OVERTON, W.J., 2008. ‘People have forgotten how to hear the music’ : the teaching of poetry and prosody. English, 57, pp. 266-282
This essay aims to initiate a debate on the teaching of prosody in British higher education. It presents data and discursive comments from a survey conducted in 2007 that achieved a response rate of over 75 percent from 112 institutions. These reveal a widely shared belief among higher education teachers that knowledge of prosody is important, and an equally widely shared perception that most students enter higher education without it. They also suggest, however, that most institutions do too little to help students acquire the metrical understanding and skills that they need, with the result that many remain functionally illiterate as readers of verse. Taking into account some of the factors that militate against the teaching and learning of prosody, the essay argues that understanding of versification is necessary for a proper understanding of poetry, and that it should therefore become a formal requirement of higher education curricula nationally.
This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in English following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at: http://english.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/57/219/266