[Milton-L] response to Richard Strier, et al, on Greenblatt

Matthew Jordan matthewjorda at gmail.com
Wed Sep 16 19:44:18 EDT 2015


BTW I meant "rapt" or "enrapt": got caught between that, "enraptured" and
"enwrapped," I think.....

On 17 September 2015 at 00:40, Margie <mthickst at hamilton.edu> wrote:

> I use reading aloud activities (and group oral exams) to teach PL. Anyone
> coming to Murfreesboro can hear all about it. Anyone not coming who's
> interested should just contact me.
>  --Margie
> (Crystal--I'm just down the Thruway!)
>
> Sent from my iPad
>
> On Sep 16, 2015, at 7:26 PM, Matthew Jordan <matthewjorda at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> I - and as far as I'm aware, my co-students - certainly read PL on our
> own, in the 80s. I was advised to read it aloud; the first go took much of
> two days. That's not to say that I read it with Empsonian rigour or
> inventiveness...
>
> Then again, I may have had a head start: my Dad did once come home from
> work to find me and a couple of friends from Nursery School gazing wrapt at
> my Mum, in Oxford cap and gown, distracting herself from the tedium of
> child-minding by teaching us a class on Milton - or at least, reading aloud
> from him....
>
> Best, Matt
>
> On 16 September 2015 at 22:21, Richard A. Strier <rastrier at uchicago.edu>
> wrote:
>
>> Thanks for the comment and history, but I am skeptical about one claim.
>> I do not believe that your students in the '80's actually could read PL on
>> their own, with no help except historical and critical contextualization.
>> Maybe they were better at faking it, but the poem is not easy, on first
>> acquaintance, for ANYONE to read.  So again -- though I may indeed be
>> mistaken -- think that the contrast is being overdrawn.
>>
>> RS
>>
>> ________________________________________
>> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [
>> milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Crystal L Bartolovich [
>> clbartol at syr.edu]
>> Sent: Wednesday, September 16, 2015 12:20 PM
>> To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
>> Subject: [Milton-L] response to Richard Strier, et al, on Greenblatt
>>
>> Totally agree with Richard that Greenblatt appears to give up too easily
>> in that piece.
>>
>> But, on the other hand, I must admit that I have had to shift the teaching
>> of my upper division Milton class considerably over the years. When I
>> first started teaching as a grad student in the 1980s, I could presume
>> that most students could get Shakespeare AND Milton on their own and so I
>> spent class time only on broader critical and historical issues.  I
>> definitely cannot make that assumption with Milton now or an alarming
>> number of students would fail.
>>
>> Even honors students truly cannot read Milton at first AT ALL.  So, at the
>> beginning of the term, I have to have the students read a few lines out
>> loud and venture to say what they mean‹ every student, in turn, in every
>> class.  THIS IS REALLY REALLY HARD for my students (who are not U Chicago
>> undergrads, admittedly) to do, but between this rigorous in-class work,
>> and ample paraphrasing homework, most of them DO get it, and we can spend
>> time on more sophisticated questions of interpretation.
>>
>> But some of them require very considerable coaching during office hours
>> until the very end, and a few fail.  So I don¹t think that the diagnosis
>> of less verbal facility is false, but rather that there are antidotes
>> other than throwing in the towel and letting them make films or
>> whatever‹and that those other remedies are more valuable.
>>
>> By far I get the most notes of appreciation from Milton students, saying
>> how proud they are that they stuck the course out and how much they
>> learned.
>>
>>
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>
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