Ewen, Frederic, 1899-1988

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Frederic Ewen was an author, educator, and a champion for the individuals right to self-expression and intellectual freedom. Frederic Ewen was born on October 11th, 1899 in Lemberg, Austria; he was brought to the United States by his family in 1912 and became a naturalized citizen that same year. Ewen grew up in Brooklyn and attended City College where he graduated in 1921. He then entered Columbia University where he received both a MA and Ph.D. While studying at City College, he began his career as a teacher and in 1930 became assistant professor of English at Brooklyn College. Within a few years after joining Brooklyn Colleges faculty Ewen became involved in the two strong political currents of the day, speaking out against the rise of fascism in Europe and against the inequality of suffering during the Great Depression. He became an active member of the Teachers' Union, which organized the professors in all the city colleges and sought to end discrimination on city campuses. In 1940 a New York State legislative panel, known as the Rapp-Coudert Committee, began to investigate allegations of subversive activities in the Citys public schools and colleges. Along with seven other teachers from Brooklyn College, Ewen refused to testify before the panel. Although Ewen and the Brooklyn College professors were spared the fate suffered by their colleagues at City College, who were investigated by the committee and dismissed by their school, Ewen and the other progressive teachers at Brooklyn could not escape from the McCarthy Era. After refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Committee in 1952, Ewen resigned rather than be fired from Brooklyn College. He then organized theatrical lectures and performances featuring blacklisted actors such as Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, John Randolph, and Sam Waterston. These stage, radio and television performances included Ewen's dramatic adaptations of literary classics. Ewen was also the author of several books, including a biography of Bertolt Brecht. He died in 1988.

From the description of Papers, 1915-1988 (bulk 1940-1970). (New York University). WorldCat record id: 476110619

Frederic Ewen was an author, educator, and champion of the individual's right to self-expression and intellectual freedom. A popular lecturer at Brooklyn College, where he was Assistant Professor of English Literature, he dedicated his final book to his former students, who for him had made "teaching a privilege and learning a joy." Dr. Ewen's political activism during the 1930s and thereafter led to his becoming a victim of the academic witch-hunts of the McCarthy Era, and his forced retirement from Brooklyn College in 1952.

Frederic Ewen was born on October 11, 1899, in Lembert, Austria, the son of Isaac and Helen (Kramer) Ewen. He was brought by his family to the United States in 1912 and became a naturalized citizen that same year. Ewen grew up in Brooklyn and then attended City College, where he graduated in 1921; he then attended Columbia University, where he received his M.A. degree in 1925 and completed his Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature in 1932. He began his career as a teacher at City College, starting as an English instructor in 1923. In 1930 he began teaching English at Brooklyn College, and eventually attained the rank of assistant professor. An activist in many progressive causes in the 1930s, Ewen was in demand as a political speaker. On campus his political activities included serving as advisor to a student Marxist society, helping to organize support for the Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War, and participating in work of the New York Teachers Union.

Established in 1940, and functioning mostly in 1941-42, the New York State Legislature's Joint Committee to Investigate Procedure and Methods of Allocating State Moneys for Public School Purposes and Subversive Activities, known as the Rapp-Coudert Committee, investigated allegations of subversive activities in the New York City's public schools and colleges. Along with seven other teachers from Brooklyn College, Dr. Ewen refused to testify before the Committee's representatives, calling the investigation an "attack on the things that the system stands for and had fought in the last 20 years to obtain." Although Dr. Ewen and other tenured Brooklyn College professors were spared the fate suffered by a group of their colleagues at City College who were investigated and dismissed (or pressured to resign) by the Board of Higher Education, Dr. Ewen and other progressive teachers at Brooklyn suffered professionally, and fell under suspicion again during the anti-subversive hysteria of the early 1950s.

In addition to his teaching, Dr. Ewen was a noted author. His first book, The Prestige of Schiller in England, was published in 1932; three years later his Bibliography of Eighteenth-Century English Literature followed. Musical Vienna, which he co-wrote with his brother, was published in 1939 and The Poetry and Prose of Heinrich Heine was published in 1948. In 1949 Ewen married Miriam Gideon, a composer.

In 1952 Ewen was called to testify before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (known as the McCarran Committee), and he knew that non-cooperation would mean the loss of his job. Because of his long service he was eligible for early retirement, and he felt obliged to accept that alternative; his retirement took effect the day before his scheduled testimony. Appearing before the Committee's representatives, he stood on his Fifth Amendment rights and refused to testify. Dr. Ewen's wife, Miriam Gideon, a composer who also taught (in an untenured position) at Brooklyn College, lost her position as well, and in order to support his family he organized lectures and theatrical presentations in union halls, theaters and other venues in the 1950s and 1960s. Gathering a team of blacklisted actors who were in need of work, such as Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, and John Randolph, Dr. Ewen created a novel form of public performance, in which he lectured on a particular author or literary/dramatic theme, and the actors read excerpts from the relevant works. Television adaptations by Ewen include "Two Jewish Stories" in 1966, "The Unknown Chekhov" in 1967, and Chekhov's "Ward Number 6" in 1968, all done for CBS.

In 1967, Citadel Press published Dr. Ewen's Bertolt Brecht: His Life, His Art, and His Times . Over the next 20 years, Professor Ewen worked on other publishing projects. The first volume of his projected trilogy on the literature and politics of the mid-nineteenth century, was published by Citadel in 1984 as Heroic Imagination: The Creative Genius of Europe from Waterloo to the Revolution of 1848. Ewen's introduction to The Collected Short Stories of Maxim Gorky appeared in the month of his death, October 1988.

Frederic Ewen died on October 18, 1988, in Manhattan. In 1981, first the City College Faculty Senate and then the CUNY Faculty Senate passed a resolution (composed by Steve Leberstein) apologizing formally to the victims of the Rapp-Coudert investigations. In 1988, after Ewen's death, a lecture series bearing his name was established at Brooklyn College. In subsequent years the Frederic Ewen Academic Freedom Center was established with financial support from Ewen's nephew, Herbert Kurz. First based at Brooklyn College, the project was relocated as the Frederic Ewen Academic Freedom Collection at New York University's Tamiment Library. At its 75th anniversary commencement in June 2005, Brooklyn College presented a special Presidential Citation to Ewen's family; the citation recognized Frederic Ewen's accomplishments as a scholar and a teacher, and noted his "impassioned defense of liberty and intellectual freedom."

From the guide to the Frederic Ewen Audiotape and Videotape Collection, 1954-1990, (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)

Frederic Ewen was an author, educator, and champion of the individual's right to self-expression and intellectual freedom. A popular lecturer at Brooklyn College, where he was Professor of English Literature, he dedicated his final book to his former students, who for him had made "teaching a privilege and learning a joy." Dr. Ewen's commitment to freedom of thought, as well as his political activism during the 1930s, led to his becoming a victim of the academic witch hunts of McCarthy Era, and his forced resignation from Brooklyn College in 1952.

Frederic Ewen was born on October 11th, 1899 in Lemberg, Austria, the son of Isaac and Helen (Kramer) Ewen. He was brought by his family to the United States in 1912 and became a naturalized citizen that same year. Ewen grew up in Brooklyn and then attended City College, where he graduated in 1921. He then entered Columbia University, where he received his M.A. in 1925 and his Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature in 1932. While studying at City College, he began his career as a teacher, with an appointment as an instructor of English in 1923. In 1930 he became assistant professor of English at Brooklyn College.

In addition to his teaching, Dr. Ewen was a noted author. His first book, The Prestige of Schiller in England, was published by the Columbia University Press in 1932. His Bibliography of Eighteenth-Century English Literature was issued by the same publisher in 1935. With his brother David Ewen, he wrote Musical Vienna, published by Whittlesey House in 1939. The Poetry and Prose of Heinrich Heine, by Citadel, followed in 1948.

Within a few years after he joined Brooklyn College's faculty, Dr. Ewen became involved in the two strong political currents of the day, speaking out against the rise of fascism in Europe and against the inequality of suffering during the Great Depression. He became an active member of the Teachers Union, which organized faculty in all the city colleges and sought to end discrimination on city campuses. He was also active in the campaign to support the Spanish Republicans during the Spanish Civil War.

In 1940 the New York State Legislature's Joint Committee to Investigate Procedure and Methods of Allocating State Moneys for Public School Purposes and Subversive Activities, known as the Rapp-Coudert Committee, began to investigate allegations of subversive activities in the City's public schools and colleges. Along with seven other teachers from Brooklyn College, Dr. Ewen refused to testify publicly before the panel; in private testimony he called the investigation an "attack on the things that the system stands for and had fought in the last 20 years to obtain." Although Dr. Ewen and the Brooklyn College professors were spared the fate suffered by their colleagues at City College who were investigated by the committee--and dismissed by their school--Dr. Ewen and the other progressive teachers at Brooklyn could not escape a renewed assault during the McCarthy Era. After refusing to cooperate with the McCarran Committee in 1952, Dr. Ewen accepted early retirement and a small pension rather than be fired from Brooklyn College. The loss of his teaching position at the early age of 53 was a bitter blow, as he had dedicated his life to his students.

He married Miriam Gideon, a composer and an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College, in 1949. She lost her Brooklyn position in 1954. Frederick Ewen began to organize lectures and readings in union halls, theaters, and other venues. Gathering a team of blacklisted actors who were also in need of work, among them Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, and John Randolph, Ewen lectured on literature and drama, and the actors would read excerpts from selected works. With Phoebe Brand and John Randolph, Ewen adapted James Joyce's novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which was then produced off-Broadway at the Martinique Theater from 1962-1963. Other adaptations with Brand and Randolph include Thomas Mann's "Magic Mountain," produced at Brandeis University in 1967. Television adaptations by Dr. Ewen include "Two Jewish Stories" in 1966, the "Unknown Chekhov" in 1967, and Chekhov's "Ward Number 6" in 1968, all for CBS.

In 1967, Citadel Press published Dr. Ewen's very highly regarded Bertolt Brecht: His Life, His Art, and His Times . He then began to work on his most ambitious project, a three-volume review of the literature and politics of the mid-nineteenth century entitled A Half-Century of Greatness, the first volume, Heroic Imagination: The Creative Genius of Europe from Waterloo to the Revolution of 1848, was published by Citadel in 1984. In October of 1988, Citadel published The Collected Short Stories of Maxim Gorky, which featured an introduction by Dr. Ewen. Shortly before the Gorky book was released, Brooklyn College formally apologized to Dr. Ewen and the other professors dismissed by the college during the McCarthy Era, and in 1988 a lecture series was established at Brooklyn College bearing his name. Frederic Ewen died on October 18, 1988 in Manhattan.

Frederic Ewen Bibliography:

Bertolt Brecht : His Life, His Art, and His Times. New York : Citadel Press, 1967. 573 pp. Bibliography of Eighteenth-Century English Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 1935. 28 pp. Heroic Imagination : the Creative Genius of Europe from Waterloo (1815) to the Revolution of 1848. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press, 1984. 742 pp. Musical Vienna. London: Whittlesey House, 1939. 321 pp. The Prestige of Schiller in England, 1788-1859. New York: Columbia University Press, 1932. [and New York: AMS Press, 1973]. 287 pp. The Poetry and Prose of Heinrich Heine, selected and edited with an introduction by Frederic Ewen. New York: Citadel Press: 1948. 874 pp.

From the guide to the Frederic Ewen Papers, Bulk, 1940-1970, 1915-1988, (Bulk 1940-1970), (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)

Frederic Ewen was an author, educator, and champion of the individual's right to self-expression and intellectual freedom. A popular lecturer at Brooklyn College, where he was Professor of English Literature, he dedicated his final book to his former students, who for him had made "teaching a privilege and learning a joy." Dr. Ewen's commitment to freedom of thought, as well as his political activism during the 1930s, led to his becoming a victim of the academic witch hunts of McCarthy Era, and his forced resignation from Brooklyn College in 1952.

Frederic Ewen was born on October 11th, 1899 in Lemberg, Austria, the son of Isaac and Helen (Kramer) Ewen. He was brought by his family to the United States in 1912 and became a naturalized citizen that same year. Ewen grew up in Brooklyn and then attended City College, where he graduated in 1921. He then entered Columbia University, where he received his M.A. in 1925 and his Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature in 1932. While studying at City College, he began his career as a teacher, with an appointment as an instructor of English in 1923. In 1930 he became assistant professor of English at Brooklyn College.

In addition to his teaching, Dr. Ewen was a noted author. His first book, The Prestige of Schiller in England, was published by the Columbia University Press in 1932. His Bibliography of Eighteenth-Century English Literature was issued by the same publisher in 1935. With his brother David Ewen, he wrote Musical Vienna, published by Whittlesey House in 1939. The Poetry and Prose of Heinrich Heine, by Citadel, followed in 1948.

Within a few years after he joined Brooklyn College's faculty, Dr. Ewen became involved in the two strong political currents of the day, speaking out against the rise of fascism in Europe and against the inequality of suffering during the Great Depression. He became an active member of the Teachers Union, which organized faculty in all the city colleges and sought to end discrimination on city campuses. He was also active in the campaign to support the Spanish Republicans during the Spanish Civil War.

In 1940 the New York State Legislature's Joint Committee to Investigate Procedure and Methods of Allocating State Moneys for Public School Purposes and Subversive Activities, known as the Rapp-Coudert Committee, began to investigate allegations of subversive activities in the City's public schools and colleges. Along with seven other teachers from Brooklyn College, Dr. Ewen refused to testify publicly before the panel; in private testimony he called the investigation an "attack on the things that the system stands for and had fought in the last 20 years to obtain." Although Dr. Ewen and the Brooklyn College professors were spared the fate suffered by their colleagues at City College who were investigated by the committee--and dismissed by their school--Dr. Ewen and the other progressive teachers at Brooklyn could not escape a renewed assault during the McCarthy Era. After refusing to cooperate with the McCarran Committee in 1952, Dr. Ewen accepted early retirement and a small pension rather than be fired from Brooklyn College. The loss of his teaching position at the early age of 53 was a bitter blow, as he had dedicated his life to his students.

He married Miriam Gideon, a composer and an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College, in 1949. She lost her Brooklyn position in 1954. Frederick Ewen began to organize lectures and readings in union halls, theaters, and other venues. Gathering a team of blacklisted actors who were also in need of work, among them Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, and John Randolph, Ewen lectured on literature and drama, and the actors would read excerpts from selected works. With Phoebe Brand and John Randolph, Ewen adapted James Joyce's novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which was then produced off-Broadway at the Martinique Theater from 1962-1963. Other adaptations with Brand and Randolph include Thomas Mann's "Magic Mountain," produced at Brandeis University in 1967. Television adaptations by Dr. Ewen include "Two Jewish Stories" in 1966, the "Unknown Chekhov" in 1967, and Chekhov's "Ward Number 6" in 1968, all for CBS.

In 1967, Citadel Press published Dr. Ewen's very highly regarded Bertolt Brecht: His Life, His Art, and His Times . He then began to work on his most ambitious project, a three-volume review of the literature and politics of the mid-nineteenth century entitled A Half-Century of Greatness, the first volume, Heroic Imagination: The Creative Genius of Europe from Waterloo to the Revolution of 1848, was published by Citadel in 1984. In October of 1988, Citadel published The Collected Short Stories of Maxim Gorky, which featured an introduction by Dr. Ewen. Shortly before the Gorky book was released, Brooklyn College formally apologized to Dr. Ewen and the other professors dismissed by the college during the McCarthy Era, and in 1988 a lecture series was established at Brooklyn College bearing his name. Frederic Ewen died on October 18, 1988 in Manhattan.

Frederic Ewen Bibliography:

Bertolt Brecht : His Life, His Art, and His Times. New York : Citadel Press, 1967. 573 pp. Bibliography of Eighteenth-Century English Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 1935. 28 pp. Heroic Imagination : the Creative Genius of Europe from Waterloo (1815) to the Revolution of 1848. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press, 1984. 742 pp. Musical Vienna. London: Whittlesey House, 1939. 321 pp. The Prestige of Schiller in England, 1788-1859. New York: Columbia University Press, 1932. [and New York: AMS Press, 1973]. 287 pp. The Poetry and Prose of Heinrich Heine, selected and edited with an introduction by Frederic Ewen. New York: Citadel Press: 1948. 874 pp.

From the guide to the Frederic Ewen Papers, Bulk, 1940-1970, 1915-1988, (Bulk 1940-1970), (Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Frederic Ewen Papers, Bulk, 1940-1970, 1915-1988, (Bulk 1940-1970) Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn John Randolph Papers, Bulk, 1940-1999, 1918-1999, (Bulk 1940-1999) Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
creatorOf Frederic Ewen Audiotape and Videotape Collection, 1954-1990 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
creatorOf Frederic Ewen Papers, Bulk, 1940-1970, 1915-1988, (Bulk 1940-1970) Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
creatorOf Ewen, Frederic, 1899-. Papers, 1915-1988 (bulk 1940-1970). Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
creatorOf Ewen, Frederic, 1899-1988. Papers, 1966-1987. Brooklyn College
referencedIn Kenneth P. Neilson: Frederic Ewen Collection, 1964-1989 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
creatorOf Ewen, Frederic. The worship of sorrow and its relation to the ideas of Walter Pater. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Ackely, John. person
associatedWith Adler, Irving person
associatedWith Adler, Joyce Sparer. person
associatedWith Aron, Bruno person
associatedWith Auerbach, Leo, 1918- person
associatedWith Austin, Richard, 1903- person
associatedWith Bander, Ingram person
associatedWith Baron, Ben. person
associatedWith Brand, Phoebe, 1907- person
associatedWith Bressler, Joseph, 1907- person
associatedWith Brooklyn College. corporateBody
associatedWith Brooklyn College. Dept. of English. corporateBody
associatedWith Buck, Paul, 1911- person
associatedWith Cammer, Moses person
associatedWith Caress, Barbara person
associatedWith Case, Clara person
associatedWith Case, Meyer person
associatedWith Citadel Press. corporateBody
associatedWith City University of New York. City College. corporateBody
associatedWith Cohen, David. person
associatedWith Cunningham, Sarah. person
associatedWith Davis, Ossie person
associatedWith Davis, Ossie. person
associatedWith Dee, Ruby person
associatedWith Dee, Ruby. person
associatedWith Donath, Ludwig person
associatedWith Dunham, Barrows, 1905- person
associatedWith Ewen, Alexander. person
associatedWith Ewen, Miriam. person
associatedWith Ewen, Miriam Gideon person
associatedWith Ewen, Miriam Gideon person
associatedWith Foner, Henry person
associatedWith Foner, Moe, 1915- person
associatedWith Foner, Philip Sheldon, 1910-1994 person
associatedWith Franklin, Norman L. person
associatedWith Fraunglass, William. person
associatedWith Friedman, David. person
associatedWith Gideon, Miriam, 1906-1996 person
associatedWith Goldway, David. person
associatedWith Harap, Louis person
associatedWith Kaiser, Samuel, 1910- person
associatedWith Kamin, Leon J. person
associatedWith Leberstein, Steven person
associatedWith Neilson, Kenneth P. person
associatedWith Nelson, Marjorie. person
associatedWith New York (State). Legislature. Joint Committee to Investigate Procedure and Methods of Allocating State Moneys for Public School Purposes and Subversive Activities. corporateBody
associatedWith New York (State). Legislature. Joint Legislative Committee to Investigate Procedure and Methods of Allocating State Moneys for Public School Purposes and Subversive Activities. corporateBody
associatedWith Pomerance, Isidore. person
associatedWith Randolph, John, 1915-2004. person
associatedWith Rubinstein, Annette T. (Annette Teta), 1910-2007 person
associatedWith Schaftel, Oscar. person
associatedWith Schappes, Morris U. (Morris Urman), 1907- person
associatedWith Schrecker, Ellen person
associatedWith Sperber, Al. person
associatedWith Steigman, Joseph, 1913- person
associatedWith Teachers' Union of the City of New York. corporateBody
associatedWith Thomas, Sidney, 1915- person
associatedWith United States. Congress. House. Committee on Un-American Activities. corporateBody
associatedWith Wallach, Sam person
associatedWith Waterston, Sam. person
associatedWith Wheeler, George Shaw, 1908- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (N.Y.)
New York (State)--New York
New York (N.Y.)
United States
New York (N.Y.)
Subject
English literature--Political aspects
Communism--United States
Communist teachers
Civil rights workers--United States
Literature--Study and teaching
Anti-communist movements
Communists
Literature--Study and teaching--Political aspects--History--20th century
English literature
Civil rights
Occupation
Activity

Person

Birth 1899

Death 1988-10-18

Americans

English

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