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Sounding Sense: The Place, Problems and Potential of Performance in Poetry

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Drawing on a strand of findings from the Cambridge Poetry Teaching Project, a small-scale research study co-ordinated through the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge, this article examines contemporary understandings of poetry performance in teaching contexts. Positioning these understandings in relation to past practices, we contend that within contemporary English teaching, the experience of performance is now largely separated from knowledge of poems developed through detailed analysis. Through an examination of theories of poetry and language more generally, we argue that performance should be more fully integrated into poetry teaching, and suggest ways in which a consideration of principles and choices relating to performance has the potential to cultivate the resources of the inner ear and to instantiate a kind of knowledge whose educational value should be given equal status with the analytical understanding of poems that currently drives the examination system.
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Keywords: English curriculum; performance; poetry

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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