The study of a classical language such as Latin gives students access to another ‘world view’, broadening their ability to make sense of present day society, according to the first Charles Tesoriero Lecturer in Latin at the University of New England.
Dr Randall Pogorzelski, who recently arrived at UNE from the University of California (Irvine), said Latin helped students to develop breadth of mind and see the world differently.
‘Each language has its own way of looking at the world but a classical language is very different in outlook, as well as structure, to our modern way of thinking – so learning it requires you to open your mind in a different way.
‘Latin helps you do this because, in learning the language, you are also learning a literature, a culture, and a world view.
‘The ancient world as a whole might be remote but Greece and Rome are familiar to us. Learning about them through their language is learning about ourselves. The role of Latin in influencing our culture and history is an important part of what makes it so interesting.’
While there was a time everyone had to study Latin for a university education, Dr Pogorzelski said he was not convinced all students should do so but that ‘it would really be a shame if they didn’t have that opportunity.’
Dr Pogorzelski said that UNE’s support in establishing the Lectureship was not only due to Charles Tesoriero’s passion but the recognition that, for a University which strives to be a comprehensive institution for higher education, Latin language and literature can play an important role.
However, for this to happen, it was important to be an engaged and charismatic teacher. ‘My understanding is that Charles Tesoriero, whose generosity endowed this position, was great at this – he made students love learning Latin. Similarly, my own teachers inspired me to stay with Latin, despite my initial career interest in mathematics. So I’m really pleased to have the opportunity to show students that, even if Latin is not for everyone, it’s very worthwhile for some people.’
Acknowledging the appeal of Armidale as a University town, Dr Pogorzelski added that he liked the way the University and town were important to each other. ‘Since arriving I have already seen in the newspaper a letter from someone curious about the University’s Latin motto,’ Dr Pogorzelski said. ‘Hopefully, I can be part of this healthy and productive relationship.’