24 September 2009

On a different way of conceptualising a curriculum

From D G Myers "Commonplace Blog";

A local private school has asked me to help revise and standardize the English curriculum. By the time its students graduate and head off to college, they should know, in my opinion, at least these core terms, arranged under three headings:


Allegory, Comedy, Drama, Elegy, Epic, Fiction, Lyric, Melodrama, Novel, Poetry, Satire, Sonnet, Short story, Tragedy

Formal components and structural devices:

Character, Couplet, Imagery, Meter, Monologue, Plot, Point of view (First-person Omniscient Unreliable narrator), Prose, Rhyme, Setting, Stanza, Stream of consciousness, Symbol, Theme and motif, Verse, Blank verse, Free verse,    Iambic verse

Elements of style:

Alliteration, Cliché, Conceit, Connotation and denotation, Diction, Irony, Metaphor, Onomatopoeia, Personification, Tone, Wit

The accomplished student ought to progress from definition to recognition of literary examples and finally to application of the terms in criticism.
 I've reformatted the list, but otherwise that is the whole thing. Is it idiosyncratic? Just one scholar's way of distilling the essential of his discipline? Or is this kind of list routine? It's certainly alien to British experience although I do note that it is a private school, and "local" presumably mean "in Texas".

But how would you feel if confronted by that list--or its equivalent in your own discipline--as a curriculum? Free? Lacking boundaries? Heaving a sigh of relief? Bewildered?

I note that despite all of this being (potentially) about literature, it is totally non-prescriptive about literature itself...

1 comment:

Comments welcome, but I am afraid I have had to turn moderation back on, because of inappropriate use. Even so, I shall process them as soon as I can.