The Art of Reading a Poem (According to Harold Bloom)

Most university podcasts allow the outside world to listen in on fairly polished and formal campus lectures. But this podcast is different. As part of its new iTunes initiative, Yale University has recently released a recording of famed literary critic Harold Bloom (see bio) teaching a seminar on "The Art of Reading a Poem" (iTunes version - mp3 stream). Here, Bloom endearingly takes his students through a poem by Wallace Stevens, Parts of a World, and constantly moves between interpretation and digression -- digressions that are often filled with intriguing personal anecdotes (as well as frequent laments for other thinkers from Bloom's generation who have since passed away).

The podcast is notable for being remarkably unedited, which has its pluses and minuses. On the downside, the seminar doesn't really get going until 13 minutes in (so consider starting there), and the first few minutes include a long stretch of silence when Bloom excuses himself from the room. On the upside, the unedited cut creates a kind of cinéma vérité experience for the listener. You get to hear Bloom, one of America's best literary critics, working in the classroom in an unadulterated way, teasing apart a poem by one of America's best poets. There is something immediate, pure and exciting about this way of using the podcast, an approach that universities should look at more closely.

See more University Podcasts here.


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