North American Scholar

WHITESIDE, Mabel Kate

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1879-02-03
  • Born City: Bell Buckle
  • Born State/Country: TN
  • Parents: Samuel R. & Kate Tune W.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1960-03-01
  • Death City: Lynchburg
  • Death State/Country: VA
  • Education:

    A.B. U. Chjcago, 1902; A.M., 1915; Ph.D., 1932.

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. to prof. Lat. & Gk. Randolph-Macon Woman's Coll., 1904-34; counselor of Women, 1925-32; prof. Gk. & head dept., 1932-54.

  • Dissertation:

    "The Tendency to Word Repetition in Greek Drama" (Chicago, 1932).

  • Notes:

    Miss Whiteside was a remarkable teacher of ancient Greek. The giving of plays of the Athenian dramatists in the original language, for which she became famous, began casually enough, reportedly as a request from advanced students, in 1909. It soon became not just a yearly event but an integral part of the Greek program at Randolph-Macon Woman's College. Although a traditionalist in the teaching of Greek, "Miss Mabel," as she was affectionately known, came to concentrate in her heavily enrolled Greek classes on the pronunciation and sound of the ancient tongue. Her use of the texts of the ancient dramatists in this quite direct way, though she herself would not have claimed it, makes her very much a pioneer in the oral-aural approach to the teaching of any language, let alone classical Greek. What started as class exercises grew in refinement, including music and dance, and audiences from all over the country would assemble in "The Dell" for the annual spring rite. Students, in fact, were known to come to Randolph-Macon just to be a part of the "Greek Play." The production of some 41 Greek plays (including those of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and even Menander) over the period from 1909 to 1954 must be without parallel in the modern world. (One may wonder how many parallels there were even in the ancient world!) In the final year before her retirement she turned the entire campus on its ear for a production of the complete Oresteia. The cast was assembled in the summer of the following year for an abbreviated filming (pre-videotape) in three half-hour segments with television in mind.

  • Sources:

    AmWom 974; Roberta D. Cornelius, "Grecian from Bell Buckle," CJ 56 (1960-1) 143; Time (28 June 1954) 72.

  • Author: Robert B. Lloyd