[Milton-L] memorization

Paula Loscocco ploscocco at slc.edu
Mon Feb 23 19:21:17 EST 2004

I don't always make my students memorize passages, but model & encourage
them to do so, and I do make them do "dramatic readings" of scenes in
*PL*, which almost always results in spontaneous memorization.  (The most
compelling example was the year two members of the football team took on
the Michael-Satan confrontation in the War in Heaven, doing so by pounding
their way down the hallway outside the classroom like ... hell broken
loose, turning on Wagnerian opera at a place that perfectly matched the
pacing of their lines, putting one muscled chest right up against the
other, and fiercely, ragefully, loudly reciting their lines at each

I used to do a yearly marathon reading of *PL* with my Milton class each
spring, and had the tremendous pleasure of having a then-graduate student,
the talented Douglas Pfeifer, volunteer to begin the marathon by reciting
all of Book I by heart.  (He offered to do other books.)  His performance
was mind-altering for many of my students.

I could go on, but that's probably enough.  Also, am I right in thinking
that our discussion about the pros & cons of ("rote") memorization are
uncannily kin to set-form debates in the 17th century?

Respectfully, Paula Loscocco

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