"Social scientists must believe that poetry, essays, and drama are as legitimate expressions of the spirit of man as the works of John Stuart Mill, Adam Smith -- or even Karl Marx."
Marjorie Hope Nicolson (1894-1981)
LittD 1963 (hon.)
Marjorie Hope Nicolson pioneered new scholarly approaches to the study of literature and science. Her writings include the prizewinning Newton Demands the Muse (1946), The Breaking of the Circle (1950), Science and Imagination (1956), Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory (1959), and Pepys' Diary and the New Science (1965). As an undergraduate, she was drawn to philosophy but chose literature as more hospitable to women. Earning her PhD at Yale in two years, she did postdoctoral work abroad and at Johns Hopkins, and taught at the University of Minnesota, Goucher College and Smith College, where she also served as dean of the faculty. When she joined the Columbia faculty in 1941, she broke new ground as the first woman to be a full professor at an Ivy League university. In the course of her career, Nicolson produced a substantial body of extraordinary work, mentored several generations of graduate students, and championed the American professor's responsibility to combine scholarship with teaching.