Guide to the Arlin Turner Papers, 1927-1980
The Arlin Turner Papers, 1927-1980, span Turner's entire career as a scholar of American literature, from his undergraduate education at West Texas State University in 1927 to his death in 1980, when he was an instructor at Southwest Texas State University. The Turner Papers are comprised primarily of personal and professional correspondence with scholars and publishers of American literature. The correspondence includes letters, printed matter, reports, and minutes that Turner collected as a member or officer of organizations to which many of these literary scholars belonged. These materials, in addition to the clippings, printed materials and other writings Turner collected, provide insight into the development of the profession of American literary scholarship in the 1920s and 1930s; demonstrate the major concerns, issues, conflicts, and interests of its practitioners over the following four decades; and record research advancements and contributions to scholarship on the literary figures of most interest to Turner. The Turner Papers also document the development of high school, collegiate, and graduate level instruction in American literature through the organizational records and course materials, the latter of which include Turner's personal writings and research notes, subject files he collected, clippings, lecture notes, and other printed materials on various authors or genres of American literature. Finally, this collection provides glimpses into Turner's personal career and scholarly thought through the writings which are included, both those he presented orally as speeches or lectures, or those he published as articles or books. The Turner Papers are organized into five series: Correspondence, Course Materials, Organizations, Printed Material, and Writings and Speeches.
A student of the first generation of American literature scholars in the 1920s, Turner played an important role in the network of scholarly exchange that was vital to the emergence of the discipline in the decades following. Turner kept in contact with numerous colleagues in colleges and universities across the United States and throughout the world, including many former graduate students who later became influential literary scholars and critics themselves. The Correspondence Series, 1930-1980, documents Turner's role in this network of scholarly exchange. The Individuals Subseries, 1930-1980, includes Turner's most voluminous correspondents: American literature specialists and authors Gay Wilson Allen, John Q. Anderson, Louis Budd, Robert Cantwell, James B. Colvert, Eddie Gay Cone, Benjamin Franklin Fisher, Albert Mordell, Norman Holmes Pearson, William Stafford, and Edmund Wilson. The Publications Subseries, 1934-1979, contains portions of Turner's communications with editors, publishers, and presses primarily regarding article reviews or manuscript evaluations of others' work. This subseries also contains some information concerning Turner's own articles, manuscripts, and various published works. Correspondence, brochures, press releases, reports, and contractual information concerning Turner's speaking engagements or attendance at professional meetings is collected in the Conferences, Speeches, and Lectures Subseries, 1961-1978 (bulk 1961-1964). Miscellaneous materials comprised primarily of letters arranged by subject are assembled in the Other Correspondence Subseries, 1948-1979 and undated This subseries also contains research notes, memos, and printed material. These papers document Turner's visiting professor appointments and awards, as well as his interest in topics such as the Duke University Library, the Huntington Library, George W. Cable primary sources, and international scholars of American Literature.
The Course Materials Series, undated, is comprised of information Turner collected to aid in composing classroom lectures, and other teaching materials. He maintained an extensive set of files on American authors, which can be found in the Lecture Notes, By Author Subseries, undated Most files contain a brief biography of the author and list of his major compositions, but may also include copies of their works, a typescript of Turner's lecture on the author, and related materials such as clippings or Turner's handwritten research notes. Turner also collected files on genres of literature, delineated both by region, such as Louisiana or British literature, or by style, such as Short Stories or Recent Fiction. These can be found in the Lecture Notes, By Subject Subseries, undated The Class Files Subseries, undated, contains Turner's teaching materials including syllabi, quizes, and exams. These files pertain to courses Turner taught (or in a few early instances, took) in subjects including American Literature before the Civil War, Post-Civil War Literature, Hawthorne and Melville, American Humor, and Southern Literature. Specific course numbers and titles have been provided wherever possible.
Arlin Turner was an active leader and participant in many of the organizations associated with his profession and interests, which are chronicled in the Organizations Series, 1929-1979 (bulk 1936-1979). These scholarly groups developed policies, conducted studies, and otherwise governed the profession. Thus, Turner's influential positions in most of these associations render his thorough collection of organizational records both valuable and useful. Folders in this series primarily contain correspondence, minutes, memoranda, reports, and printed matter such as newsletters, brochures, and clippings. Most notable is Turner's work with the Modern Language Association (MLA), whose American Literature Section members are primarily responsible for the spread of American Studies programs across the globe. Turner's records also document his work with the South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA), the American Studies Association (ASA), and the Southeastern American Studies Association (SEASA). This series likewise chronicles Turner's leadership roles in the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
Turner was also a member of the Committee for American Studies, the advisory group for the Conference Board of Associated Research Councils' (CBC) Committee for International Exchange of Persons (CIEP). The Organizations Series also includes files on the selection of Fulbright Scholars that he collected as a member of that committee. In addition, Turner served as chairman of this committee during the period in which the “Loewenberg controversy” consumed the CIEP's affairs. When Prof. Bert J. Loewenberg was denied a Fulbright Award in 1959 despite the committee's recommendation, its members threatened to resign in protest against allegations that Loewenberg's past political activity was to blame. Thus, significant amounts of correspondence from fellow committee members Ray Billington, John Hope Franklin, Harvey Wish, and Charles Barker regarding the controversy is found in this series.
Arlin Turner accumulated a significant number of clippings, newsletters, pamphlets, reprints, and publications related to American Literature. These are collected in the Printed Material Series, undated Included in this series are materials from the Educational Testing Service (ETS), memorabilia from Turner's time at the University of Hull in England, literary magazines, and miscellaneous clippings primarily regarding Southern writers (especially North Carolina authors), William Faulkner, and the New Critics (a.k.a. The Fugitives).
The Writings and Speeches Series, 1938-1980 and undated (bulk 1964-1977), contains copies of Turner's significant oral presentations and other written work, both published and unpublished, in addition to some writings of other authors he accumulated. Files from Turner's speaking engagements include both correspondence and typed copies of his presentations. This series also contains unidentified speech notes and writings, in addition to a bound typescript with handwritten edits of Turner's Nathaniel Hawthorne: A biography. Writings about Turner, including obituaries, tributes, his curriculum vita and the like, are also found in the Writings and Speeches Series.
- Collection Number
- Arlin Turner papers
- Turner, Arlin
- 15.6 Linear Feet, circa 9750 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
However, collection contains sensitive information. Patrons must sign a waiver concerning privacy rights.
In addition, all or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. There may be a 48-hour delay in obtaining these materials.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Arlin Turner Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
The Correspondence Series has been organized into four subseries: Individuals; Publications; Conferences, Speeches, Lectures; and Other Correspondence. Only the first of these retains Turner's arrangement.
The Individuals Subseries is comprised of correspondence between Turner and other scholars in American literature, students and former students, and editors and publishers. Chief topics in the letters include recent research, manuscript evaluations, speaking engagements and conference attendance, personal updates, and occasional recommendations and peer reviews (SENSITIVE). To preserve original order, this subseries has been maintained as a discrete unit--arranged alphabetically by the correspondent's last name in the same way Turner kept the files. Consequently, there may be significant overlap with other correspondence subseries. For example, correspondence with a publisher may be filed by an editor or publisher's last name in this subseries or by the publication title or the press that produced it in the Publications Subseries.
This subseries contains sensitive information (recommendations and peer reviews). Before using these materials, patrons must sign a waiver concerning privacy rights. Contact Research Services staff for assistance.
The Publications Subseries is comprised of Turner's correspondence to publishers, editors, and presses regarding publications. Included are reviews of books for multiple journals, multiple reviews written for single journals, manuscript evaluations for various university presses, and correspondence regarding some of Turner's own publications. Arranged alphabetically by publication title or press name.
Correspondence regarding Turner's speaking engagements and attendance at professional gatherings is collected in the Conferences, Speeches, and Lectures Subseries. This subseries is arranged chronologically.
Miscellaneous files that contain primarily correspondence can be found in the Other Correspondence Subseries. Many of these files relate either to Duke University or to universities at which Turner served as a visiting professor. These are organized by the subject or addressee of the correspondence and arranged alphabetically, with correspondence from international scholars in American literature filed at the end.
The Course Materials Series is divided into three subseries. The first two subseries are comprised of Lecture Notes, arranged by Author and Subject. The last contains Class Files. Only the first of these subseries preserves Turner's original arrangement.
Each folder in the Lecture Notes, By Author Subseries contains the materials on various literary figures that Turner appears to have collected for classroom use. Almost all of these include a brief typed page containing the author's birth and death dates and significant writings. Most are also accompanied by a brief typed biography and summary of the author's contribution to literature. Some folders may also contain copies of an author's works, especially poetry, or newspaper clippings about them, in addition to Turner's personal research. These are arranged alphabetically in the same order that Turner filed them.
The Lecture Notes, By Subject Subseries contain Turner's collected notes or clippings on general subjects in literature, delineated either by geographic region or genre. This subseries also includes files on a few non-American writers (specifically William Shakespeare, John Milton, and Edmund Spenser). The Minor Southern Authors folder, although it contains unfinished notes pages for individual authors, was not originally filed in the Lecture Notes By Author subseries and therefore is filed by subject in this subseries. The miscellaneous materials in Box 13 pertain to the English curriculum at Duke and LSU, especially degree requirements, preliminary exam questions, and stylesheets for term papers and theses at the two universities.
The Class Files Subseries contains Turner's teaching materials for specific classes that he taught, both at Duke and as a visiting professor elsewhere. Also included in this subseries is at least one syllabus on West Texas State letterhead that appears to be from a class in which Turner was enrolled as an undergraduate in 1927. When possible, the course numbers for these classes have been identified; it should be noted that Turner often taught the same course subject under a different number at a different institution. These files primarily contain syllabi, exams, quizes, reading lists, and lecture materials developed for a specific course.
The Organizations Series contains Turner's files on professional and scholarly associations, committees, councils and societies to which he belonged, and, in many cases, led in some capacity. (For a list of Turner's most significant posts, please see the Organizational Service Biography in the Biographical Note above.) Folders in this series primarily contain correspondence, minutes, memoranda, reports, and printed matter such as newsletters, brochures, and clippings. These are arranged alphabetically.
[changed to Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) in 1975.]
The Printed Material Series is comprised of clippings, newsletters, pamphlets, reprints, and publications related to American Literature. This series includes materials from the Educational Testing Service (ETS), memorabilia from Turner's time at the University of Hull in England, literary magazines, and miscellaneous clippings primarily regarding Southern writers (specifically North Carolina authors), William Faulkner, and the New Critics (aka The Fugitives).
The Writings and Speeches Series is comprised primarily of copies of Turner's speeches, articles, and abstracts, as well as correspondence and contractual information regarding them. This series also includes a complete typed manuscript of Turner's Hawthorne biography with handwritten edits. The Writings and Speeches Series also contains two folders of writings about Turner: one folder of materials which Turner himself authored or compiled, including several versions of his curriculum vita and a brief autobiography with transcripts attached, and one folder of materials written by others, including tributes and obituaries. Turner's writings are arranged chronologically at the front of the box, followed by writings by others.
Born November 25 in Abilene, Tex.
Received B.A. from West Texas State University
Received M.A. from the University of Texas
Received Ph.D. from the University of Texas
Instructor at the University of Texas
Professor of English at Louisiana State University
Published Hawthorne as Editor
Served in U.S. Naval Reserve
Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship
Visiting Professor, University of Montreal. Visiting Professor, University of Colorado
Awarded Fulbright appointment to University of Western Australia
Professor of English, Duke University
Published George W. Cable: A Biography
Visiting Professor, University of Texas
Visiting Professor, University of Virginia
Chairman, Duke University Department of English
Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship
Published Mark Twain and George W. Cable: The Record of a Literary Friendship
Visiting Professor, University of Illinois
Published Nathaniel Hawthorne: An Introduction and Interpretation
Visiting Professor, University of Iowa
Visiting Professor, New York University
Visiting Professor, University of Bombay
Awarded Fulbright appointment to University of Hull, Hull, England
Visiting Professor, University of Pennsylvania
Huntington Library Research Award
Awarded Senior Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities
Awarded James B. Duke Professorship
Received Doctor of Humane Letters from Berea College, Ky.
Visiting Professor, State University of New York
Appointed Therese Kayser Lindsey Professor of Literature, Southwest Texas State University
Published Nathaniel Hawthorne, a biography.
Died, April 24 in Austin, Tex.
Organizational Service Biography
The following lists selected offices and leadership roles held by Turner in professional organizations as documented in this collection. Turner was active in other professional groups that are not represented in his papers. The dates reflect the years of the highest positions he held and do not represent the total period of his membership or leadership. The organizations are listed alphabetically.
Fellowship Selection Committee, 1961-1963, 1965-1966
American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS)
Regional Associate, 1956-1967
Managing Editor, 1954-1963
Advisory Council, 1955-1957, 1967-1972
Executive Committee, 1958-1959
American Studies Association (ASA)
Vice President, 1969-1970
Member, Committee for American Studies 1956-1960, 1962-1963, 1967-1968
Committee for International Exchange of Persons, (CIEP), Conference Board of Associated Research Councils (CBC)
Chairman, Committee for American Studies, 1957-1960
Modern Language Association (MLA)
Chairman, American Literature Section, 1966-1967
Secretary, American Literature Section, 1949-1967
Director, Commission on Literature, 1964-1966
National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
Member, Advisory Panel on Media Programs, 1976
Chairman, Fellowship Selection Committee, 1968-1972
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA)
Chairman, American Literature Section, 1956-1957
Member, Editorial Board 1956-1979
South Atlantic Quarterly
Southeastern American Studies Association (SEASA)
Vice-President, 1955-1956, 1968-1970
President, 1956-1957, 1970-1972
Henry Arlin Turner, a professor of English and Literature, is best known for his scholarship on Nathaniel Hawthorne and George Washington Cable. His interests also included Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, William Faulkner, Southern Literature, and American Humor writings. Turner authored, edited, or reviewed an extensive list of publications on these subjects, in addition to the monographs listed above.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Anderson, John Q.
- American Studies Association
- American Council of Learned Societies
- Allen, Gay Wilson, 1903-1995
- Budd, Louis J.
- Billington, Ray Allen, 1903-
- Barker, Charles A. (Charles Albro), 1904-
- Cable, George Washington, 1844-1925
- Cone, Eddie Gay, 1938-
- Conference Board of the Associated Research Councils. Committee on International Exchange of Persons. Committee on American Studies
- Cantwell, Robert, 1908-
- Colvert, James Brumley
- Duke University. Department of English -- Curricula
- Duke University. Department of English -- Faculty
- Fisher, Benjamin Franklin
- Franklin, John Hope, 1915-2009
- George Washington Flowers Collection of Southern Americana
- Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery
- Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 1804-1864
- Jay B. Hubbell Center for American Literary Historiography
- Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, La.) -- Faculty
- Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, La.). Dept of English
- Modern Language Association of America. American Literature Section
- Mordell, Albert, 1885-
- National Endowment for the Humanities
- National Council of Teachers of English
- Pearson, Norman Holmes, 1909-1975
- South Atlantic Modern Language Association
- Stafford, William, 1914-
- Southeastern American Studies Association
- Turner, Arlin
- Turner, Arlin
- Wish, Harvey, 1909-
- Wilson, Edmund, 1895-1972
- American wit and humor
- American literature -- North Carolina
- American literature -- Study and teaching
- American literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism
- American literature -- Louisiana
- Authors, American
- American literature -- 19th century -- History and criticism
- American literature -- Southern States
- College teachers -- Correspondence
- Fulbright scholarships
The Arlin Turner Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as gifts in 1980, 1986, 1987, and 1996. Portions of this collection were transferred from Duke University Archives in 2002.
Processed by Cat Saleeby
Finding aid edited by Ruth E. Bryan
Completed August 2002
Encoded by Cat Saleeby