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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXV. Scholars

§ 15. The Modern Language Association of America

The impulse after 1850 toward the study of the modern languages and literatures was due rather to the immigration which had been set up by the European troubles of 1848, and which brought many cultivated Germans and Frenchmen to the United States. Hindered by our own political disturbances during the fifties and sixties, and helped by the “scientific” and utilitarian opposition to the classics, it reached self-consciousness and scholarship in the seventies, with the foundation of the Johns Hopkins University (1876), which proposed a scientific philology, impartial whether ancient or modern. Professor Gildersleeve having founded the American Journal of Philology in 1880, his colleague A. Marshall Elliott (1844–1910) soon interested a sufficient number of advanced teachers of the modern languages to found in 1883 the Modern Language Association of America, of which he was the first secretary, and of whose Publications, also suggested by him, he was the first editor (1884–92). For twenty-five years, also, until his death, he edited Modern Language Notes, now continued by his former colleague, James Wilson Bright. The progress of “modern philology” in America thus belongs to the university era, and is detached from Ticknor.