The genre of poetry: secondary school students' conventional expectations and interpretive operations

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Abstract

This study examined secondary school students' knowledge of the conventions and aesthetic operations that theorists hypothesize are associated with the poetic genre. Students read texts presented visually both in the shape of poems as well as prose. The identification of a text as a poem triggered significantly more references to the conventional expectations as well as greater appreciation of aesthetic elements that add a layer of meaning. Students also spent longer thinking about the poem-shaped texts and rated the poems as more enjoyable, challenging, emotionally engaging, and as eliciting more imagery. If poetry triggers the tendency to engage in active and meaningful thinking by guiding us to see language in new ways, it may be one more reason to include it in the secondary school English curriculum.

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