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COLLECTION Identifier: HUGFP 116

Papers of Laurence Wylie, ca. 1955-1986

Overview

Laurence Wylie was an anthropologist who specialized in the study of French culture and civilization. These papers relate to his research, teaching, and writing. The papers reflect Wylie's noted traits, his wit, his sly intuition, his spontaneity, his incisive common sense, as well as his disdain for the pompous and the self-important.

Dates

  • 1955-1986

Extent

8 cubic feet (23 boxes)
The Papers of Laurence Wylie chiefly document Wylie's professional life, although a small amount of personal material is included. However, even in his professional papers, Wylie's personality is abundantly evident. The papers reflect Wylie's noted traits, his wit, his sly intuition, his spontaneity, his incisive common sense, as well as his disdain for the pompous and the self-important.

Biography of Laurence Wylie

Laurence Wylie was an anthropologist who specialized in the study of French culture and civilization. He was especially noted for his study of gesture. Harvard sought out Wylie not only for his successful research but because his teaching style was energetic and enlivened the undergraduate curriculum.

Wylie's major contribution to his field of study was a book entitled Village in the Vaucluse which sought out the rich complexity of the French through the lens of a small French village. He also served as a joint author of a half dozen books which dealt with French civilization; one such book written under Wylie's supervision by an undergraduate class. Wylie made a substantial contribution to a number of other works, including the Time-Life publication Communities in Change. Wylie instigated a major study of non-verbal communication.

As part of his study of gesture, Wylie attended the École Jacques Lecoq in Paris, studying movement, mime, and theater, 1972-1973. This course of study resulted in Wylie's participation in motion pictures. He produced two films, Chanzeaux and A Repertory of French Gestures. He also participated in several other films and in four television programs.

Wylie attended Indiana University, studying French language and literature. He continued his education both abroad and at home. He studied for two years in Paris at the Institute des Sciences Politiques and earned a Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures from Brown University in 1940. His studied anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania between 1947 and 1950.

Wylie said his dreams came true when Dean McGeorge Bundy of Harvard University offered a newly established chair in French Civilization to him. The C. Douglas Dillon Professorship of the Civilization of France is an inter-disciplinary chair. This allowed Wylie to be a member of both the Anthropology and Romance Languages and Literatures Departments at Harvard. Wylie was granted emeritus status in 1980, "having enjoyed a perfect situation for all these years," as he expressed in a reflective essay.

Wylie actively engaged in professional activities, which included participation in numerous conferences and committees, and membership in professional organizations. His professional achievement is recognized by a list of distinguished honors including the Legion of Honor.

Chronology
  • 1909 Born in Indianapolis, Indiana
  • 1929 Spends Junior year of college in France
  • 1931 AB from Indiana University
  • 1931 Assistant Instructor, Indiana University
  • 1936-1943 Member of faculty at Simmons College
  • 1943 Assistant Professor, Haverford College
  • 1949 Professor and Chairman of the Department of Romance Languages, Haverford College
  • 1950-1951 Spends sabbatical year in France, in the village of Roussillon in the Vaucluse
  • 1957 Publishes Village in the Vaucluse
  • 1965-1967 Cultural attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Paris
  • 1966 Publishes Chanzeaux, a Village in Anjou, which is edited by Wylie but written by his students
  • 1959 C. Douglas Dillon Professorship of the Civilization of France, Harvard University
  • 1972-1973 Attends École Jacques Lecoq in Paris, studying movement, mime, and theater
  • 1977 Publishes Beaux Gestes a guide to French body language
  • 1980 Professor Emeritus, Harvard University
  • July 25, 1996 Dies
Chronology
1909
Born in Indianapolis, Indiana
1929
Spends Junior year of college in France
1931
AB from Indiana University
1931
Assistant Instructor, Indiana University
1936-1943
Member of faculty at Simmons College
1943
Assistant Professor, Haverford College
1949
Professor and Chairman of the Department of Romance Languages, Haverford College
1950-1951
Spends sabbatical year in France, in the village of Roussillon in the Vaucluse
1957
Publishes Village in the Vaucluse
1965-1967
Cultural attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Paris
1966
Publishes Chanzeaux, a Village in Anjou, which is edited by Wylie but written by his students
1959
C. Douglas Dillon Professorship of the Civilization of France, Harvard University
1972-1973
Attends École Jacques Lecoq in Paris, studying movement, mime, and theater
1977
Publishes Beaux Gestes a guide to French body language
1980
Professor Emeritus, Harvard University
July 25, 1996
Dies

Acquisition Information

Accession number: 11534, 1988 September 21.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2016 July 12.
Title
Wylie, Laurence William, 1909- Papers of Laurence Wylie, ca. 1955-1986 : an inventory
Author
Harvard University Archives
EAD ID
hua02001

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

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