Matthews, Brander (1852-1929) by Black, Richard

Brander Matthews was a prolific and popular critic, teacher, scholar, and writer whose essays and short stories appeared regularly in . Born into a wealthy family in New Orleans, where his father worked as a trader and speculator, James attended a private boys’ school in New York and then a New York military academy, both of which groomed him for the eventual life his father desired for James as a (). In 1868 he enrolled in Columbia College where he was later to serve as Professor of Dramatic Literature from 1892 to 1924 and, in 1910, was elected President of the Modern Language Association. James Brander Matthews Scribner’s Magazine professional millionaire Oliver 2 Although drama, and especially French drama, was Matthews’ authoritative field, he also published on British and American authors. His 1896 book, , was one of the first textbooks devoted to the burgeoning study of American literature. He was a staunch advocate of the realist movement and championed the work of , , , and especially , whom he closely imitated in his own forays into fiction. An Introduction to the Study of American Literature Henry James Emile Zola Henrik Ibsen Mark Twain William Dean Howells Matthews was a close friend of and literary mentor to , and actively attempted to inscribe his friend in the literary canon by arguing that Roosevelt’s literary career overshadowed ’s and that his was the equal to ’s in attaining the “serener heights of pure literature” (Oliver 167). Matthews embraced ’s and ideology, which often included pseudo-scientific race theory postulating Anglo-Saxon supremacy. Despite these ideological leanings, Matthews maintained a close personal and professional relationship with the African-American writer , author of the influential 1912 novel And, unlike many of his contemporaries, Matthews was also a strong advocate of women writers whom he celebrated in the essay (1892). He argued that the achievements of nineteenth-century women novelists like , , , and merited critical equation with their male counterparts, and also called for a critical rediscovery of lesser known writers like and . Such seemingly contradictory qualities and attitudes prompt to argue that Matthews reflects the between common to his generation and identified in ’s book, (Oliver xvi). Oliver says this dialectic plays out in Matthews’ (Oliver xvii). Theodore Roosevelt Benjamin Franklin Great Adventure Lincoln Gettysburg Address Roosevelt western muscular James Weldon Johnson The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man. Of Women’s Novels Jane Austen Charlotte Bronte George Eliot Harriet Beecher Stowe Margaret Deland Catharine Maria Sedgwick Lawrence J. Oliver profound internal dialectic tradition and innovation, organization and individualism, order and liberation Peter Conn The Divided Mind writings on realism, cosmopolitanism, imperialism, the the and many other literary, political, and social issues Negro Problem, Woman Question, These concerns are evident in Matthews’ published pieces in , which include: (June 1914), (June 1915), and (January 1917). Scribner’s Magazine Concerning Conversation The Rise and Fall of Negro-Minstrelsy Irish Plays and Irish Playwrights —Richard Black Selected Works by Brander Matthews . New York: American Book Company, 1896. An Introduction to the Study of American Literature 55.6 (June 1914): 719-723. Concerning Conversation. Scribner’s Magazine 61.1 (January 1917): 85-90. Irish Plays and Irish Playwrights. Scribner’s Magazine . New York: Harper and Brothers, 1892. 169-77. Of Women’s Novels. Americanisms and Briticisms with Other Essays on Other Isms 57.6 (June 1915): 754- 759. The Rise and Fall of Negro-Minstrelsy. Scribner’s Magazine Further Reading . Knoxville: UP of Tennessee, 1992. Oliver, Lawrence J. Brander Matthews, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Politics of American Literature, 1880-1920 . . Spring 2002. Stein, Howard. Brander Matthews and Theater Studies at Columbia Columbia Alumni Magazine

Back to top

Back to Top