Shifting Paradigms: Ideas, Materiality and the Changing Shape of Grammar in the Renaissance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


What is the meaning of historical changes to the visualisation of knowledge? This article examines the long history of the Latin grammar from antiquity until early modernity and traces shifts in graphics through hundreds of manuscripts and printed books. It shows how the table--today the most common means for representation of grammatical paradigms--only became a common feature of grammar books in the Renaissance. To account for this visual change requires teasing apart the effects of intellectual from material factors on one of the most basic branches of knowledge and learning. It brings to the fore educational practices which are often unnoticed by scholars and shows how humanism, paper and print interacted in forming a new learning experience. Following the evolution of one schoolbook genre throughout a millennium and a half, the articles challenges some of our notions regarding transmission of ideas and entails some important methodological lessons about dealing with visualisations in scientific texts more generally. Above all, it underscores the importance of cognitive considerations in shaping epistemic genres and whole fields of knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • Grammar
  • Renaissance
  • Textbooks
  • Visualization
  • Humanism
  • Posthumanism
  • Mental representation


Dive into the research topics of 'Shifting Paradigms: Ideas, Materiality and the Changing Shape of Grammar in the Renaissance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this