[Milton-L] memorizing dates

spender at uwindsor.ca spender at uwindsor.ca
Fri Feb 20 20:14:21 EST 2004

An exercise I am going to repeat in two classes next year, both on early
modern poetry, prose, and intellectual history, enlists memorisation.  I
ask students to 'Iive with' a text for a term.  I cull, say, twenty poems
[the first time around, last year, these were short pieces by Sidney,
Raleigh, Marlowe, Greville] and distribute them randomly to class [in this
case, sixty students in a c16 survey course, which lasted one term] and
specify that students should [1] memorise the poem in order to recite in
front of class [which made for pleasant breaks in a three-hour, evening
session]; [2] write a short, three-page paper on its prosody [using
Gascoigne and Puttenham as guides]; and [3] write another short, three-page
paper attempting to relate figure to ground, text to context, in some way
[biography, historical or literary milieu, Renaissance habits of thought,
etc.].  At first, the class was daunted; by the end of term, students were
delighted to have some ballast in the midst of a broad survey.   I should
say, then, that I think it worked.


Dr. Stephen Pender, English
University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada N9B 3P4
t: 519.253.3000 [2307] f: 519.971.3676 e: spender at uwindsor.ca
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