this decade, Peterson also edited Hidden Steams (University of Pittsburgh Press,1952), a collection of essays from the 1949 Writers Conference, including essays by Storm Jameson, Warren Beck, Lawrence Lee, William Hastings and Percival Hunt. Peterson wrote an afterword to Hidden Streams that is itself a striking essay on the teaching of writing.  

Peterson, with several of his colleagues, was active in the Poetry Reading Group, an initiative sponsored by the Humanities Society. He taught his usual courses in the 50s:  Percival Hunt’s old courses, Description and Narrative and Fiction Writing, as well as his signature “conference course,” Advanced Fiction Writing. In the early 1950s, Peterson hosted a television show about writing for WQED. One local reporter described Peterson as a “TV natural,” who “captivated air audiences with his philosophical approach to simple everyday writing situations just as he did his countless students in his famous short-story writing course.” 

You can browse a listing of Peterson’s magazine publications

Agnes Lynch Starrett was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1955. In 1954, she became the editor of the University of Pittsburgh Press, one of the first women to edit a university press, and she continued to edit Pitt, the alumni magazine.

Henry Clayton Fisher was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1952. He died in 1956. Fischer taught “History of Criticism,” “Principles of Criticism,” Shakespeare and a new course, “Forms and Ideas in English and American Literature.”

Robert X. Graham was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1952. He died in 1953. Graham taught courses in journalism. 

Charles Crow was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in 1952 and Professor in 1956.  He taught a range of courses: “Milton,” “17th Century British Literature,” “The Essay,” “American Poetry,” “The Major Critics.” An article in The Alumni News Review, one that sounds like it had been written by a student, describes Crow’s teaching:

Students listen to Dr. Crow in rapt—not just polite—silence. There are few clock-watchers in his room.

However, students don’t just sit and listen to Dr. Crow. They get a chance to speak their piece too. With Dr. Crow stimulating thought and directing lines of reasoning, verbal battles rivaling those in the halls of Congress rage. Unlike Congressmen, though, Dr. Crow’s debaters never call each other derogatory names. Also, his students’ reasoning is usually more sound and less prejudiced than the reasoning of our loquacious legislators.  

Emily Gertrude IrvineEmily Gertrude Irvine was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in 1950 and Professor in 1956. She continued to teach the course in “Literature for Children.” She also teaches “Advanced Expository Writing” and “Writing the Essay.”

Maurice Harry Weil was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in 1953. He died in 1957. He taught classes in 19th century British literature, with a focus on the Romantic poets.


Assistant Professors  

Eleven Assistant Professors where hired in the 1950s. (For the purposes of comparison, three were hired in the 1940s). The high number was partly in response to post-war enrollments but primarily to the moving on of the large group hired by Percival Hunt in the 1920s and 1930s.  

Abe Laufe

Abe Laufe was hired in 1954 as an Assistant Professor and promoted to Associate in 1957. Laufe grew up in Pittsburgh and took all of his degrees at the university (BA 1928, MA 1935, PhD 1952). He worked as a high school teacher in nearby Arnold, Pennsylvania, until he joined the United States Army in 1942. Laufe received a Legion of Merit Award for his contributions to the field of military writing. After returning from the war, Laufe was briefly a freelance writer and editor in New York City. He began his PhD at the University of Pittsburgh in 1947.   

Laufe published widely on the history of musical theater and censorship, including three books: Anatomy of a Hit (1966), Broadway’s Greatest Musicals (1977), and The Wicked Stage: A History of Theater Censorship and Harassment in the United States (1978).  He edited a collection of frontierswoman Emily FitzGerald’s letters, An Army Doctor’s Wife on the Frontier (1962). Four of Laufe’s unpublished, book-length works remain in the University of Pittsburgh archives.   

In addition to being a dynamic teacher and scholar, Laufe was a popular public lecturer and performer. He traveled the country with his “cultural recitals,” humorous presentations on the history of theater. He often sang and played piano at conventions and meetings, earning him the titles of “Pitt’s Victor Borge” and “Pitt’s Piano Playing Professor.” In the early 1960s, Laufe hosted a series of radio shows on songwriting for KDKA. After his retirement in 1972, he remained in Pittsburgh and continued to perform and to offer seminars and workshops on theater and songwriting. In the 1950s, Laufe taught courses in Modern American Drama, and he began to teach more broadly in American literature after Shoenberger's retirement. He also taught “Advanced Expository Writing” and “Writing the Essay.” 

Marjorie Avery Bernhard (BA Michigan, 1921) was one of the few women journalists to report from overseas during World War II. She wrote under her maiden name, Avery; beginning in 1943, she reported from England (“London Diary”), France, Germany and Norway. Avery got her start covering fashion in Paris for the New York Herald Tribune. She left France for the Detroit Free Press, where she served as a columnist and Sunday editor and, in the mid-40s, special war correspondent. After the war, she wrote freelance and published in the New York Times Magazine, Liberty, and The Toronto Star. Avery came to the English department as an Instructor in Journalism in 1947. In 1950 she was promoted to Assistant Professor and in 1956 to Associate. She taught courses in reporting, feature writing, advanced reporting and magazine writing. She was active in the annual Writers Conference.

Dorothy MillerDorothy Miller received all of her degrees from Pitt’s English department (BA 1936, MA 1937, PhD, 1946). She was hired as an Assistant Professor in 1952 to teach courses in English education. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 1956. In the 1950s, she taught “Literature for Children” and “Problems in the Teaching of English.”  

Robert L. Gale: (BA Dartmouth 1942; MA Columbia 1947; PhD Columbia 1952). Gale served as a 2nd Lieutenant in Counter Intelligence during World War II, with action in Great Britain, France, Italy, and North Africa. From 1952 1958, after receiving his degree from Columbia, he taught at the University of Mississippi. He joined the University of Pittsburgh in 1958 as an Assistant Professor. His area of specialty was American literature.

Richard C. SnyderRichard C. Snyder (PhD Pittsburgh, 1955) spent the opening years of the 1950s as an Instructor. In 1957 he was appointed to the rank of Assistant Professor. In 1951, he received a fellowship from the Ford Foundation Fund for the Advancement of Education to spend a year visiting campuses (Chicago, Princeton, Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Wellesley) to study the role of the humanities in general education. He wrote a brief essay on his year as a Ford Fellow for the alumni magazine. In 1954, he introduced a new general education course, “Literature and Human Values.” 

Donald E. SwartsDonald E. Swarts (PhD Pittsburgh, 1953). Swarts spent the opening years of the 1950s as an Instructor. He was appointed to the rank of Assistant Professor in 1956 and eventually taught George Crouch’s course, “Engineering and Managerial Report Writing.” He also served as the director of Student Publications. Swarts was promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor in 1956. In 1960, he joined the department of English at the University of Pittsburgh’s new Johnstown campus, where he went on to serve as Academic Dean. In 1963, Chancellor Litchfield appointed Swarts as the new President of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.   

Donald Tritschler (PhD Northwestern) was hired as an Assistant Professor in 1957. Tritscher, like Gale and Laufe, was a specialist in American literature.

Alan Markman (BA Michigan, 1947; PhD Michigan 1955). Markman was hired as an Assistant Professor in 1957. His area of specialty was Old and Middle English. In the 1950s, he taught courses in early literature but also a course in “The English Language.” In his first semester, Markman worked to organize a Graduate Humanities Club. 

The new Chancellor, Edward H. Litchfield, had announced that he would organize the College into three areas—Humanities, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences, each with its own Dean. And Litchfield began to promote the idea the humanities by promoting cross-disciplinary humanities initiatives. The purpose of the Graduate Humanities Club was to bring together faculty and students across the Humanities departments to present papers and to share research. In the first year, Charles Crow spoke on “The Later Style of Henry James,” Richard Tobias on Matthew Arnold’s notebooks, Donald Tritschler on Faulkner, and faculty from other departments on Donne, Robinson Jeffers, and Yeats. We could find no mention of the club after its first meeting. 

Daniel MarderDaniel Marder was a pilot in WWII and a decorated veteran. After the war, he attended the Iowa Writers Workshop where he received his MFA (1950).   In early 1950s, Marder was a Time-Life correspondent in Madrid, where he also edited the Spanish American Courier, an English language newspaper.   Marder returned to the US and entered the PhD program in our department, where he would receive his PhD in 1963. He was hired as an Assistant Professor in 1957. It is unusual for a graduate student to be hired at this rank. We can only assume that he was hired on the basis of his credentials as a writer.

Richard Tobias (BA Ohio State, 1948; PhD Ohio State, 1957). Tobias, a Victorianist, was one of three in English brought in by Chancellor Litchfield in 1957 in support of the new Humanities Division in the College. The other two were Jean Mele, a journalist, and Herbert Howarth, who came as a Visiting Assistant Professor. Tobias and Mele were hired as Instructors. In 1959 Tobias was promoted to Assistant Professor. In the 1950s, Tobias served as president of the Graduate Humanities Club; Co-Chairman of the humanities section of the Regional Committee on Inter-relationships of Secondary Schools, Colleges, and Professional Schools; and on Victorian Studies bibliography committee. 

Montgomery Culver was one of Edwin Peterson’s students. His short story, “Black Water Blues,” won one of the Atlantic Monthly undergraduate student writing awards and, after publication in the Atlantic, an O. Henry Short Story Award. Culver completed his BA and MA in our department and his PhD at the University of Illinois. Culver joined the faculty as an Instructor in 1953 and was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1958.

Herbert HowarthHerbert Howarth was one of several visitors brought in by Chancellor Litchfield in support of the new Humanities Division in the College. He had a one year appointment. Howarth, who had studied at Oxford, was a poet and a translator of Arabic poetry. He served with the British diplomatic corps in Palestine. For five years, he was the head of Britain’s National Book League. Howarth became a leading figure in the study of modernism and a visiting professor at many American universities. His most important book was Notes on Some Figures Behind T.S. Eliot (1964).    



In 1949, there were 58 faculty members in English outside the tenure track. In 1951, this drops by half to 29 and then, in 1958, to 23. The other notable change is that for the first time the non-tenure-track faculty members are almost all women. 

There was substantial turnover among the NTT faculty, so we will only list those who taught for 5 or more years.  

Marcus T. Allias
Hannah Bechtel
Flora Bramson
Ruth Cramblet
Mary C. Dittman
Arthur H. Fedel 
Dorothea B. Gardner
Ann Shane Jones
Sydney Kneebone
Caroline LaRue
Elizabeth R. McIntosh
Dorothy O’Connor
Mary Cooper Robb
Diantha W. Riddle
Lois C. Schuette (taught courses in business writing)
Helen T. Simons
Clare V. Starrett
Betty Anne Stroup
Mildred Yetter
Robert L. Zetler (taught courses in business and technical writing)