Helen Louise Cohen made modern and classic plays more accessible to high school students around the country through her widely used anthologies. Cohen began teaching English at Washington Irving High School in 1903 and earned a PhD from Columbia in 1915. By 1909, she was the high school’s deputy principal, and in 1914 she became chair of the English department. She also lectured at Columbia University Extension School from 1914–1915. Cohen believed that teaching the arts to high school students was especially important because it was likely the end of their formal education, and drama could provide “the young worker … diversion, solace, and inspiration.” While her own education had focused on medieval and renaissance literature, Cohen’s anthologies focused on modern American drama, in the hopes that students would feel a sense of national pride and also be inspired to write their own plays. Her passionate introductions to her anthologies reflected these hopes, describing how to engage with a play and how students should understand (or construct) a well–written drama.
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Helen Louise Cohen." (Viewed on June 2, 2020) <https://jwa.org/people/cohen-helen>.