What We Value Is Crucial To Understanding Poetry | WGLT

What We Value Is Crucial To Understanding Poetry

Nov 22, 2017

A pair of English professors have teamed up to help readers find new ways to evaluate poetry.

You need more than a book of poetry to get the most of of poems. You need a group of fellow readers and an understanding of a new way to evaluate works of poetry. Mike Thuene and Bob Broad reveal these methods in their new book, "We Need to Talk: A New Method For Evaluating Poetry."

Dynamic criteria mapping can help guide students of poetry into understanding why they value certain works. And this is a journey that poetry lovers should make with others, sharing what they each value to help deepen the experience of reading and evaluating poetry.

"You have to sit down with other people," explained Mike Thuene, professor of English at Illinois Wesleyan University. "And you have to look at texts and you have to discuss texts. And in those discussions, your values are revealed through that process." 

The communal experience is vital to dynamic criteria mapping. "It's that vibrant, human interaction that's sometimes antagonistic, often dramatic interaction with people where ideas are sparking. That's where values are really revealed," said Thuene.

Those conversations are recorded and then analyzed as part of the mapping process. And the process of understanding values can be tricky, said Thuene.

"Values can be quirky. They're not just sitting there. They're not solid little nuggets. Our values shift depending on various things."

The authors' method is something of a particle collider, where participants have values discussions and the values slam into each other and help them learn about those values by seeing them interact during analysis.

"We Need to Talk: A New Method For Evaluating Poetry" is available from Multilingual Matters. 

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