[Milton-L] memorizing, dates and passages

Jameela Lares jlares at ocean.otr.usm.edu
Mon Feb 23 11:28:02 EST 2004

To some extent I understand James Dougal Fleming's concern that memorizing
dates and passages is belletristic, but I must still say "Au contraire."  
Our students typically have so little sense of history--at least in
America; maybe it's different in Canada--that a date or two ain't a bad
idea.  I don't ask student to attach a date to a work, but that pedagogy
at least suggests to students that an author's oeuvre proceeds in stages.  
I myself reannounce Milton's birth/death dates at odd intervals and have
them report orally on a text by another author written during Milton's
lifetime--on microfilm, or now the EEBO.  We have reports on theological
treatises, cook books, diatribes against monarchy, you name it.  One
student even engaged in a long and illuminating search for a text that
didn't mention God.  The students seem to enjoy getting a sense of a
different century as an interlocking system of differences from now.

As far as memorizing passages, hot diggity! I'm going to try it.  We did 
lots of that when I was in high school, and if we have to remediate now, 
so be it.  

What animates a successful pedagogy, in my experience, is the instructor's 
rationale and engagement.  As my mentor wisely told me (or quoted someone 
else as saying), "Everything works in teaching, and nothing works."


Jameela Lares
Associate Professor of English
Univ. of So. Mississippi
118 College Drive #5037
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001
+601 266-6214

More information about the Milton-L mailing list