Ars Poetica, Romanticism and English education: Poetic inheritances in the senior secondary English curriculum in New South Wales, Australia

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
English Teaching, 2013, 12 (1), pp. 46 - 63
Issue Date:
2013-03-01
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Poetry, as a textual form for critical study and composition, continues to occupy a significant place in Australian senior secondary English syllabus documents and classrooms (cf. Carter, 2012). Indeed, within the senior secondary English syllabus in New South Wales (NSW), poetry remains one of the core mandatory types of texts for study by the majority of students seeking matriculation, thus signalling its enduring position in the conceptualisation and identity of subject English in this Australian curricular context. But poetry is not only a constituent of the NSW formal curriculum in terms of content: poetry - specifically the "epistemic assumptions" (Reid, 2002, p. 21) inscribed in poetry from the Romantic period of English literature - has been encoded in the "disciplinary norms" (p. 21) of the subject itself. This paper examines those poetic inheritances at work in the curricular design, intent and substance of the English Extension 2 course, which forms part of the suite of senior secondary English courses offered in NSW - the English Stage 6 Syllabus (Board of Studies NSW, 1999). The paper reorients our attention as educators to the legacy of Romantic ars poetica to English in the 21st century classroom and proposes ways in which this legacy can be actively reclaimed at the service of holistic, student-centred learning and achievement. © 2013.
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