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The Grammar of Our Civility

Classical Education in America

Lee T. Pearcy

Publication Year: 2005

The pragmatic demands of American life have made higher education's sustained study of ancient Greece and Rome an irrelevant luxury, ;and this despite the fact that American democracy depends so heavily on classical language, literature, and political theory. In The Grammar of Our Civility, Lee T. Pearcy chronicles how this came to be. Pearcy argues that classics never developed a distinctly American way of responding to distinctly American social conditions. Instead, American classical education simply imitated European models that were designed to underwrite European culture. The Grammar of Our Civility also offers a concrete proposal for the role of classical education, one that takes into account practical expectations for higher education in twenty-first century America.

Published by: Baylor University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xii

This short book has been a long time in the making, although the actual writing of it occupied me for only five years, from 1999 until the summer of 2004. Its genesis, though, can be traced to the autumn of 1984, when I found myself enmeshed very much against my will in a power struggle of the kind that too often disfigures academic life at the ...

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Chapter 1. The Grammar of Our Civility

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pp. 1-42

I want to talk about what happens when language no longer describes things, when words slip their moorings in reality. I want to make the case for paying attention to a form of education that hardly anyone in American universities practices. Here is what happened. Coca-Cola. Aspirin. Yellow boxes of dynamite. ...

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Chapter 2. The American Dialect

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pp. 43-84

In 1936 Werner Jaeger, forty-eight years old, stood at the peak of a brilliant academic career. He was the author of a ground-breaking work on the development of Aristotle's thought and countless other books and articles; he held one of the most prestigious academic posts in the German-speaking world; he had founded Die Antike, a highbrow ...

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Chapter 3. Finis: Four Arguments against Classics

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pp. 85-116

C. S. Lewis is supposed to have remarked that if you wanted to find a man who could not read Vergil in Latin, although his father could, you would have a much better chance of success in the twentieth century A.D. than in the ninth. I think it entirely possible that if my great-great-great-grandchildren want to learn a classical language ...

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Chapter 4. Prolegomena to a Pragmatic Classicism

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pp. 117-146

I may seem to have written a book about the death of classical studies in America. That has not been my intention, nor is that outcome my hope; indeed, in the years since I began the line of thinking that led to this book, increasing numbers of students in American secondary schools have begun to study Latin, and in universities Classics has ...


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pp. 147-160


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pp. 161-172


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pp. 173-184

E-ISBN-13: 9781602581296
E-ISBN-10: 1602581290
Print-ISBN-13: 9781932792164
Print-ISBN-10: 1932792163

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2005

Edition: 1st