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I am posting this as a benchmark, not because I think I'm playing very well yet.  The idea would be post a video every month for a ye...

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


My other article for August is on teaching poetry, for a volume Jill K. and another colleague are editing in the MLA series, on "teaching ..." I'd like to follow a similar process as with my other article. Today is just a day to think about it.


We think of poetry as signs on the page to be deciphered through a mostly intellectual process called "hermeneutics." We think if it too as a genre of so-called "literature." The idea is to interpret and "analyze" a verbal text. Analyzing something means taking it apart in order to see how it works. Nothing wrong with that, but

I'd like to contrast that with another vision of poetry that starts at the other end of things, so to speak. Poetry is deeply embodied. What if reading a poem were more similar to learning a certain kind of dancing or singing, or learning to draw a picture of your hand? It's true that analysis could be a significant aspect of learning to dance & any other kind of performing art.

The first step is a kind of sensorial analysis. The five senses, taken together, make up a kind of encyclopedia of response. Sight has a series of associations: with "vision," with reason and intellect, but sound, feel, smell, and taste are also key.

Take a poem and see what's going on with the five senses. That might take all semester!

Prosody. Students cannot hear accents even in English (Lucy Ferriss.)

Teaching through performance.

The approach to poetry is good pedagogically, because it opens up students' response to poetry, which may have been deadened by years of bad pedagogy. Nevertheless, it doesn't provide a clear path toward academically cogent arguments.

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