Although it is often assumed that the study of human group life as “something in the making” is a product of the more distinctive emphasis of 20th century American pragmatist scholarship, the roots of the analysis of the social construction of activity run much deeper.
Whereas poetics (i.e., fiction) represents only one arena in which earlier scholars have more explicitly addressed the matters of human knowing and acting, Horace, Longinus, and Plutarch, three authors from the classical Roman era (c. 200 BCE-500 CE) contribute notably to an understanding of the ways in which people accomplish activity. While Horace and Longinus focus primarily on the production of poetic texts, Plutarch addresses the matter of reading, comprehending, and utilizing fictional materials within instructional contexts.
The texts of Horace, Longinus, and Plutarch are generally valued for the insight that they cast on the Roman and Greek life-worlds in the classical Roman era, but they also assume considerable importance as detailed reference materials for developing a more informed, comparative (i.e., transhistorical) analysis of the study of human knowing and acting in contemporary contexts.
Because of the particular subject matter they address, their extended levels of involvements in the communication process and their detailed analysis of people's roles as authors, instructors, and readers, Horace, Longinus, and Plutarch provide much valuable insight in the production and use of written texts. Moreover, given their associated attentiveness to the matters of authenticity and misrepresentation, persuasion and intrigue, and interpretation and inference, these statements should have considerable value to a wide range of scholars and educators.
Prus, R. (2008), "Producing, consuming, and providing instruction on poetic texts in the classical roman era: the pragmatist contributions of Horace, Longinus, and Plutarch", Denzin, N.K. (Ed.) Studies in Symbolic Interaction (Studies in Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 30), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 81-103. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0163-2396(08)30006-4
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