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A glimpse at early printed college textbooks!

If you were a Renaissance university student, you’d need to write your compositions and give your presentations in Latin. But never fear, you would have had textbooks and other manuals available to help you with grammar and style. Think of these early printed books as the Renaissance equivalent to your copy of Strunk & White. But prettier.

This is one of Special Collections’ earliest printed books: an excerpt from St. Augustine’s De Doctrina Christiana on preaching. Very handy for students of theology (and graduates too). The book was printed by the successors to Johannes Gutenberg, Johann Fust & Peter Schoeffer.

Here’s an example of a Latin grammar textbook. It was printed by renowned Venetian printer Nicholas Jenson in 1475. BYU’s copy is still in its original binding with boards and clasps.

donatusjenson clasp

This is a copy of Lorenzo Valla’s Elegantiae, a Humanist’s handbook of Latin style and usage, printed in 1476. It has a very decorative initial on the first page and has been given chapter numbers by an early annotator.valla1valla2

And lastly, a copy of Quintilian’s Institutiones oratoriae printed by another famous Venetian printer, Aldus Manutius. This is a classical Latin textbook on rhetoric.


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