Saturday, May 06, 2006


Då jag äntligen tog mig samman för ett tag sedan och skrev in mig på Bryn Mawr mailinglistan (recensioner av böcker rörande antiken, medeltiden och liknande) har jag fått en mängd mer eller mindre intressanta utskick i lådan.

En som fångade min uppmärksamhet var recensionen av Lee T. Pearcys The Grammar of Our Civility: Classical Education in America.
De klassiska språken har en lite annan ställning i USA än vad de har här i gamla goda Europa:

"Early American education reflected traditional English education, which
centered on Classics. By the mid 18th century, Americans began to
question the importance of a classically-based education at a time that
demanded practical knowledge: "the debate over the merits of practical
versus liberal education became a debate about the merits and
usefulness of classical studies". Reformers such as Benjamin Rush
and Thomas Paine, for example, viewed a classically-based education as
an element of Old World tyranny and demanded the removal of Greek and
Latin from American schools. Despite these attitudes, P. asserts that,
"the idea of our nation grew out of a dialogue between the founders and
the ancient world, and from the columns in our Capitol to the Latin on
our currency, superficial signs of their engagement with Greek and
Roman antiquity are everywhere". After the establishment of the
new nation, however, even Thomas Jefferson questioned the value of
classical models for the nation's future. By the 1830's, Classics had
moved from the center of American education to the periphery, and
Tocqueville's Democracy in America suggests that Americans were
becoming civilized in a way that did not rely on knowledge of
antiquity. By Jackson's presidency, "Classics moved from the arena of
political life into the academic world of schools and universities"

Det finns även intressanta resonemang om dess fortsatta relevans:

In Chapter 3, "Finis: Four Arguments Against Classics," P. relates four
arguments that demonstrate why Latin is in danger of being taught as
frequently as Akkadian or ancient Sumerian or even of disappearing from
formal higher education, "as ancient Greek nearly has already" (86).
The first, simply put, asserts that, "because the study of Greek and
Latin no longer serves any social function, Latin should no longer be
studied". This argument takes two forms. The first (weaker
version) suggests that Latin has no practical value, but is refutable
on the grounds that "the value of many subjects. . .lies in what they
do to students' minds, not in their content".
The second (stronger version) suggests that Latin and Classics, in general, have become alienated from their socio-economic base: "the self-conscious governing
class whose tastes, values, and attitudes classical education was
intended to form has vanished, and with it the social function of that

The second argument regards the study of Latin and
Greek as an elitist activity that acts as a barrier to understanding
antiquity for all but the best students. In addition, the argument
continues, "Latin. . .presents an especially clear and enduring case of
the unbreakable link between language and the oppression of elitist

The third argument against (the curricular subject
called) Latin holds that because grammar cannot describe the world
studying grammar is actually harmful to the intellect: "grammar and
metaphysics, in fact, are equally suspect. Both represent doomed
totalizing attempts to master and understand a world whose diversity
forever resists all mastery and all understanding. If grammar is to be
taught at all, it must be taught as one among many fictions".

Finally, the fourth argument asserts that classical education is a
cultural practice that began in the Renaissance and "developed in
response to historical, social, and cultural needs and pressures," but
now that it is possible to be considered "educated" without much of a
knowledge of antiquity, Classics "may be on the verge of becoming

Det hela:

Om jag berättar att jag skriver detta på min nya fina bärbara (tack Vitterhetsakademien!), sittandes på gräsmattan i solskenet, nyttjandes GU:s frikostiga trådlösa nätverk, blir ni avundsjuka då?

1 comment:

Erika said...

Mycket avundsjuk! Särskilt med tanke på att min (trots att den köptes i höstas) ogillar resor så mycket att den vägrar visa en skärmbild som går att arbeta med under minst en halv dag efter att den flyttats. Så mycket var det "bärbara" värt... om det nu inte är meningen att det ska vara skillnad på "bärbar", "resbar" och "fungerande". För bärbar är den ju onekligen.