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Journal > Volumes > 34 (2003) / 4 (Winter)
After Nebrija: Academic Reformers and the Teaching of Latin in Sixteenth-Century Salamanca
Katherine Elliot van Here
Calvin College

Humanism in sixteenth-century Salamanca has been assessed in strikingly contrasting ways. From one point of view, the careers of academics like Antonio de Nebrija seem to indicate a "humanist revolution" in Spain's leading university. From a more pessimistic perspective, intellectual life appears to have been irreparably stifled by church and crown. This investigation seeks a plausible alternative to these conventional narratives, without resorting to the simplistic expedient of blaming Counter-Reformation repression for the decline of Renaissance values. A documentary study of the attempts to reform Salamanca's grammar curriculum reveals repeated, energetic efforts to improve the teaching of Latin grammar in the University of Salamanca along humanist lines. The champions of these efforts were a diverse collection of bureaucrats, clergymen, teachers, and students. The failure of their attempts was due not to ideological hostility or external repression, but to such perennial forces as bureaucratic inertia, economic hardship, and student careerism.

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