Manuscript Evidence of the Teaching of the Language Arts in Late Anglo-Saxon and Early Norman England, with Particular Regard to the Role of the Classics
Knappe, Gabriele (2013): „Manuscript Evidence of the Teaching of the Language Arts in Late Anglo-Saxon and Early Norman England, with Particular Regard to the Role of the Classics“. Turnhout: Brepols.
Title of the compilation:
The Classics in the Medieval and Renaissance Classroom: The Role of Ancient Texts in the Arts Curriculum as Revealed by Surviving Manuscripts and Early Printed Books
Year of publication:
This article highlights indications of the role of the classics in the teaching of grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic as evidenced by the existing manuscripts from the period c. 950 to 1130 in England, that is, the roughly 180 years from the time when the changes brought about by the Benedictine Reform were felt in England until the full impact of Peter Abelard's writings set in. In an Appendix the article provides a full list of the manuscript evidence. The article itself discusses observations concerning the language arts which conform to the three criteria recently suggested as indicative of the classroom use of a given (instructional) text or manuscript: Firstly, the presence of modified, alongside full versions of teaching texts is evident in the tenth-century Excerptiones de Prisciano and Ælfric's further adaptation and translation of this text in his Old English Grammar. The modification of the end of Isidore’s book on rhetoric in Etymologiae, ii in the light of 'grammatical rhetoric' belongs here, as does a dialogue excerpt of Isidore's Etymologiae and Differentiae, which might well have served as an aid in teaching Isidore's De fide catholica. Secondly, didactic glosses and commentaries abound in educational manuscripts of the school authors, mainly for grammatical instruction with the aim of teaching how to read and interpret the Latin authors correctly; thus they represent the most obvious educational use of the classics. Furthermore, the commentary tradition on Ciceronian rhetoric is witnessed for the first time in early Anglo-Norman England. Thirdly and finally, the layout and disposition of the texts for educational purposes joins the instructional use of compilations of handbooks in the case of dialectical compilations and grammatical compilations which serve as information resources for the teacher. Schematic diagrams to visualize the structure of a complex exposition were clearly devised for didactic benefit. Included in the discussions is fresh evidence from the manuscripts Oxford, Bodl. Libr., MS Bodley 239 (2244) and BL, MS Royal 5. E. xvi.
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November 8, 2013