Parution – Axel Hörstedt, “Latin Dissertations and Disputations in the Early Modern Swedish Gymnasium. A Study of a Latin School Tradition c. 1620-c 1820”, Göteborgs universitet, 2018

This study is concerned with Latin dissertations and disputations in the early modern Swedish gymnasium in the period c. 1620 – c. 1820. Interest in early modern academic dissertations and disputations has increased during the last few decades and has generated a number of studies, while, on the other hand, gymnasial dissertations and disputations have not earned any scholarly attention at all, which makes this study the first of its kind. The aim is to give an overview of the practice of disputations in Swedish gymnasiums and also (to some extent) in primary schools. Characteristics and functions of printed gymnasial dissertations are analyzed and discussed, through consideration of typographic appearance, distribution in time, and choice of subject, as well as the role of the different participants (respondent, opponent, praeses and audience) and the question of authorship. Particular attention is paid to the social role of gymnasial dissertations by examination of paratexts (social peritexts), such as dedications, prefaces and congratulatory poetry. The primary material consists of almost 790 printed dissertations. The study contributes to our understanding of disputation culture and dissertations in general, by adding the gymnasial aspect of early modern Swedish dissertations and disputations, a previously overlooked text type. Numerous texts samples of the Neo-Latin used in gymnasial dissertations are also given. It is concluded that the act of disputation was an important didactic element in early modern Swedish education from the early seventeenth century until the beginning of the nineteenth century. Subjects of gymnasial dissertations corresponded to a high degree with the subjects of the gymnasial curriculum. The study covers a period of roughly two hundred years, meaning that it has been possible to notice diachronic changes in the material regarding choice of subjects as well as typographical features. Gymnasial dissertations in the seventeenth century were in general comprehensive, academic-like works which often included paratexts (dedications, congratulatory verses etc.). However, by the mid-eighteenth century almost all dissertations were short theses without paratexts. This study also provides a catalogue of printed gymnasial dissertations from the beginning of the 1620s to 1799.

Parution – Vladislav Rjéoutski et Willem Frijhoff (eds.), “Language Choice in Enlightenment Europe. Education, Sociability, and Governance”, De Gruyter, 2018

This multinational collection of essays challenges the traditional image of a monolingual Ancient Regime in Enlightenment Europe, both East and West. Its archival research explores the important role played by selective language use in social life and in the educational provisions in the early constitution of modern society. A broad range of case studies show how language was viewed and used symbolically by social groups – ranging from the nobility to the peasantry – to develop, express, and mark their identities.

Parution – Eric Adler, “The Battle of the Classics: How a Nineteenth-Century Debate Can Save the Humanities Today”, Oxford, 2020

The Battle of the Classics criticizes contemporary apologetics for the humanities and presents a historically informed case for a decidedly different approach to rescuing the humanistic disciplines in American higher education. It uses the so-called Battle of the Classics of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as a springboard for crafting a novel foundation for the humanistic tradition. The book argues that current defences of the humanities rely on the humanistic disciplines as inculcators of certain poorly defined skills such as “critical thinking.” It finds fault with this conventional approach, arguing that humanists cannot hope to save their disciplines without arguing in favor of particular humanities content. As the lackluster defenses of the classical humanities in the late nineteenth century help prove, instrumental apologetics are bound to fail. All the same, the book shows that proponents of the Great Books favor a curriculum that is too intellectually narrow for the twenty-first century. The Battle of the Classics thus lays out a substance-based approach to undergraduate education that will revive the humanities while steering clear of overreliance on the Western canon. The book envisions a global humanities based on the examination of masterworks from manifold cultures as the heart of an intellectually and morally sound education.

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