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A Dutch Student in Colonial Boston: The Then and Now of a Classical Humanities Education


This lecture closely examines the fine-grained practice of a classical humanities education at seventeenth-century Boston Latin School.

Focusing on a young Dutch immigrant of the time, we are able to see how early modern schoolboy and schoolmaster could adapt classical authors and plots, even about prostitutes and slaves, to both pious and practical ends. And even if one graduated dead last in his college class (as our Dutch boy in question so did), the goal – then as now – for many students was never to become a true Latin scholar. The practices of reading and notetaking built into a Latin education instilled skillsets more so than any individual mindset.


Theodore R. Delwiche Theodore R. Delwiche's work focuses on the history of education, history of the book, and the reception of the classics in colonial New England with a particular emphasis on student practices. His research has appeared in a variety of journals, including those on colonial American history, the history of universities, and early modern history more broadly.
Last modified:18 July 2019 11.08 a.m.