Daum’s boys

Schools and the Republic of Letters in early modern Germany

Author: Alan S. Ross

In the majority of German towns, access to learned culture was provided not through universities, academies or princely courts, but through Latin schools, the German equivalent to English grammar schools. This book is the first in-depth study of a footsoldier of the seventeenth-century German Republic of Letters. Its subject, the polymath and schoolteacher Christian Daum established himself as a scholar by focusing on how he convinced others that he was one. He did so through his dress, the way he conducted his married life and the ideal of scholarship to which he ascribed. Schools in the German culture, were focal points of Lutheran learning outside of universities and courts, as places not just of education but of intense scholarship. The most influential paradigm concerning German education remains Gerald Strauss' concept of an 'indoctrination of the young', where he argued that reformers had been able to restructure Lutheran schooling to suit their doctrinal purposes. In the seventeenth century, the Lutheran territories of the Holy Roman Empire saw a flood of publications on pedagogical method and matters of education in general. The book examines the changes that the Zwickau curriculum underwent in the seventeenth century. Anthony La Vopa's seminal study on poor students and clerical careers in eighteenth-century Germany raised important questions on social mobility through education. Christian Daum's network of correspondents was an instrument for maintaining and expanding his position within the Respublica litteraria. Teacher-scholars like Daum expressed a sense of mission towards the cause of humanist education and scholarship.

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‘[A work] that is as concise as it is gripping ... its main qualities: the richness of the archival records and the approach chosen by the author, the ambitious scope of the questions addressed and, finally, the book's great interest not only for the history of education but also for the history of the Republic of Letters and that of the Holy Roman Empire.'
Sebastien Schick
Annales Histoire Sciences sociales

‘Ross has made wonderful use of the rich archival records and library left by Christian Daum to paint a detailed picture of early modern schooling and scholarship, and the links between them, in German-speaking Protestant Europe. He effectively traces the connections across civic, educational and scholarly communities within and beyond Zwickau. The charts, maps and photographs in this book, depicting subjects ranging from enrolment trends to early modern graffiti, effectively complement Ross' smoothly written analysis.'
Valentina Tikoff, DePaul University, Illinois, USA
European History Quarterly, Vol. 47, No. 3

‘Ross's book is a most welcome contribution to the early modern history of scholarship in Germany. Numerous histories of individual schools exist but – as far as I know – few are recent and none is as richly detailed or as engaging as this one. I think and hope it will inspire comparative research into other German schools of the same period and thus increase our understanding of their importance in the history of European culture.'
Anna Carrdus
WBN 42
December 2015

‘A rich and skillfully-drafted study'
Willem Frijhoff
Francia-Recensio

‘A treasury of local documents and assiduous research.'
Paul F. Grendler
Renaissance Quarterly
September 2016

‘Daum's boys" is a thoroughly-researched study and a comprehensive success all around ... It is an important contribution to the history of early modern education. Ross has cleared a path which will hopefully be followed by future historians ...'
Alexander Winkler
H-Soz-Kult

‘If only we had more such studies as this.'
Dirk van Miert
History of Humanities
November 2016

‘This is an important study ... immensely enriching.'
Richard Kirwan, University of Limerick
Journal of the History of Education Society

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