Monday, September 3, 2007

Progymnasmata on my own?

I recently asked about this at the High School Well Trained Mind Boards and got a couple of recommendations for books. Composition in the Classical Tradition by Frank J. D'Angelo was the first to arrive through inter-library loan. After reading this book and taking a notebook full of notes on the hows of classical writing, I think that we can do this curriculum free.

First a caution--I would not hand this book to my child and say go learn the progymnasmata way of writing. This book is written to teach law students to write and there are examples that are quite graphic.

But Frank D'Angelo does an excellent job of explaining the twelve steps of the progymnasmata and how to implement each step. He also defines terms as they relate to this type of composition and gives you outlines of how to arrange your writing. There are many examples and he goes through the steps and there are also exercises for you to do on your own.

Now you are wondering what is the Progymnasmata?

It is exercises in writing and is basically the Greek way of teaching Composition and Rhetoric.

What are the twelve steps?

You will find the lists in various orders but D'Angelo has them arranged as:

1. Narrative
2. Description
3. Fable
4. Proverb
5. Anecdote
6. Refutation/Confirmation
7. Commonplace
8. Praising and Blaming
9. Comparison
10. Speech-in-Character
11. Thesis
12. For and Against Laws

As I went through this book I can clearly see that this will not only help scholarly or non-fiction writing but with creative writing as well. The study of description and character can really help with the development of good plays and fiction.

This is an excellent resource and if it was not so costly, I would definitely buy a copy for our homeschool.

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