Debates continue to rage over whether American university students should be required to master a common core of knowledge. In The Culture of Classicism: Ancient Greece and Rome in American Intellectual Life, 1780-1910, Caroline Winterer traces the emergence of the classical model that became standard in the American curriculum in the nineteenth century and now lies at the core of contemporary controversies. By closely examining university curricula and the writings of classical scholars, Winterer demonstrates how classics was transformed from a narrow, language-based subject to a broader study of civilization, persuasively arguing that we cannot understand both the rise of the American university and modern notions of selfhood and knowledge without an appreciation for the role of classicism in their creation.
Caroline Winterer is an assistant professor at Stanford University. She is also the author of the book, The Mirror of Antiquity: American Women and the Classical Tradition,1750-1900 (Cornell University Press, 2007).