An Ancient Master Teacher Speaks to the Modern World


James “Jerry” Murphy (UC Davis)

An Ancient Master Teacher Speaks to the Modern World:

Quintilian’s Institutio oratoria (CE 95)

Wed. Jan. 25 @ 4.10pm (912 Sproul Hall)

Quintilian’s major work, the longest educational/rhetorical text of the ancient world, embeds in in its twelve books a

comprehensive plan for the lifelong education of the Perfect Orator, the “Good Man Speaking Well” (vir bonus dicendi

peritus). He combines the five main principles of Roman rhetoric with a sophisticated pedagogical program which still has relevance today.  At the same he lays out some precepts of civic virtue which have been influential for nearly two millennia. Revisiting this work will help address several questions: Is writer’s block a modern invention? Can memory be strengthened by exercise? Do adults learn the same way children do? Please join us as Prof. Murphy discusses these issues with Quintilian as his guide.


      JAMES  J. “JERRY” MURPHY is Professor Emeritus of English and of Rhetoric and Communication at the University of California, Davis. His primary interest is in the history of language use. In addition to medieval English literature, his research lies in the history of rhetoric in the ancient, medieval, and Renaissance periods, as well as the history of the pedagogy of language use including writing.  He is the author of 75 journal articles and book chapters, including Rhetoric in the Middle Ages(1974, 2001), Medieval Eloquence (ed., 1978); Renaissance Eloquence(ed., 1983), and (with Richard Katula and Michael Hoppman) A Synoptic History of Classical Rhetoric (fourth ed., 2013). He is currently co-editor (with Marc van der Poel of Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands and Mike Edwards of Roehampton University, London) of The Oxford Handbook of Quintilian, scheduled for  publication in 2018. He is a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of  America, a Distinguished Scholar in the National Communication Association, a Fellow of the Rhetoric Society of America, and Chevalier dans l”Ordre des Palmes Academiques (France). He has been awarded the Papal medal, Benemerenti.

All are welcome!