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Leonard Brown Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Sep 1997

Biographical History

Spanning 1924 to 1974, the Leonard Brown Papers encompasses writings and memorabilia of the Syracuse University professor of English and literary critical theorist. Arriving at Syracuse in the mid-twenties, Brown led students in the exploration of the implications of Freudian theory and Marxist philosophy as applied to literary criticism. In the mid-thirties Brown was dismissed from the University for introducing dialiectical materialism to his class; however, when the local newspapers reported Brown's discharge, he was re-instated the next day. In a tribute to Brown, Malcolm Cowley wrote:

There are many surviving tokens of what he might have done; there are fine short stories, essays, anthologies, critical commentaries. Indeed, they cover so much ground that they are like the ruins of some ancient city as photographed from the air. They are, however, the ruins of a city that was never built.
That was Leonard's tragedy, and there is no use hiding it, but there is another side of his career that was a brilliant success. He was among the best teachers of writing that this country has known...every writer of the past thirty years who attended Syracuse -- there are many -- and hundreds who were simply interested in writing without wishing to turn professional, owe a personal debt to Leonard Brown.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Writings includes course notes and plans, essays, fiction, and poetry. Among the course materials for Brown's 1940 Ernest Hemingway seminar is a student paper submitted by Shirley Jackson. Critical essays on literary theory, drafts and notes for novellas and short stories, and manuscript poems constitute the remainder of Brown's writings. A single issue of Avenue (Vol. 1, no. 2, Jan. 22, 1934), a periodical published in Syracuse and edited in part by Leonard Brown, has been catalogued for the Library's rare book collections.

Memorabilia comprises diplomas, photographs, college transcripts, and tributes.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Additional material relating to Leonard Brown may be found among the Library's papers of his former student, Albion College professor emeritus John E. Hart.

Subject Headings


Brown, Leonard Stanley.

Associated Titles



American literature -- 20th century.
Literature -- History and criticism.

Genres and Forms

Lecture notes.
Manuscripts (document genre)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Leonard Brown Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

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