More ekphrasis

So another cool thing about teaching HS is that it’s really fun, and often illuminating, and frequently just plain useful, to know a lot about what other classes your students are taking.  I am most likely to draw on their knowledge of history and other languages–but science comes in too, and occasionally math, and just the other day I took my poetry class (the one that wrote poems about the Brueghel painting) on an in-school field trip to the annual “gallery show” of work from the art classes.  There were paintings, drawings, mixed-media pieces, sculptures, ceramics, and photographs, and as usual a lot of the work was amazing.  They each had to pick a work of art to write a poem about, and I did one too (choosing a series of photographs of objects refracted through water).  Lots of my students had work in the show, too. 

(I mentioned to Dorothea and Romola that I was relieved that at least a few of them were able to remember the term “ekphrasis” from a few weeks ago, and they both looked startled and said that they’d never heard that term before.  Okay, so it is not a word most of us learn in high school, or even afterwards, but as long as they are doing it, they should know what it is called.)


4 responses to this post.

  1. I love the word “ekphrasis.” I also love “zeugma.” They’re both just fun to say!


  2. Posted by Pym Fan on April 25, 2011 at 3:18 am

    Mmmmm–zeugma… I didn’t encounter “ekphrasis” or “zeugma” until college, but if I’d learned those word in high school, I would have enjoyed them that much earlier.


  3. One of my prouder cross-curricular moments this year was explaining the “Odysseus strings his bow” scene to students in terms of potential and kinetic energy, which I knew they were studying in 9th-grade physics. I was impressed with myself!

    (Those same 9th-graders did a great job in thinking about Auden’s and Williams’ ekphrastic poems about Breughel’s “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus,” but they didn’t do so fabulously with writing their own ekphrastic poems on the painting. Many of them wrote about the myth but not about the painting itself. Probably their 9th-grade maturity levels and my teaching contributed equally to the less-than-brilliant response to that part of the assignment. I may tweak the assignment in the future to have them choose a work of art on their own to write an ekphrastic response to, on the theory that they’ll be more inspired. But still, a few of them did really good work.)


  4. Posted by meansomething on May 7, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    WN?: Potential elastic energy! I am totally stealing that (we’re just approaching that book of the Odyssey).


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