conventional forms and categorical disciplines, so much the worse for the forms and disciplines. He would follow themes. His range was unfenced. HE HAS ALWAYS INSISTED that “the University of Texas should be of Texas as well as in Texas; that it should express the genius of the land, reflect its traditions and interpret its life,” even in its physical setting. That is the reason he has found much that displeased him on the campus. The landscapists seemed determined to get rid of all native plants along with the natural contour of the land. “They planted undeviating lines of prostrate junipers, but thank God, some mesquite trees came up anyway.” They also decorated the entrance to the mall with a Coppini fountain, “a conglomerate of a woman standing up, with arms and hands that look like stalks of Spanish dagger; of horses with wings on their feet, aimlessly ridden by some sad figures of the male sex, and various other inane paraphernalia. What it symbolizes probably neither God nor Coppini knows.” On the other hand, the Proctor mustangs descending the hill in front of the museum delight the soul. They belong. The cattle brands that decorate Garrison Hall also belong, but not the signs of Zodiac on the old library building. No structure on the campus reflected the genius of the land better than the Home Economics building. Its architecture “suits the purposes of the building, the climate of Austin, the ground on which it is erected, and the traditions of the state.” The Tower, on the other hand, “would fit any university `of the first class’ anywhere in America, that aspired to be a huge and huger factory for turning out degrees.” He suggested that the tower be laid on its side. His suggestion was not acted upon, and he refused to move in along with the rest of the English department. Old B Hall remained his headquarters as long as he was on the staff. A University of Texas and not merely in Texas would show proper respect for Texas books. It would not only acquire them, it would house them appropriately. In 1938 Dobie protested that the Texas Collection was housed and administered as an appendage to the Latin American Collection. He thought that the university should care “at least as much” for the Texas Collection “as it cares for the books of the Queen Anne reign . . . or the books on Mexico and South America.” He proposed “a corner furnished in native woods, and decorated with pictures by Russell, Remington, Dunton, and other western artists. A corner eloquent, beautiful, interestinga corner belonging to the land and expressive of ita corner that would through its influence pervade the whole university and the whole state a corner forever Texas.” The Texas Collection is now adequately housed in the old library building, rechristened the Barker History Center. It contains collections of range paintings by Frank Raugh and a Remington sculpture. Dobie’s private collection of some 7,000 volumes is being acquired by the university and is being moved to the Southwestern Rooms of the New Humanities Center. But the Corner Forever Texas has not materialized. He saw and still sees no place in a University of Texas or of anywhere else for professors of Education \(written with bring these “unctuous elaborators of the obvious” into a discussion of any subject is remarkable. His experience as a high school teacher reminds him that he had to take a course in education in order to get a license to teach. All he can recall being taught in the course is that if the room is too hot, raise the windows; if it is too cold, put them down. A UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS and not merely in Texas would in its courses give some attention to books pertaining to the state and region. Dobie’s conviction on this point was no doubt strengthened by the fact that -some time he had had to read from the ‘works of Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards, and in these worthy theologians, he had found little of literary merit and little pertinent to life as he had known it. There were more significant writers of our own region. He proposed to offer a course in the literature of the Southwest. When the proposal was rejected on the grounds that there was no literature of the Southwest, he amended the title to read “Life and Literature of the Southwest.” The course was approved and first offered in the spring of 1930. In regular and summer sessions he gave it seventeen times to a total of 1596 students in classes ranging in enrollment from 54 to 196. He had to have help in reading his papers, and I was his helper in 1930 and I think again in 1932. His students came from all departments, but especially from English, history, and_journalism. He welcomed the journalists, among whom he found some excellent students, but he often scolded them for their fragmentary paragraphs, and he let them know that he thought taking a multiplicity of courses in journalism was a waste of time that could better be spent on more substantial subjects. He was not a generous giver out of A’s and B’s. He read every final examination paper himself. When he had read one, he would ponder a moment and put down a number expressing his judgment on the performance. The gradations were minute. He might put down 76 for one student and 77 for another. The students who took the course were attracted by the subject and the man, one of the few great teachers I have known. I attended many but not all his lectures. He would come into the classroom with a battered briefcase stuffed with books. The class would be reading, let’s say, Andy Adams’ The Log of a Cowboy, and Dobie would be prepared to talk about stampedes. He would give accounts from oral sources, retelling incidents he had heard from George Saunders, Ab Blocker, and Sug . Robertson. He. would read from Trail Drivers of Texas, from James Cook’s Longhorn Cowboy, and so on until all aspects of the subject had been illustrated: why the cat tle stampeded, the way they ran, the way they were controlled, and the qualities and emotions of the men who followed them through thunder, lightning, hail, and rain. He talked and read with unaffected animation, making no effort to conceal his pleasure, which was enhanced by the pleasure obvious in the faces of the students. It used to be said that the students were not taking a course in the Life and Literature of the Southwest : they were taking a course in Frank Dobie. I suppose that any course is in some sense a course in the instructor. Otherwise an impersonal teaching machine had just as well replace him. But this was true of Dobie’s course to a greater extent than of some of the other popular courses. He justified the course partly on the ground that every student was entitled to his own heritage, but how deeply he considered the heritage of a student born and reared in Dallas is open to question. He selected those parts of the Texas and Southwestern heritage that he found most interesting and valuable. He paid little attention to the traditions of the Old South, either tidewater or upland, and popular urban culture bored him. He once said he regretted that automobiles had been invented. Automobiles, however, are a necessity in present-day life. Jukeboxes are wholly withoutjustification. Once on our way to El Paso he, Frank Goodwyn, and I stopped in Sonora to eat. It is goat country, and he had his heart set on a dinner of cabrito. At several restaurants we found no cabrito. Then we drove across the tracks to a Mexican place and gave our order. We were the only Anglos in the place. Before our plates arrived, a customer put a coin in a slot, and out came not “El Toro Moro,” not “El Corrido de Kansas,” not even “Home on the Range,” but some such thing as “Pistol Packing Mama,” or “Mr. Mississippi.” I was glad that Dobie wasn’t armed. In preparation of the course Dobie mimeographed a thematically arranged reading list, for which he was soon receiving so many requests that he published it as’ a thin book titled A Guide to the Life and Literature of the Southwest. He enlarged it from time to time by adding new titles and expanding his comments until it reached two hundred pages in the edition of 1956. The book sold in stores to the public who read, but one reason for the demand was that courses modeled on Dobie’s were being introduced in other institutions. They are now given in practically all the senior colleges in Texas and in the universities of New Mexico and Arizona. I have no _ figures on the enrollment past and present in these courses, but I suspect the number would exceed ten thousand. I further suspect that the interest aroused in these students has had something to do with what Edward Weeks of the Atlantic Monthly has called the Texas Renaissance. When Henry Nash Smith went to Harvard to take a Ph.D. in the newly inaugurated interdisciplinary program in American studies, he reported that the only course faintly resembling the Harvard programs was Dobie’s course initiated many years earlier July 24, 1964 13
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