April 22, 1931
My heart is broken.

He [Lloyd Reynolds] had the nerve-he actually had the nerve-to suggest I major in History! He asked me first if I were a history major. I told him no. Then he asked me what was my major-the dumbbell. . . . Maybe I'll have to go to another college where theses are not writ. Not again do I suggest the matter of thesis to Mr. Lloyd Reynolds, and that's flat.

May 13, 1931
Monday was a bad day. I had a conference with Mr. Chittick in his official role as Dean of Women. I took him all my troubles, beginning with the problem of thesis. He told me in very plain language what I have been trying to tell you and Louise [Mitchell], only you wouldn't believe me. I told him I was discouraged about my critical papers, and he said there was certainly a "dearth and deficiency" in the ones I had tried to write. Those were his words, and I hope you are convinced at last. Louise was still trying to argue the point. He admitted that he thought it would be a struggle for me to try and write a critical thesis. He said he had told Mr. Reynolds that I was what he called a "poor reader," and that Mr. R. said that I was one of the best readers he had-which meant, he (Mr. C) added, that they were talking about two different things. Mr. Chittick meant that I read things and didn't have anything to say about them. Mr. Reynolds meant that I got more out of what I read-got more shades of meaning out of a poem, for instance.

In brief, Mr. Chittick thought it would be hard for me to write a critical thesis, but very risky to write a creative one. He said all the creative theses so far had been "flat tires."

October 1, 1931
I left this letter till today to write because I thought I could tell you the decision about my thesis. No such luck. I don't think they will ever give me permission to write it. I'll have to go ahead and do it, and then next spring when I hand it in they'll say, "Here, who told you you could do a thing like this?" And I'll say, "Nobody, sir."

Next Page
Next Page