Rhetoric and Pedagogy: Its History, Philosophy, and Practice: Essays in Honor of James J. Murphy

By Winifred Bryan Horner; Michael Leff | Go to book overview

Chapter 13
International Humanism

Kees Meerhoff
University of Amsterdam

Inter nos colemus amicitiam et ex literis et in literis vivemus suaviter.

J. Sturm, 1565

The title of this chapter is a tautology. But some things, though self-evident in principle, need to be said time and again: The essential feature of humanism has been its crossing of national boundaries, a crossing facilitated by an international language, a refined Latin. There has been no conflict between the transnational nature of humanist communication and nationally defined local interests; on the contrary, one observes a constant fertilization of national grounds by international thought and practice. This is precisely what was called culture, the enrichment of local artistic practice, of locally rooted philosophy and literature, by the Greek, Latin, and Hebrew monuments of artistic and linguistic communication, both of the past and of the contemporary period. Thus, the foundation of the Collegium Trilingue in Louvain and the creation of the Collège des Lecteurs Royaux in Paris have been landmarks in the national cultures of the Low Countries, of France and of the surrounding countries, which were all more or less in the process of becoming, often for the first time in their history, a national unity proud of their difference. The example that comes to mind immediately is the Pléiade, a group of poets who played a major part in the development of national French culture. The education they received in Parisian colleges like the Collège de Coqueret and the Collège de Boncourt was exclusively classical; hardly any attention was paid to the contemporary vernacular culture. And yet it was Jean Dorat, the learned headmaster of Conqueret, who opened the famous manifesto

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