The making of Gertrude Stein: Reading, writing, and Radcliffe
This dissertation proposes three interwoven arguments concerning Gertrude Stein’s undergraduate education at Radcliffe College in the late 19th century. First, that Stein’s Sophomore writing course in 1894-1895 – English 22, Daily Themes – played a larger role in the course of her writing life than has been understood in the fields of Modernism and American literature. Second, that the first women of Radcliffe College, and before Radcliffe’s founding, of the Harvard Annex, were more integral to late 19th century growth in English and Composition at Harvard College than has been understood in the fields of Rhetoric and Composition. Finally, that we cannot understand the expansion of Harvard College to Harvard University, the implementation of the elective system, or the founding of Radcliffe without integrating the various roles of Special Students – of which Gertrude Stein was one – in the broadening mission of the Cambridge institution.
Following these threads, and focusing on Stein as an emblematic – though idiosyncratic – student, I provide a history of Harvard-Radcliffe during the 1870s-1890s, a period of unprecedented change, the decades before and during Stein’s attendance from 1893-1898. I examine the role of female students in the origins of English Composition, a history which has previously focused heavily on male education as it emanated from Harvard and reverberated throughout higher education into the 20th century. I focus on Stein as a student of the pedagogy of Daily Themes practiced by Barrett Wendell. In providing these institutional, historical, and pedagogical contexts, I aim to connect Stein, the student writer, to the adult innovator, to form a trajectory from her English 22 course into her adult writing life. My goal is for us to understand “The Making of Gertrude Stein” as a consequence, in part, of her reading and writing at Radcliffe. This is an educational history of one of America’s great modernist writers embedded in the institutional history of her alma mater.
In order to help further research on Gertrude Stein’s undergraduate writing, my dissertation includes in its appendices the digitized images of Stein’s Daily Themes for English 22 at Radcliffe and my annotated transcription of the Themes including professorial comments.
0453: Womens studies
0520: Education history
0591: American literature