Sherman, Stuart Pratt (1881-1926) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Sherman, Stuart Pratt (1881-1926)


Historical Note:

Stuart Pratt Sherman (1881-1926) was associate professor of English (1907-11); professor of English (1911-24); and chair of the English Department (acting, 1910; 1914-24) at the University of Illinois (UI). He was an educator and one of the leading literary critics of his era.

Sherman was born in Anita, Iowa, on October 1, 1881, to parents Ada Pratt and John Sherman. He spent his childhood in Iowa, California, and Vermont. He graduated from Williams College in 1903 before earning a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1906 with a dissertation on English playwright and poet John Ford (1586-ca. 1639). Sherman served as instructor of English at Northwestern University (1906-07) before he accepted a position at UI in 1907. He was known for his scholarship on Matthew Arnold (1822-1888). As a critic, he was a proponent of what he perceived to be traditional American literature, aligning him with the antimodernist, Nativist literary movement and the new humanism of his Harvard mentor Irving Babbitt (1965-1933) and critic Paul Elmer More (1864-1937). His intellectual position famously put him at odds with his contemporary, H. L. Mencken (1880-1956). Sherman's published works included Matthew Arnold: How to Know Him (1917), On Contemporary Literature (1917), Cambridge History of American Literature (co-editor, 1918) and The Genius of America (1923). He also served as contributor to The Nation. In 1924, he left UI to become editor of Books, a supplement of the New York Herald Tribune, which he helped make a leading journal of literary criticism. One of his final major publications, Critical Woodcuts (1926), is widely viewed as reflecting a later shift in Sherman's critical approach and a softening toward modernist approaches and different literary perspectives.

Sherman married Ruth Bartlet Mears in 1906, and they had one son. He died on August 21, 1926, as a result of a canoe accident on Lake Michigan.

Sources:

Wikipedia, s.v. "Stuart Sherman," accessed May 20, 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuart_Sherman.

George E. DeMille, "Stuart P. Sherman: The Illinois Arnold," The Sewanee Review 35, no. 1 (January 1927): 78â??93, accessed online May 20, 2020, https://www.jstor.org/stable/27534099?seq=1.

"Stuart Sherman Papers," University Archives, UIUC, accessed May 20, 2020, https://archon.library.illinois.edu/?p=collections/controlcard&id=2423.

MaryJean Gross and Dalton Gross, "Sherman, Stuart Pratt," American National Biography, accessed January 21, 2021, https://www.anb.org/view/10.1093/anb/9780198606697.001.0001/anb-9780198606697-e-1601497.




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