Teaching Keats

Discussion on the works of John Keats.

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Teaching Keats

Postby BrokenLyre » Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:40 am

I wonder if anyone has any experience with teaching Keats to groups of children or adults. This week I will have the opportunity to teach a bit of poetry (in general) to about 45 adults. Since none of them has much interest in poetry I figured I could expose them to the richness of "To Autumn" and hopefully introduce them to the thematic ideas, historic issues and the literary elements of the text. I think Autumn lends itself nicely to these three dimensions of poetry. Of course there is also the personal aspect - as we all know in our reading of the poems. Reading Jack Stillinger and Helen Vendler has helped me much in preparing for this.

Feel free to drop me your thoughts about doing this. It may be too ambitious, but I will enjoy it immensely :D Though I feel very apprehensive, and not qualified to teach Keats, it actually encourages me to know that I am part of a larger community of the "Keats Circle" with you. In some strange way, I feel like I will be representing all of your interests as well. Hopefully, I won't let you down friends!
If it goes half as good as I imagine - I'll be happy!
"Come... dry your eyes, for you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes... and let's go home."
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Re: Teaching Keats

Postby Rich Roach » Sun Mar 08, 2009 7:12 pm

Broken Lyre,

Good for you, teaching Keats!

That is a noble enough occupation in itself.

I think it is important to get their interest first. I would show them a few choice pictures of autumnal scenes (in groups of 5), and ask each group to jot down on one half of a piece of chart paper as many words as possible culled from the picture. Then, on the other half, each student writes down any connections the picture has with his/her own life. Give examples.

Then tell them a bit about Keats's life - something short that brings in the fact that a very young man was eventually attracted to "stubble fields." Discuss why stubble fields and autumn would be of particular interest to a poet who knew he was living on borrowed time.

Find the quote from Keats's letters where he describes a brisk autumn walk just prior to writing "To Autumn."

Have the students divide the poem up and read it to each other.
Discuss.

................

I don't know if this helps, but it's a start.

Rich
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Re: Teaching Keats

Postby BrokenLyre » Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:33 am

Wow. Thanks for responding. I really appreciate your creative ideas on teaching Keats. I am always looking for novel ways to do this. In the next few weeks I will (hopefully) teach a 12th grade English AP class for 1 day on Poetry. The teacher is bringing me in for the seminar on Keats. I have not done this with high school seniors before, so your suggestions are great. Getting the kids involved will help them to focus too. Thanks again for your thoughtful email! I will report back as I am able.
"Come... dry your eyes, for you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes... and let's go home."
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Re: Teaching Keats

Postby bard of passion » Sat Apr 11, 2009 6:50 am

Brokenlyre;

How did the Keatsian Episode come off?

What poems did you use?

Where they more interested in the "romance" of the Romantics or did the sound and sense of his poems enthrall me so?

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Re: Teaching Keats

Postby BrokenLyre » Sun Apr 12, 2009 2:12 am

Well, bard of passion, I'm still waiting to teach the class.

I have had good talks with the teacher, but waiting for the right time. The light is green but the timing has to fit. I plan on using "To Autumn" and following a Rich Roach suggestion in this thread. Then I will amp it up a bit (since it is an Advanced Placement class) and bring my bronzed Keats head into class. I will share about his life and poetic structures within the poem. For most students, 'To Autumn' more naturally lends itself to readability, illustration and explication than Keats' other poems I think. I'll report what happens.
Thanks for the interest and support.
"Come... dry your eyes, for you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes... and let's go home."
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Re: Teaching Keats

Postby bard of passion » Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:54 am

BrokenLyre;

When I taught "The Guitarist Tunes Up" I brought in my Ovation acoustic and tuned it while reciting the poem. The class loved it.

For "To Autumn," you might want to find a Richard Burton-like (Caedmon CD, maybe?) recitation of it and put together a powerpoint or something...

Good luck, let us know how it goes.

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