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Vältalighet och mannafostran: retorikutbildningen i svenska skolor och gymnasier 1724-1807
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.
2011 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Virtuous eloquence : rhetoric education in Swedish schools and gymnasiums 1724–1807 (English)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this dissertation is to explore the connections between rhetoric and civic and moral education. In the Latin schools (trivial schools, cathedral schools, and gymnasiums) in eighteenth-century Sweden, rhetoric still had a prominent position. In examining school rhetoric under the Swedish School Act of 1724, the study takes on rhetoric education in the broad sense, asking questions about teaching design and content, and about which texts were read and written. In addition to this, the dissertation discusses the moral content of the education as well as the function of the texts and exercises of rhetoric education in character and identity formation. The study also demonstrates the practices of rhetoric in schools and gymnasiums. Everyday classroom activities as well as ceremonies and festivities are treated as arenas for the display of erudition, asking questions about eloquence as a possible catalyst for the raising of schoolboys into men and citizens.

Drawing from curriculum history, the investigation focuses on the content of the education. The analytical framework regards educational content as multilayered, ranging from conceptual content to content related to school subjects, syllabi and educational programmes, and further to socialisation content. Therefore a number of theoretical and methodological perspectives have to be employed in order to analyse a multitude of sources: from textbooks and records from schools to written curricula.

The curriculum history foundation is therefore supplemented by theoretical inspiration from among other things the sociology of education and the sociology of literature, from the history of rhetoric and from gender history. The concept of virtue is given a special role in the construction of civic ideals and masculinities, two important aspects of an erudite identity cultivated in the early modern Latin schools.

The dissertation shows that during the long period of time that the Swedish School Act of 1724 was effective – a total of 83 years, until 1807 – school rhetoric changed very little, and the changes that took place did so only slowly. A number of factors explain this rigidity. The same textbook,

Elementa rhetorica by Gerardus Johannis Vossius, was used used in Swedish schools throughout the entire period studied. A shortage of textbooks led to older copies being used, and to a manual reproduction of textbooks and educational content.A canon or publica materies of classical, especially Latin, texts connected the branches of the trivium. It also worked as a common resource, read throughout the school: from fables and the short texts of compendia used in the first forms of the trivial schools to the philosophical and literary works used in the gymnasiums. The proximity between school rhetoric and the exemplary classical texts offers a further explanatory factor for the slow changes of 18th century rhetoric education.

The rhetoric education in schools and gymnasiums appears as one of the most distinct illustrations of the early modern Swedish school's twofold objective to transmit knowledge and instill virtue. The rhetorical pedagogical programme was not just about the arts and crafts of linguistic ornaments. School rhetoric had an even larger aim, combining knowledge and virtue into the training of an orator. Through the reading of the exemplary texts and the moral lessons taught by them, and through pupils' own co-creation and rhetorical (re)production, a classical, medieval, Renaissance and Reformation legacy was passed on. In this legacy, the aim was virtuous eloquence.

The learned world in and around schools and gymnasiums can be considered a premodern or early modern public sphere, filled with rhetorical ceremonials as a display of erudition and scholarly status. At the school level rhetoric was a representative resource that could justify the position of the scholarly community and the clergy, demonstrate the standing of the school and the church site in the city, and distinguish the learned from members of other social groups. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Stefan Rimm , 2011. , 349 p.
Örebro Studies in Education, ISSN 1404-9570 ; 32
Keyword [en]
history of education, history of rhetoric, curriculum history, curriculum studies, rhetoric instruction, school rhetoric, trivium, virtue, citizenship, masculinities, gender history
Keyword [sv]
utbildningshistoria, retorikhistoria, läroplanshistoria, läroplansteori, retorikundervisning, skolretorik, trivium, dygd, medborgarskap, maskuliniteter, genushistoria
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-17326ISBN: 978-91-7668-823-6OAI: diva2:442986
Public defence
2011-12-09, Örebro universitet, Prismahuset, sal P2, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2011-09-23 Created: 2011-09-23 Last updated: 2011-11-11Bibliographically approved

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