North American Scholar

HAIGHT, Elizabeth Hazelton

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1872-02-11
  • Born City: Auburn
  • Born State/Country: NY
  • Parents: John W. & Helen Meeker H.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1964-11-15
  • Death City: Beacon
  • Death State/Country: NY
  • Education:

    A.B. Vassar, 1894; A.M., 1899; Ph.D. Cornell, 1909.

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. Rye Seminary, 1894-95; Emma Willard Sch. (Troy, NY), 1895-1900; Packer Collegiate Inst., 1901; asso. prof, to prof. Lat., Vassar, 1902-42, chair class, dept., 1923-42; curator, Vassar Class. Mus.; chair advis. counc. ASCSR, 1927; pres. APA, 1933-4.

  • Dissertation:

    “The Sea in Greek Poetry” (Cornell, 1909).

  • Publications:

    Vassar, with James M. Taylor (New York, 1915); The Autobiography and Letters of Matthew Vassar (New York, 1916); “An 'Inspired Message' in the Augustan Poets,” AJP 39 (1918) 341-66; Life and Letters of James M. Taylor (New York, 1919); Italy Old and New (New York, 1922); Horace and His Art of Enjoyment (New York, 1925); Apuleius and His Influence (New York, 1927; repr. 1963); Romance in the Latin Elegiac Poets (New York, 1932); Essays on Ancient Fiction (New York, 1936; repr. Freeport, NY, 1966); The Roman Use of Anecdotes in Cicero, Livy and the Satirists (New York, 1940); “Menander at the Sabine Farm, Exemplar vitae,” CP 42 (1947) 147-55; Essays on the Greek Romances (New York, 1943; repr. Port Washington, NY, 1965); More Essays on the Greek Romances (New York, 1945); “The Lyre and the Whetstone: Horatius Redivivus,” CP 41 (1946) 135-42; The Symbolism of the House Door in Classical Poetry (New York, 1950); Aspects of Symbolism in the Latin Anthology and in Classical and Renaissance Art (New York, 1952); Pseudo-Callisthenes, Life of Alexander (New York, 1955).

  • Notes:

    Hazel Haight matriculated at Vassar in 1890. For 74 years she rarely left Poughkeepsie except for a stint of female preparatory school teaching and graduate studies at Cornell University with Charles Bennett. In 1927-8 she camped in the Tunisian and Algerian desert with three American women and 20 Arab men. Haight became a devoted snapshot photographer. Italy Old and New contains over 20 of her photos, and an American volume published in 1941 and dedicated to Greek war relief, This Is Greece, has three. Haight was an engaged feminist teacher. In her course on ancient myth, she emphasized the significance of women, joining every hero to one or more heroines. One young Latinist friend and longtime correspondent was Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950). Haight strenuously objected to impediments to women entering the professions, including their infrequent employment at colleges and universities for males and also females. She was the first woman to chair the Advisory Council of the then American School of Classical Studies at Rome. Haight became the second woman president of the APA. Her third book on a classical subject, Apuleius and His Influence, appeared in the popularizing series “Our Debt to Greece and Rome.” She asserts that Apuleius is “modern” but never defines that slippery term (cf. JHS 48 [1928] 251). Essays in Ancient Fiction presents stimulating ideas on imaginary narratives that are not, in genre, novels or romance. Haight demonstrates “how near to fiction” were the exercises of the rhetorical schools. She later (1943) noted too optimistically and naively “the new feminism” to be found in these Romance texts. She characterizes the novels as examples of “escape literature,” yet also perceives them as a window on social life and psychology in the second and third centuries of the common era. The contradictions of this position do not worry her. Haight's More Essays on Greek Romances collects a heterogeneous mass of fictional prose literature. She goes beyond the established periphery to Philostratus's pseudo-biographical Account of Apollonius of Tyana, acknowledging its virtual absence of women. Rattenbury's cruel review (CR 60 [1946] 33-4) objects to the absence of original contributions and the extended retellings “adorned (I cannot say illuminated) by moral observations.” Haight wrote for students and teachers rather than specialists. Accordingly, reviewers were critical of her books. All acknowledged her “enthusiasm” for ancient romance and other topics—this is their Leitmotif— but found her to have flattered the romancers' literary skills and contemporary appeal. Haight exemplifies a trademark of many classicists: revulsion against modernity. Her genuine feminism where women's careers were concerned was coupled with a literary, cultural, and political conservatism. She wanted equality for educated women in education and the professions but no other significant change.

  • Sources:

    Vassar College Archives and Special Collections; NYTimes (16 Nov. 1964) 31; WhAm 4:393.

  • Author: Donald Lateiner