Brownell, Baker (1887-1965) by Solomon, Susan

Baker Brownell Born in St. Charles, Illinois, the philosopher, scholar, and teacher pursued his undergraduate studies at the University of Washington, Harvard, and then Northwestern. He received an M.A. in philosophy at Harvard and spent 1912 and 1913 studying at Tübingen and Cambridge. His education complete, he returned to the States and worked as a reporter for the , (an experienced referenced in his poem, [ 11.6]) before going on to teach English at Kansas State Normal College and edit the journal from 1914-1917. During this time he also served in the U.S. Army, defending the U.S. border against raids by Pancho Villa and his militia (see his poem ). After America’s entrance into the First World War, he was promoted to second lieutenant, then served as a navy ensign and in the National Guard until 1926. Many of his poems were inspired by his service in the military, which – unusually – was domestic. He was stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas, Camp Doniphan, Ohio, and Fort Myers, Florida Baker Brownell Chicago Tribune The Number Poetry Teaching Southward After the war he worked as Assistant Professor of English at the University of Idaho and as an editorial writer for . He then took a position as lecturer in editorial writing at Northwestern, where he was promoted to Professor of Journalism, Contemporary Thought, and Philosophy. The department of Contemporary Thought, chaired by Brownell from 1927-37, developed out of his course by the same name, which sought to integrate students’ experience of the disciplines and foster a community among the various faculties of the university. Each year, Brownell invited distinguished lecturers (including contributors and ) from various fields inside and outside the academy. For their final projects, his students were encouraged to write their own autobiographies of thought. He later collected the lectures from this course into the twelve-volume (1929). Chicago Daily News Poetry Carl Sandburg Edward Sapir Man and His World Although reviewers of his philosophical work frequently described him as a he never published a volume of poetry and the list of poems published or found in his papers at Northwestern University is relatively short. His verse was first published in , with later pieces appearing infrequently in the and the . philosopher-poet, Poetry Dial New Republic Brownell became particularly committed in his philosophical writings and teaching methods to the preservation of community in a hostile, industrialized, urban world. In (1952) he writes, (43-44). He edited ’s , served as an agricultural advisor to the USDA, co-authored (1937) with (which makes arguments about the architecture of community), and directed the Montana Study–a Rockefeller Foundation supported inquiry (1944-47) into the dwindling populations of small towns in rural Montana. It sought to foster grass-roots self-studies of such communities by assessing social and economic questions as well as the historical and artistic cultures of these villages. After retiring from Northwestern, he founded the Community Development department at Southern Illinois University and wrote the celebratory book (1958). The College and the Community Only in these primary groups or communities […] do men find moral orientation and the habits of social responsibility. Only in them is a large measure of inner control in basic decisions and activities fostered in the pattern of personality Arthur E. Morgan The Small Community Architecture and Modern Life Frank Lloyd Wright The Other Illinois —Susan Solomon Selected Works by Baker Brownell . (Co-authored with .) New York: Harper and Brothers, 1938. Architecture and Modern Life Frank Lloyd Wright . New York, Harper and Brothers, 1939. Art is Action: A Discussion of Nine Arts in a Modern World . 13.5 (February 1919): 255-257. En Masse Poetry (March 1918): 312-319 In Barracks: Departure, The Number, Reveille, On the Road, Southward, Major Fitzpatrick, Freebourne’s Rifle, Private Rauch, The Hurricane, Taps. Poetry . New York: Harper and Bros., 1950. The Human Community: Its Philosophy and Practice for a Time of Crisis . New York, 1929 The New Universe: A Biography of the Worlds in Which We Live Further Reading In . Ed. . Urbana and Chicago: U of Illinois P, 2002. 322-33. Baker Brownell. Rendezvous with Death: American Poems of the Great War Mark W. Van Wienen Northwestern University Archives. Baker Brownell Papers: Biography. www.library.northwestern.edu/archives/findingaids/Brownell_papers.pdf

Back to top

Back to Top