Reading Latin in Schools and Colleges

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Departmental Papers (Classical Studies)
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Years ago, when I began studying Latin, I did not intend to become a student of literature. Nevertheless, that is what happened, and my way of reading literature-any literature-is always informed by my interest and training in Latin and Greek. The same is, of course, not necessarily true either of all classicists (whose main interests may not be accurately described as "literary") or of all readers (who may not even know Latin or Greek)-and I try not to behave as if it should be! But there is no getting entirely away from the business of reading, and as both a teacher of classics and a teacher of literature, I have an enormous professional concern with how students are taught to read. In my own experience, viewed in hindsight, the apparent progression from the study of Latin and Greek as languages (which, of course, never actually concludes) to the study of Latin and Greek as literature looks so natural as to appear inevitable. It is, however, anything but, and for me or anyone involved in running an educational program at any level to assume otherwise would be a big mistake. That is a relatively simple point. A more subtle one, perhaps, is this: our professional failure to take this point seriously helps to explain some of the disjunctions that exist between high school and undergraduate classics programs, including the perplexing tendency of students with strong high school classics backgrounds not to continue these studies in their college and university careers.

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The Classical World
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