Monday, June 16, 2008

Summer Latin and Paleography at ND

Tomorrow is the start of our summer semester at Notre Dame and we have the pleasure of welcoming Frank Mantello, from Catholic University of America, as a visiting professor. This is the twelfth summer that Frank has taught Medieval Latin and Paleography courses in our program. Many of our Medieval Institute graduate students have studied with Frank over the years and they prize their experience in "Latin bootcamp." It's no lie to say that he has "written the book" on medieval Latin; he is coeditor of Medieval Latin: An Introduction and Bibliographical Guide.

Students from around the country come to Notre Dame for the opportunity to take courses that often are not available at their home institutions. Thanks to the generosity of the Medieval Academy's Committe on Centers and Regional Associates (CARA) scholarships, we can fund the tuition of two student members of the Medieval Academy who enroll in either Medieval Latin or Paleography. Our summer program web site ( gives information on the application process.

One of my personal delights is being part of an enterprise that encourages scholarship because it is intrinsically valuable to human society, rather than questions whether it meets a cost-benefit definition of contemporary relevance or practical utility. I really believe in and value this element of the liberal arts tradition. I remember having a rather unpleasant conversation as an undergraduate college student with a well-meaning engineer uncle who wanted to know what I planned to "do" with my history degree. Luckily, my parents never took up this same conversational strand. At this stage of my career, I would probably be a lot better equipped (and a lot more confident in my position) to argue for the validity of my choice of a major. (At least I hope I would be.) I've never regretted that choice of a major, even though virtually all of my professional career has been spent in non-academic editing and marketing communications for institutions of higher education.

So, three cheers for medieval Latin and paleography (and their students and teachers)! Long may you prosper.

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