My students in British Literature and Composition have just begun a unit on late Renaissance/Restoration poetry. We will read the following writers:
- John Donne
- Ben Jonson
- Andrew Marvell
- Robert Herrick
- Sir John Suckling
- John Milton
Afterward, students will explicate a poem, something I was not asked to do until I was a freshman and college. When I told our AP Literature teacher (who also often teaches juniors and seniors), he seemed thrilled to learn I was going to try explication, and he gave some good things to peruse and think about. Meanwhile, to get my students started, I am using Lisa Huff’s TPCASTT method for analyzing poetry, and the students have responded positively to the deep reading, even if they haven’t necessarily “liked” the poem. It’s hard to get past “do you like this poem or not and why” with some students, and this graphic organizer really helps. At any rate, I’m really encouraged by the positive comments the students are making about the material on the classroom blog.
Through the English Companion Ning, I became aware of an excellent podcast of a BBC program called In Our Time. I listened to and shared the episode concerning the Metaphysical Poets with my students, and I’m crossing my fingers they will listen to it. I think it will really help them understand especially John Donne, whom I find to be a challenging writer.
Speaking of the Ning, I have not contributed as much as I need to because I have not had time to keep up with the conversations going on. I’m going to try Steve Shann’s suggestion of setting up Pageflakes to keep track of the Ning. I am finding it a challenge to balance teaching with grad school and home life this semester. This weekend in particular looks like one long, bleak work session to me (I am just on a short break, I promise), and it depresses me not to be able to read for pleasure, particularly after Matthew Pearl sent me a galley copy of The Last Dickens that I’m itching to start.