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Glossary of Literary Theory
by Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown


A man-centered rather than a god-centered view of the universe. In the Renaissance, Humanism devoted itself to the revival of classical culture: the life, thought, language, and literature of ancient Greece and Rome. A reaction against the divine concerns of medieval Scholasticism and Aestheticism, Humanism orients itself toward secular concerns and applies classical ideas to theology, church reform, government, literature, criticism, and education. In literature the main virtues are seen to be restraint, form, and imitation of the classics, the ultimate authorities being Aristotle and Horace. (See also Christian humanism, New humanism.)

© Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown,
University of Toronto
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University of Toronto English Library
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Last modified: March 31, 1997