[Milton-L] Milton-L Digest, Vol 67, Issue 10

Dave Harper dave.harper at utexas.edu
Mon Jun 18 17:53:37 EDT 2012


At USMA we have a long-standing tradition of requiring recitations in our Introduction to Literature courses. I usually began by having the entire section recite something I picked, then progressed to approving their selections for later recitations. I found 14-20 line selections worked best, and I always encouraged "performance." I've had students come in with props, wear costumes, and play guitar during recitations. The assignment not only reinforces their engagement with meter, but it very quickly demonstrates that to perform something well requires understanding it well. I've had former students report it was one of the most memorable (no pun intended) assignments from the course.

Dave



On Jun 18, 2012, at 11:00, milton-l-request at lists.richmond.edu wrote:

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> Today's Topics:
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>   1. Re: Memorized poetry (Stephen B Dobranski)
> 
> 
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> 
> Message: 1
> Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2012 15:48:20 +0000
> From: Stephen B Dobranski <sbdobranski at gsu.edu>
> To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Memorized poetry
> Message-ID: <CC04C068.514D%sbdobranski at gsu.edu>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
> 
> I'm late to this thread, but every semester I require all students in my upper-division courses to memorize and recite 50 lines of iambic pentameter from one or more of the assigned texts. I use this assignment with Milton, Shakespeare, Sixteenth-Century Lit., and Seventeenth-Century Lit.
> 
> Most students ultimately love the assignment; semesters later, they still come up to me and share some of their memorized lines. The students also tell me how they have ended up sharing the poetry with their roommates, friends, co-workers, fiances, and parents as they practiced their recitations.
> 
> One warning: scheduling the recitations every semester is a bit of a nightmare; each one which includes a follow-up oral exam takes about 30 minutes in my office.
> 
> One recitation highlight: last year, a student recited the opening 50 lines of Lycidas in the voice of Christopher Walken.
> 
> All the best,
> Stephen
> 
> From: Carrol Cox <cbcox at ilstu.edu<mailto:cbcox at ilstu.edu>>
> Reply-To: "milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
> Date: Friday, June 15, 2012 7:30 PM
> To: "milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Memorized poetry
> 
> What one memorizes in high school doesn?t necessarily remain with one. My speech teacher in h.s. arranged for a couple of us to ?entertain? some local music club. I had to memorize some rather long poem by Lowell (the old fart, not Robert). I don?t even remember the title of the poem or what it was about, yet I had it well memorized in 1946.
> 
> I did memorize quite a few fragments on my own, & they were useful in getting me through my first night in the polio ward. But I don?t remember now what they were.
> 
> Carrol
> 
> ________________________________
> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu> [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Michael Gillum
> Sent: Friday, June 15, 2012 11:03 AM
> To: John Milton Discussion List
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Memorized poetry
> 
> For decades I have been assigning memorization in course that include lyrics.
> 
> 1. I think it is important to allow students wide latitude in what to memorize, since the poems will be stuck in their heads forever. I ask for a poem or selection (from the syllabus) of 14-20 lines. Sometimes I specify iambic pentameter, because it's important that they learn to hear that particular music. I wouldn't specify Paradise Lost, because it is the hardest metrical verse to memorize, owing to the enjambments and long complicated sentences with moveable elements.
> 
> 2. Not in writing, but I repeatedly emphasize that to memorize language, you must repeat it out loud. (Some people will attempt useless tactics like writing it out.)
> 
> 3. I don't grade it, but assign full points for just getting through the poem. I allow second tries. I make a further deduction from their participation grade if they don't even attempt the assignment.
> 
> 4. It should be far enough into the course that students have had the chance to find that they like a poem. Most people can learn a sonnet in an hour or so.
> 
> 5. They recite privately in my office. Many kids are anxious enough even without a larger audience. However, I call on all students to read verse aloud and repeatedly during class. I coach the mumblers to try again, read big, don't isolate that enjambment, etc. I think speaking verse adequately should be a learning objective in courses that include poetry.
> 
> As to my experience as a student, I was asked to memorize in high school 50 years ago and can still say the verses. I was not asked to memorize in college.
> 
> On Thu, Jun 14, 2012 at 4:40 PM, Duran, Angelica A <duran0 at purdue.edu<mailto:duran0 at purdue.edu>> wrote:
> Dear scholars,
> 
> I am interested in finding out about the experiences you have had with
> either assigning or being assigned to memorize early modern British poetry,
> Milton or other.
> 
> I would appreciate it if you could respond off-list to any or all of these
> questions:
> ? What specific pomes did you memorize / do you assign?
> * were you given / do you give any written instructions in coordination with
> the assignment?
> ? were you given / do you give a grading rubric?
> ? was / is the assignment early or late in the term, or does it not matter
> for you?
> ? how did / does delivery of the recitation work? In class, in your office,
> at a public event?
> ? any neat or funny anecdotes?
> 
> I memorized poetry in high school and college, then have elected to memorize
> for my graduate qualifying exams and have memorized a 14-21 line snippet
> nearly every semester since becoming a faculty member 12 years ago. I assign
> memorization and recitation, usually with first recitations in class and
> final recitations at a low-key campus, public events. I'm considering
> extending the assignment to my graduate courses.
> 
> Many, thanks.
> 
> Adios,
> 
> Angelica Duran
> Associate Professor, English and Comparative Literature
> Director, Religious Studies Program
> Purdue University
> 500 Oval Drive / Heavilon Hall
> West Lafayette, Indiana 47907
> U.S.A.
> <duran0 at purdue.edu<mailto:duran0 at purdue.edu>>
> <http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/directory/index.cfm?personid=80>
> <http://www.cla.purdue.edu/religious-studies/>
> 
> 
> 
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> End of Milton-L Digest, Vol 67, Issue 10
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