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Prior, Moody E. (Moody Erasmus), 1901-1996



  • Existence: 1901 - 1996


English professor Moody Erasmus Prior (birth name Papadapolous) was born on September 29, 1901, in Fatsa, Turkey. He studied at Northwestern before becoming a member of the English faculty in 1924. Prior was an active member of the campus community, serving as Department Chair and Director of Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate School amongst other appointments. His research interests focused on English drama and he was considered an authority on Shakespeare.

Prior arrived in the United States in 1906, and became an American citizen in 1914. He pursued his undergraduate and part of his graduate studies at Northwestern University where he received his B.S. degree in 1923 and his M.A. in 1924. In 1930 Prior took his doctorate from the University of Chicago.

Prior returned to Northwestern University as an instructor in English at Northwestern from 1924 to 1927. He then served as Assistant Professor, 1930-1937; Associate Professor, 1937-1944; and Full Professor, 1944-1948. He was named the John C. Shaffer Professor in the Humanities and English in 1948 and held this professorship until his retirement in 1969, when Northwestern accorded him emeritus status.

Prior served the English Department at Northwestern as Chairman, 1944-1945, and Director of Graduate Studies, 1964-1969. He was Dean of the University's Graduate School between 1951 and 1964. Prior was instrumental in establishing the Northwestern University Press in 1956 and served as its first President and as a member of its Board between 1956 and 1969. In addition, he was Vice Chair of the Library Planning Committee and of the University Committee on Planning. Northwestern awarded Prior its Alumni Medal in 1968.

Prior was active in a number of professional and scholarly associations and institutions. Between 1960 and 1962 he served as Vice President and President of the Association of Graduate Schools. He was a Rockefeller Foundation consultant to the National Council of Education of Thailand during the winter of 1966. Prior was an administrative consultant to the Newberry Library, 1972-1973, and Chairman of its Grants Committee, 1973-1976. He was a member of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Committee, the Princeton University English Department Visiting Committee, and the American Academy of Sciences' National Committee to study post-doctoral programs.

Prior's primary research interests included English drama and the literature and thought of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He was an authority on Shakespeare. He published extensively, including three books: The Language of Tragedy (1947), Science and the Humanities (1962), and The Drama of Power, Studies in Shakespeare's History Plays (1973).

Prior married Carlene Ehle. The couple had no children. Moody Prior died at the Wagner Health Center in Evanston on October 25, 1996.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Moody E. Prior (1901-1996) Papers

Identifier: 11/3/11/30
Abstract Moody E. Prior came to Northwestern University in 1924 as an instructor in English. He became an assistant professor in 1930, and associate professor in 1937, and pprofessor, 1944. He held John C. Shaffer Professor in the Humanities and English from 1948 until his retirement in 1969. His research interests focused on English drama and he was considered an authority on Shakespeare. The Moody E. Prior Papers fill six boxes and span the years 1924 through 1996. The bulk of the material in the...
Dates: 1909-2017