Welcome to the Poetry and Memory website, and thank you for dropping by.
We hope everything on the site is fairly self-explanatory: information about our project and us, a portal for our survey (later in the year), links to related sites, and so on. Eventually we’ll be able to report on outcomes, too, but in the meantime, we’ll be posting here about some of our activities, observations and general musings.
We’re tremendously excited about this project, as you would hope; it’s our research project, after all. But we’re also quite taken aback by the excited responses from everyone to whom we explain the idea. As many have said, it feels like a very timely piece of research.
To put this into context, not only did the learning and recital of poems fall off the curriculum in the English education system in the early part of the twentieth century, but in the latter part, the whole idea of poetry memorisation became deeply unfashionable. Currently, attitudes to the practice amongst teachers seem to be very mixed.(1) And yet, there are signs of change in the air, a rekindling of interest, perhaps even a rediscovery of a lost art. One view would be that it’s just the inevitable turn of the pendulum, or that the practice has now been unfashionable for so long that it’s acquired either a kind of novelty value or fashionable irony which will wear off in time. But taking other factors into consideration, we think there’s a more to it. More on that another post.
So, having got this site up and running, it’s on with the literature review.
Debbie Pullinger and David Whitley
1. This was the finding in our previous, small-scale study of local teachers from primary through to university.