Tag Archives: rhetoric

Musical Poetics

In the traditional liberal arts curriculum, music was classed alongside the mathematical disciplines of astronomy, arithmetic, and geometry. This placement reflects the theoretical nature of musical inquiry in the classical and medieval world, in which theorists sought to explain musical phenomena through ratio, proportion, and cycle. However, a historical precedent for a rhetorical approach to music exists in the practice of musica poetica in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Germany. Influenced by the intellectual tradition of the Reformation, musica poetica sought to reconcile the practical concerns of music theory, composition, and performance with principles of classical rhetoric. Continue reading Musical Poetics

See the Poem, Be the Poet, See the Poem Again

This is the first post of a two-part essay on the pedagogy of poetic imitation.

As the Lead Professor for Concordia University Irvine’s Core English 201: World Literature to the Renaissance, I try to vary the papers I assign each semester, both as a way of discouraging cheating and as a means of staying sane. About three years ago, I came upon a new idea—new for me, that is—that would allow the students to be more creative while helping them understand that most basic block of good poetry, and of writing in general: diction.

Students often take for granted the existence of works of art, as if the poets or painters behind them were not real humans who struggled to compose their pieces or who made difficult choices along the way. Continue reading See the Poem, Be the Poet, See the Poem Again

Cultural Institutions, Theatre, and Humanistic Liberal Arts Education: Where Do We Go from Here?

Perennially, with justification, those who support limited choice in general, liberal education argue that menu systems (and their slightly more structured curricular cousins) lead to incoherence in the first years of the undergraduate curriculum.  On the other hand, most institutions are organized into disciplinary departments, and a menu system has been almost universally recognized as the best “market” mechanism to induce or introduce students to majors in various fields. But what happens when, particularly in the humanities, the very fields that are represented by departments are thought to be ineffective in employing their students, technologically backward in their approaches to the world, and, maybe most importantly, demographically cut off from new recruits.  What strategies then?  That’s what a recent Harvard report, and the Academic Council and Deans of America and Phi Beta Kappa in a recent conference, and Arum and Roksa’s Academically Adrift all seem to be asking. As it turns out, happily these questions are asked in terms of the fate of liberal arts education. Continue reading Cultural Institutions, Theatre, and Humanistic Liberal Arts Education: Where Do We Go from Here?