[Milton-L] Memorized poetry
shannon.reed at gmail.com
Tue Jun 19 23:07:40 EDT 2012
I apologize for responding late, but thought I'd share one more variation.
When I teach the Milton course here, I ask students to memorize passages
of PL. I pre-select passages of approximately 20 lines, and write up a
brief summary of the context. Early in the class, students choose the
lines they want to memorize, and then recite them when the class gets to
that passage as part of the assigned reading. The students also hand in a
close textual analysis of their lines on the day they recite and lead off
discussion using their performance and their paper. The two assignments
(recitation and paper) are tied together--each is supposed to help inform
I use a rubric (which I share at the beginning of class) for both
performance and paper. I begin the first day of class by reciting the
invocation from book I.
I've used this a few times and have found it to be fairly successful. Some
of the students seem to begin to understand the rhythm and meaning of the
lines when they have to think about how they should say the lines.
Associate Professor of English,
Chair, Department of English and Creative Writing
On Monday, June 18, 2012, Stephen B Dobranski wrote:
> 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,
> 'cbcox at ilstu.edu');>>
> Date: Friday, June 15, 2012 7:30 PM
> 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.
> *From:* 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
> 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 reci
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