NYT: Latin perhaps just behind Spanish and French in schools, relevant to Election ’08

OK, maybe world markets are collapsing. But the New York Times had one piece of good news to report this past week, namely that Latin enrollments in the secondary schools are through the roof nationally. See the article (7 October 2008) here.

Reverse of denarius (63 BC) of L. Cassius Longinus, celebrating the secret ballot

Lots of great quotes in the NYT article, and here’s just one: “Marty Abbott, education director of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, said it was possible that Latin would edge out German as the third most popular language taught in schools, behind Spanish and French, when the preliminary results of an enrollment survey are released next year. In the last survey, covering enrollment in 2000, Latin placed fourth.”

At one point in the week of 6 October, the NYT website noted this article on Latin as the second most emailed of all its content.

For a reaction, who better at Rutgers to ask than Ryan Barton ’09?

Ryan has won the Cornelison Prize—a Latin prize awarded by competitive exam to the best Classics student enrolled in Rutgers’ Douglass College—an astounding three years in a row, starting as a freshman.

“I was very excited to hear see this in print finally,”, Ryan told the Rutgers Classics blog, “since I’ve been hearing about this a lot lately. It makes me feel proud to know that my passion is being rekindled and shared by younger children. Obviously it creates a bigger job market for someone with a Latin degree, but it’s more exciting for me because Latin and classics are so incredibly important and relevant to modern learning and have been underappreciated for the last 30 some years.”

Yes, the NYT article had a lot to say about that. “Now with more interest being generated,” concludes Ryan, “I’m on the cusp of what I hope will be a renaissance of sorts for Latin, which is especially titillating as I intend to teach Latin after I graduate.”

And then, lo and behold, NYT Op-Ed columnist Maureen Dowd on 12 October decides to offer more than half of her latest 800 word essay on the ’08 electoral campaign in Latin, and for help in translation, calls on Gary Farney, associate professor of History at Rutgers-Newark. Gary is the 2006 winner of the University College-Newark Alumni Association Henry J. Browne Teaching Excellence Award, and a member of the New Brunswick Classics graduate faculty.

Gary came to Rutgers-Newark as a superbly trained classicist and ancient historian: Indiana B.A., Bryn Mawr M.A. and Ph.D., study at the American Numismatic Society seminar, and winner of both the Rome Prize in Ancient Studies to the American Academy in Rome and the Broneer Prize to the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

In 2007 Gary Farney published an unusually stimulating new book with Cambridge University Press on aspects of Italian ethnicity in the Roman Republic, Ethnic Identity and Aristocratic Competition in Republican Rome.

For the past five years Gary has been the Director of the enormously successful Rutgers Summer in Greece Program. And this December Gary takes over as the Director of the Ancient and Medieval Civilizations major at Newark.

It’s a delight and a privilege to count Gary as one of the members of the Rutgers Classics community.

Got Latin? The Ruth Adams Building—once known as Recitation Hall—houses Rutgers Classics on the New Brunswick Douglass Campus. From the amazing collection of Rutgersiana at http://kenlew.com/collections/

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