Poetry, Rap and the Principles of Practical Criticism

The students at CSMS enjoyed a fascinating lecture from Dr Ewan Jones from the University of Cambridge on Monday.

Students were introduced to the concept of practical criticism, an approach that enables students to read a text without considering contextual factors such as autobiographical details or sociohistorical factors. This was developed at the University of Cambridge in the 1920s.  Dr Jones invited the audience to investigate the impact rhythm has on a variety of poems from William Wordsworth to rap artist, Eminem. Dr Jones showed us how exploring rhythm in poetry is often a pertinent way of getting to the emotion of a poet’s work. His message was an empowering one about the importance of accepting ambiguity in poetry and the value of multiple interpretations.

Celebrating 100 years of English Literature at Cambridge, Dr Jones addressed a number of questions asked by the audience about the nature of the subject at the university as well as the valuable contribution literature can make to our lives. It was clear that the audience were inspired by Dr Jones’ practical approach to literature and the advice he gave to students in approaching poetry.

We would like to thank Dr Jones for his time and his valuable insight into hearing the music in poetry and the benefits of practical criticism.