Sunday, 8 January 2012

Comic Latin and other texts

A couple of extended out-takes from recent posts.

Further to Comic Grammars, check out The Comic Latin Grammar: A New and Facetious Introduction to the Latin Tongue (1840, Internet Archive comiclatingramm00leiggoog), by the same duo of Punch contributors, Percival Leigh and the illustrator John Leech, as The Comic English Grammar.  It too is a parody, in this case of The Eton Latin Grammar, first published in 1758 as An Introduction to the Latin Tongue, for the Use of Youth. (Most of the grammar is over my head - I know a deal of Latin at recognition level, via the sciences and general reading, but didn't study it as a language at school. However, it's still worth a look even if you don't know Latin well).

And also, check out Paradigm ("Journal of the Textbook Colloquium - Where any, and every, aspect of textbooks is, or are, investigated"). This was a fairly short-lived journal - it only ran to some 40 issues - but its archive is a rich lode of interesting articles and papers that look at how social history has manifested through textbooks:

Textbooks, Schools and Society

For the social historian the school textbook is a junction where many lines of interest meet. Its author, often a quirky teacher of merely local repute, nevertheless expresses a wider range of prejudices and assumptions than just his own. He or she represents a popular, unsophisticated, but sometimes innovative view of knowledge and conduct, the dissemination of which is controlled by the commercial considerations of the printer-publisher, who in turn is responding to wider social and economic forces. The influences which form the textbook are more easily seen than those which the textbook sets in motion, but "it is in school texts that we find the best evidence not only for the importance and spread of ideas at a particular time but also for the accomodation of particular ideas to the core of intelligibility" (Murray Cohen, Sensible Words, 1977, p. 144). This evidence, however, has until recently been little studied. We still need to discover how much has survived and where it is located.

Ian Michael

A few examples of the content:

Fascinating stuff!

- Ray

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