There has been a surge of scholarly interest lately in the progymnasmata, those ordered exercises in composition that played such an important role in rhetorical education from antiquity to the Renaissance. Comprising an integrated program in literary, civic, and moral effectiveness, they offer a compelling alternative to language arts pedagogy today, which seems too often driven by the goal of “college and career readiness.” But to be truly useful as a pedagogical model, the progymnasmata need to be embedded in something like the comprehensive educational philosophy of Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria.

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