North American Scholar

SHOWERMAN, Grant

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1870-01-09
  • Born City: Brookfield
  • Born State/Country: WI
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1935-11-13
  • Death City: Madison
  • Death State/Country: WI
  • Married: Zilpha Marie Vernon, 10 Aug. 1899.
  • Education:

    A.B. U. Wisconsin, 1896; A.M., 1897; fell. Lat., 1896-8; Ph.D., 1900; fell. AIA at ASCSR, 1898-1900; Ph.D. (hon.) U. Padua, 1922.

  • Professional Experience:

    Prof, class. U. Wisconsin, 1900-35; instr. ad interim, Princeton, 1904-5; ann. prof. AAR, 1922-3; dir. summ. sess., 1922-32;

  • Dissertation:

    "The Great Mother of the Gods," (Wisconsin, 1901); printed Wisconsin Univ. Bull. no. 43, Philology & Literature ser. 1, no. 3 (1901) 221-333.

  • Publications:

    "Odes of Horace, Book I, 22," Aegis 9 (18 May 1895) 221; "Odes of Horace, Book II, 14," Aegis 9 (7 June 1895) 231; "Was Attis at Rome under the Republic?," TAPA 31 (1900) 47-59; "The American College Course," ER 26 (June-Dec. 1903) 166-79; "Cicero's Appreciation of Greek Art," AJP 25 (1904) 306-14; "Canna Intrat and the Cannophori," CJ 2 (1906-7) 28-31; "The Ancient Religions in Universal History," AJP 29 (1908) 156-71; "On the Teaching'of Cicero," CJ 3 (1907-8) 261-70; "Ideal Utilitarianism," Western Intercollegiate Magazine 1 (Feb. 1910) 5-12; With the Professor (New York, 1910); "The American Idea," Sch. Rev. 19 (1911) 145-61, repr. in book form (Chicago, 1911); Franz Cumont, The Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism (trans.) (Chicago, 1911); Peace and the Professor (New York, 1911); "Horace the Duality," C7 6 (1910-1) 244-51; "Horace the Philosopher," CJ 6 (1910-1) 275-89; "Monumentum Aere Perennius," C7 (1911-2) 21-31; "Life and Letters," EducRev 45 (Jan.-May 1913) 109-21; Ovid: Heroides and Amores (trans.) LCL (New York & London, 1914; 2d ed. rev. G. P. Goold, 1977); "A Critic of Democracy," Dial 57 (July-Dec. 1914) 389-90; "The Liberal Arts and Scientific Management," Popular Science Monthly 86 (Jan.-June 1915) 539-49; "The Great Vocation," Dial 59 (July-Dec. 1915) 253-56; "The New Painting," Dial 59 (July-Dec. 1915) 486-8; The Indian Stream Republic and Luther Parker (Concord, 1915); A Country Chronicle (New York, 1916); A Country Child (New York, 1917); "The Eternal City: Modern Phase," Classical Studies No. 3 in Honor of Charles Forster Smith (Madison, 1919), 116-32; "A Worn-Out Joke," Wise. Alumni Mag. 21 (Jan. 1920) 67-9; "Intellect and the Undergraduate," Sch. <fc Soc. 13 (Jan.-June 1921) 241-52; "Recent Educational Discussion," Bull. AAUP 7 (4 Apr. 1921) 11-21; Horace and His Influence (Boston, 1922); "On Living in Harmony with Nature," Classical Studies No. II University of Wisconsin Dept. of Classics (Madison, 1922); Our Debt to Greece, with R. M. Gummere, J. W. Mack-ail, & H. O. Taylor (Boston, 1922); Eternal Rome, the City and its People from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (New Haven, 1924); Century Readings in Ancient Classical and Modern European Literature, ed. with John William Cunliffe (New York, 1925); "Heckling the College," Sch. & Soc. 24 (July-Dec. 1926) 249-54; "The Struggle for Liberty," U. Cal. Chronicle, (1926) 362-76; "The Liberal College," Sch. & Soc. 25 (Jan.-June 1927) 3-7; "A Most Lamentable Comedy," Sch. & Soc. 33 (Jan.-June 1931) 481-7; Rome and the Romans (New York, 1931); memoir of Adeline Belle Hawes in Citizens of Long Ago: Essays on Life and Letters in the Roman Empire, ed. Adeline Belle Hawes (New York, 1934), v-vii; Monuments and Men of Ancient Rome (New York, 1935); Carlo Alberto Salustri, Roman Satirical Poems and their Translation (trans.) (New York, 1945).

  • Notes:

    Showerman was a humanist, classicist, and teacher who left classical studies a legacy of imaginative writings depicting the character of Rome, the city, the civilization it anchored, and its leaders. As a fellow, annual professor, and director of summer school at the American School of Classical Studies in Rome he developed a personal knowledge of the monuments of the ancient capital and an appreciation of the modern city. This knowledge, his skill as a photographer, and his natural writing style enabled his works to unveil the personalities of Rome within their physical setting in a way that appealed to the specialist and the general reader alike. One review characterized his last work, Monuments and Men of Ancient Rome, as the type of book that would benefit the high-school teacher and still serve as an excellent guide book. He recognized the changing techniques of excavation and the advances of American scholars in Italian archaeology. And he was one of the first to acknowledge the archaeological achievements of the fascist regime in Italy. He was an authority on ancient religions: he translated Cumont's famous work, and his The Great Mother of the Gods was a standard monograph on ancient religion.For Showerman the professor's duty was to impress his students with the ideal, to translate the great examples of art and literature directly into lifeā€”into character and conduct. For this reason he believed that the classics must continue to be taught. In his mind serious moral character was activated by wide and exact knowledge and this prompted him to broaden his courses with lectures on art, modern literature, archaeology, anthropology, and history. Like a modern-day Cicero, Showerman published his theories of education. He acknowledged the benefits of American public education, its dissemination of educational opportunity and elevation of the popular level of intelligence. But he feared that the tendency toward popular control of educational policy would deemphasize the humanities as not vital to the demands for vocational training. He saw this as the sacrifice of the individual for the benefit of the state. Yet he was too astute to think that the trend could be changed: the College of Agriculture was an essential part of the University of Wisconsin, and the cow was a reality on the university campus. So he argued for what he called "ideal utilitarianism." "Admiration for the professor whose life is ordered by an inner vision of the perfect animal is no less than the sympathy for the professor whose hopes are built on the production of the perfect poem. Idealism is aspiration after something which the imagination vividly represents as the perfect product." On the other hand, he attacked those educators who touted the humanities with trendy programs.He was a prolific author. Two novels, A Country Chronicle and A Country Child, depict his early years, as well as the gentler phases of 19th-century rural life. And the good-humored satire of With The Professor captures the comedy of the dry-as-dust literary specialist, absorbed by word counts but disdainful of his need for a new overcoat

  • Sources:

    W. R. Agard, DAB Suppl. 1:657-8; AJA 40 (1936) 131-2; CJ 31 (1935-6) 271, 532-3; Merle Curti & Vernon Carstensen, The University of Wisconsin (Madison, 1949); NatCAB 27:318; W. A. Old-father, American Scholar 5 (1936) 367-72; WhAm 1:1122; "Wisconsin Writers," Wis. Jour. Ed. 58 (Jan. 1926) 176-80.

  • Author: Ronald J. Weber