Publication Date

April 2019

Advisor(s)

Andrew Szegedy-Maszak

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

For over one hundred years, those who teach Latin have been increasingly concerned with offering defenses for the study of their subject. What was once a central component in the educational system has experienced sharp declines in enrollment and prestige. In order to determine how best to present an argument for the potential benefits of Latin education today, it is necessary to examine the history of earlier attempts to promote Latin: how they were adapted to fit into larger social and educational developments over time, whether they contain classist, sexist, or racist rhetoric, and how educators sought to ensure that the promised benefits were delivered. This thesis presents a survey and historical analysis of Latin teaching in the U.S. from the early 20th century to the present. It reviews the viewpoints presented by proponents of Latin study, including arguments for mental discipline, improved writing in English, moral values, and knowledge of Roman history and literature. Also examined is the evolution of different approaches to teaching the grammar and reading of Latin. The study makes use of textbooks, instructional handbooks for teachers, and articles and reports about teaching Latin that have appeared over the decades in Classical journals. Bringing the survey up to date, the responses of a questionnaire that was distributed to high school Latin teachers and students in Connecticut are included and analyzed in order to consider which arguments remain currently prominent and how the study of Latin may be encouraged today.

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