9) Sever Hall

Sever Hall

Sever Hall, built from 1878-1880, was designed by famed American architect H.H. Richardson, whose most acclaimed work is Trinity Church in Copley Square.

James sometimes taught in this building, and his graduate student Dickinson S. Miller remembers a class with James in one of the tower rooms of the hall, saying James “looks more like a sportsman than a professor.”

Indeed, James did not look or talk or think like a professor. His restless energy and desire to explore, examine and experiment stood in contrast to other contemporaries, particularly Josiah Royce, who was formal and composed in the classroom.

His unorthodox methods are also exemplified in the infamous story of Gertrude Stein's final examination. After reading the questions, Stein wrote in her examination book: “Dear Professor James, I am so sorry but really I do not feel like an examination paper in philosophy today.” Then she left the classroom. Next day she received the reply: “Dear Miss Stein, I understand perfectly how you feel. I often feel like that myself.” Then he gave her the highest mark of the class.

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