Stream of consciousness again...
Here are the notes I wrote in the margins for this reading by Naomi Baron and the corresponding quotes:
"Style in penmanship was also used to differentiate among the highly literate. In the seventeenth century, while a gentleman's private amanuensis generally wrote in "secretary hand (that is, the older Gothic script), gentlemen themselves were likely to use the newer Italic humanist hand. More generally in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, 'a fully literate stranger could evaluate the social significance of a letter--from a male? a female? a gentleman? a clerk?--simply by noting what hand it had been written in.'"
I found this fascinating. Not because of the sheer fact that people could be identified by their handwriting--I know my mother and father's handwriting instantly when I see it--but the fact that the social class of the writer could be determined by the type of handwriting they used. Today, there are two basic types of writing for most Americans: printing and cursive. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, there were numerous ornate forms of both printing and cursive such as Roman, Old English, Round Hand, and Square Text to name a few. I can relate to this because personally I am good at determining gender when I look at handwriting, as I'm sure a lot of us are. Girls tend to write more in cursive, and their printing is usually more flowery and round looking aside from being generally more legible than male handwriting.
"By the nineteenth century, many people firmly believed not only that every person's handwriting was unique, but that handwriting was "an unfailing index of...character, moral and mental, and a criterion by which to judge of...peculiarities of taste and sentiment."
I'm wondering, then, if the distinct styles used by the different social classes became moot. Or, was the uniqueness adapted to the varying styles of writing? Were the different styles still recognizable in this time, or was it just generally accepted that each person wrote in their own manner as long as the letters were legible and identifiable? I discovered as I read on that the uniqueness in writing in the nineteenth century was the fact that any style of writing was now acceptable for any class rank.
"'The letters should be analyzed and studied until the pupil can shut his eyes and see a perfectly formed letter on his eye-lids.' ...Such lessons in conformity proved useful not just in instilling handwriting skills but in disciplining the American student body..."
What constituted a perfectly formed letter according to Spencer's method? I find Spencer's method to be a bit overkill, but I do think it was necessary in order to form a standard of modern writing. And I was right...
Continued from page 59:
"In mechanically based skills (from multiplication tables to the correct stroke order in forming Chinese characters), lack of practice of slack standards tend to make for poor performance."
Posted by StormyKnight at February 18, 2008 5:52 PM