Performing Grammar

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Performing Grammar

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Title: Performing Grammar
Author: Ziolkowski, Jan M.
Citation: Ziolkowski, Jan M. 2009. “Performing Grammar.” New Medieval Literatures 11 (January): 159–176. doi:10.1484/j.nml.1.00588.
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Abstract: Grammar and the schoolrooms in which it was studied were foundational in many branches of literary life throughout the Middle Ages. Although this generalization has relevance to arts and letters in most languages that were written during the period, it applies most completely to medieval Latin literature. After all, the ineluctable prerequisite of self-expression in medieval Latin was knowledge of a language that tended to be learned not at a mother’s knees but mainly at a schoolmaster’s feet. The medieval grammar school was first and foremost a school of Latin grammar, since until the late Middle Ages basic skills in reading and writing — even in the vernacular tongues — were attained after first acquiring at least a rudimentary ability to speak, read, and write Latin.
The methods by which such capacities were achieved look very stable, perhaps deceptively so, across the thousand-year expanse that runs from late antiquity until the Renaissance and that coincides with the heyday of the manuscript codex as the preeminent medium for the preservation of texts and knowledge.
Published Version: doi:10.1484/J.NML.1.00588
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