Search within:

War Drums

From The Department of Modern Languages: A Bicentennial History 1804-2004

The period 1914-1920 brings many changes to the foreign language departments, although World War I does not immediately affect the faculty until the USA joins the hostilities. The 1914-15 catalogue shows that Italian is no longer offered, and German is now called German Language and Literature. It is not clear whether such name changes, which occur regularly over the years in the Romance Language department as well, are of any real significance. 6

In a more far-reaching structural change, "all educational effort at the university is included in the work of the College of Liberal Arts and the State Normal College" (OU Bulletin, 1914-15, p. 15), that is, we are seeing the embryonic versions of the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education. Mary Noss is on leave in 1916-17 and is replaced by Lucy Gregory, A.B., Professor of Romance Languages. She teaches French, although apparently not too successfully. In the President's Annual report for 1917-18 he notes: "Last year we were unfortunate in the selection of a substitute to teach the French class of Miss Noss"(p. 12). Under "Spanish" the catalogue states: "A professor for this department will be appointed and the number of courses augmented" (p. 82). Indeed, by 1917-18 Professor Frank V. Whitehouse, A.M., has been appointed to teach Spanish, Professor Noss is back in French, assisted by Maude Ethel Cryder, A.B., who is also instructing German in place of Doernenburg. The German instructor Allan Carter is on indefinite leave of absence.

By 1918-19 the war has had a significant impact on the language faculty and programs at Ohio University. Under "French Language" Mary Noss is joined by Chilton R. Stearns, A.M., Assistant Professor of French and Spanish, while W.S. Barney, Ph.D., Professor of French and Spanish, is teaching in "Spanish Language and Literature," having replaced Whitehouse, who is on war leave. Several names on the general faculty list have this designation. In the 1915 Bulletin (p. 94) we read that the pro-ally feeling affecting German enrollments in Eastern and Northeastern colleges do not prevail at Ohio University, where "never before have the German classes been so large. . . ." Unfortunately, Ohio University doesn't long remain immune to the anti-German hysteria of the time. By 1918 both the German faculty and the curriculum have disappeared and remain absent until 1921. 7

6 Annual Report, 1916-17, p. 8: "The work of the Department of Romance Languages has been divided. Formerly, all instruction was given by Prof. Noss with occasional help from some other member of the Faculty. Hereafter, Prof. Noss will give instruction to the classes in French and Prof. Frank V. Whitehouse, A.M., a new employee and recently a graduate student at Columbia University, will have charge of the classes in Spanish."

7 A relatively mild attack on the evils of recent aspects of German civilization is found in the annual sermon by Bishop Earl Cranston, D.D., Class of 1861 (Bulletin, 1917, pp. 70-80). In decrying German rationalism and the usurpation of God for state purposes ("God and Kaiser"), the bishop claims that the ideals of the German Christian church "have been lost in the tide of a militarized and commercialized nationalism to the will of an ambitious autocrat." (75) He laments further: ". . . little did we imagine in the days of our thralldom to German degrees, that deified culture could be a thing so deadly, that its high priests could in times of world peace deliberately formulate a ritual of war that for hatred, cruelty, robbery, murder of innocents, violation of womanhood, wanton desecration of altars, and the enslavement  of civilian captives, would leave to mankind no marks of atrocious degeneracy by which hereafter to distinguish the barbarian, or prevent the pirate of the high seas from being rated as a model of highly cultured courtesy." (77) To preserve the reverence of American scholarship he concludes that "... the day of leadership has come for distinctly American universities. Gentlemen of the Faculty, the highest places in American colleges should no longer fall—that word is well chosen-to the candidate bearing a German diploma...." (79) A second example is found in the Annual Report for 1917-18, where the president mentions the declining enrollments caused by the war, but asks the question: "Who is there who would have it otherwise? College training based upon Prussian ideals and dominated by German 'Kultur' would be a poor exchange for conditions which the war has brought, and will bring, into college halls"(23).