Ancient Literacies: The Culture of Reading in Greece and Rome

Ancient Literacies: The Culture of Reading in Greece and Rome

Hardback

Edited by William A. Johnson, Edited by Holt N. Parker

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 448 pages
  • Dimensions: 164mm x 240mm x 33mm | 781g
  • Publication date: 12 February 2009
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0195340159
  • ISBN 13: 9780195340150
  • Illustrations note: 23 black and white halftone, 5 line illustrations
  • Sales rank: 1,005,319

Product description

Classicists have been slow to take advantage of the important advances in the way that literacy is viewed in other disciplines (including in particular cognitive psychology, socio-linguistics, and socio-anthropology). On the other hand, historians of literacy continue to rely on outdated work by classicists (mostly from the 1960's and 1970's) and have little access to the current reexamination of the ancient evidence. This timely volume attempts to formulate new interesting ways of talking about the entire concept of literacy in the ancient world-literacy not in the sense of whether 10% or 30% of people in the ancient world could read or write, but in the sense of text-oriented events embedded in a particular socio-cultural context. The volume is intended as a forum in which selected leading scholars rethink from the ground up how students of classical antiquity might best approach the question of literacy in the past, and how that investigation might materially intersect with changes in the way that literacy is now viewed in other disciplines. The result will give readers new ways of thinking about specific elements of "literacy" in antiquity, such as the nature of personal libraries, or what it means to be a bookseller in antiquity; new constructionist questions, such as what constitutes reading communities and how they fashion themselves; new takes on the public sphere, such as how literacy intersects with commercialism, or with the use of public spaces, or with the construction of civic identity; new essentialist questions, such as what "book" and "reading" signify in antiquity, why literate cultures develop, or why literate cultures matter. The book derives from a conference (a Semple Symposium held in Cincinnati in April 2006) and includes new work from the most outstanding scholars of literacy in antiquity (e.g., Simon Goldhill, Joseph Farrell, Peter White, and Rosalind Thomas).

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Author information

William A. Johnson is Associate Professor of Classics, University of Cincinnati. Holt Parker is Associate Professor of Classics, University of Cincinnati.

Review quote

contains many fascinating contributions... many of the chapters include attractive figures, drawings, photographs, and diagrams. Curtis Dozier, Bryn Mawr Classical Review Lest we neglect the obvious reflexivity of a book about books, editors and press should be commended for excellent production, proofreading, and indices and bibliography. The book as an artifact more than lives up to its value as text. And any scholar of ancient texts with a glimmer of interest in context will find something of use within. Joseph Howley, Journal of Roman Studies

Table of contents

List of Illustrations ; Abbreviations ; List of Contributors ; 1. Introduction ; PART I SITUATING LITERACIES ; 2. Writing, Reading, Public and Private "Literacies": Functional Literacy and Democratic Literacy in Greece ; 3. Literacy or Literacies in Ancient Rome? ; 4. Reading, Hearing, and Looking at Ephesos ; 5. The Anecdote: Exploring the Boundaries between Oral and Literate Performance in the Second Sophistic ; 6. Situating Literacy at Rome ; PART II BOOKS AND TEXTS ; 7. The Corrupted Boy and the Crowned Poet or the Material Reality and the Symbolic Status of the Literary Book at Rome ; 8. The Impermanent Text in Catullus and Other Roman Poets ; 9. Books and Reading Latin Poetry ; PART III INSTITUTIONS AND COMMUNITIES ; 10. Papyrological Evidence for Book Collections and Libraries in the Roman Empire ; 11. Bookshops in the Literary Culture of Rome ; 12. Literary Literacy in Roman Pompeii: the Case of Virgil's Aeneid ; 13. Constructing Elite Reading Communities in the High Empire ; PART IV BIBLIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY ; 14. Literacy Studies in Classics: The Last Twenty Years ; PART V EPILOGUE ; 15. Why Literacy Matters, Then and Now (May 30, 2006) ; Index locorum ; General Index