Spingarn, Joel Elias (spĭnˈgärn) [key], 1875–1939, American educator and literary critic, b. New York City, grad. Columbia (B.A., 1895; Ph.D., 1899). He was professor (1899–1911) of comparative literature at Columbia, and a founder (1919) of the publishing firm of Harcourt, Brace and Company. His literary work includes A History of Literary Criticism in the Renaissance (1899), Creative Criticism and Other Essays (1931), and several books of poems. A prominent officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from 1913 until his death, he established (1913) the Spingarn medal, awarded annually for outstanding achievement by an African American.
See studies by M. van Deusen (1971) and B. J. Spingarn (1972).