[Milton-L] memorization

Carol Barton cbartonphd at earthlink.net
Thu Feb 26 15:19:25 EST 2004

Elizabeth Skerpan-Wheeler quite rightly reminds us "that memory is the
fourth of the five parts of classical rhetoric. Throughout the Middle Ages
until into the seventeenth century, the art of memory was actively studied
and taught. . . . The art of memory was never an end in itself, and it
certainly was not rote memory.
 Recitation isn't either."

Since she did so, I will remind us, also, that a certain blind poet wrote
10,668 lines of the most incredibly self-referential poetry I have ever
encountered . . . and was only able to do so because he had effectively
memorized his own work! (Please take a look at the matrix on i-EMLS, at
http://www.shu.ac.uk/emls/iemls/work/MiltonMatrix.html,  if you doubt this.)

Maybe the use of allusions in the classroom wouldn't be going the way of the
stegosaurus if more students were encouraged to fill their heads with
something other than rap lyrics and baseball stats.

Best to all,

Carol Barton

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