Department of English, 1893-present


The Department of English was established in 1893. In 1894, it was one of the original departments to offer an undergraduate major to students. The Department of English emerged from the Department of Rhetoric, Logic, and English Literature, which was its predecessor. Professor William Shipman was the primary instructor in the Department. Shortly after the establishment of the Department, Professor Maulsby joined Professor Shipman in sharing the departmental teaching duties.

History of Department of English

The Department of English was established in 1893. In 1894, it was one of the original departments to offer an undergraduate major to students. The Department of English emerged from the Department of Rhetoric, Logic, and English Literature, which was its predecessor.

The Catalogue of Tufts College for the 1894-1895 academic year describes the Department as follows, "The course of instruction in English aims at both theoretical knowledge and practical results. It begins with extemporaneous composition in the Freshman year. In this exercise, which is weekly, formal theme-writing is avoided. Topics are assigned, with some variety of method, at the time of writing, usually not the same topic for all, but a list is furnished from which each writer may select, giving preference to what is nearest at hand and best understood. The brief essays are subject to criticism both in class and with the individual writers. With suitable modification, this extemporaneous writing is continued at intervals to the end of the course. The formal study of Rhetoric begins with the second year."

Initially, Professor Shipman was the primary instructor in the Department. Professor William Rollin Shipman was born in Granville, Vermont on May 4, 1836. He graduated from Middlebury College in 1859 and subsequently came to head the Green Mountain Institute at South Woodstock, Vermont which he restored to prosperity during his tenure. Professor Shipman later accepted the chair of the Department of Rhetoric, Logic, and English Literature at Tufts. In addition to his administrative duties, Professor Shipman maintained a substantial teaching schedule in the Department. When the Department of Rhetoric, Logic, and English Literature became the Department of English in 1893, Professor Shipman remained the chair of the newly formed department.

Professor David Lee Maulsby served as the Principal of Goddard Seminary, Barre, Vermont before he accepted the chair of English Literature and Oratory at Tufts in 1891. From 1892 to 1895, Professor Maulsby was also the custodian of the Faculty records, first as Clerk and later as Secretary. In 1895, Professor Maulsby joined Professor Shipman in sharing the primary teaching duties in the Department of English.

Professor Maulsby was instrumental in directing and staging the student production of "Ralph Roister Doister" in June, 1895. The production proved to be a great success and even attracted audiences from outside the Tufts community.

Currently, the Department of English ranks among the many prominent departments at Tufts. It offers a highly regarded Ph.D. program whose graduates routinely accept tenure-track faculty positions at colleges and universities throughout the United States.