Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Is the writing on the wall for English students?


Andrew Motion is worried that students of English literature are are not familiar with the Biblical references which inform so much of the canon of English poetry, prose and drama. And, indeed, still forms a rich source of inspiration for the titles of contemporary books and plays.

I must say, I tend to agree with our Poet Laureate. Though, equally, I freely confess that I didn't score 10 out of 10 in this quiz . . .

If you tell me your score, I'll tell you mine!

19 comments:

Barb said...

Seven out of ten.

Apparently, you can take the girl out of the church, but...

How many did you get?

Joanna said...

8 out of 10 - though some of those questions were about knowledge of literature rather than the bible (although unknown answers guessable with adequate biblical knowledge)

I know what A Motion means, but the problem is that I acquired this high score through enforced (and reluctant) attendance at church throughout my childhood, and this, I think, is too high a price for the proper appreciation of literature.

Joanna

Jade said...

7 out of 10 - acquired through a Jewish education and an Anglophilic upbringing.

Jane Badger said...

Ha! 6 out of ten, and I'm a regular churchgoer... Andrew Motion is quite right. Our church youth group are quite staggeringly ignorant of the Bible, and we've learned never to assume they know anything at all, because bitter experience has taught us they know virtually nothing, not even things you'd think would be obvious like Moses, Joseph and Feeding the Five Thousand.

Juxtabook said...

7 out of 10. I am a lacksadaisical Anglican. I have acquired as much knowledge of the Bible as necessity for my literary studies as I have through my intermitent church attendance.

monix said...

8 out of 10, including a couple of lucky guesses! Considering that I studied English and RE at college, I suppose I should hang my head in shame.

Juliet said...

Thanks for revealing your scores, everyone. I managed 7 out of 10, which seems to be about average according to this sample. Perhaps A Motion Esq would despair of us all too . . .

Alex said...

I got 6 out of 10 but I should have got 7 after I did a "yeah I knew it was that, why didn't I pick that one?".

jane said...

Seven out of ten - its been a long time since I delved deeply into the bible!

Logophile said...

I found Motion's piece really interesting. As an undergrad years ago I enjoyed a "Bible as Literature" course - it broadened my knowledge and was so very interesting. Perhaps that's one way to interest the non-religious/non-Christian? Anyway, I got 9 out of 10 (one was a lucky guess though!).

Rob Spence said...

7/10- must try harder, I suppose. I'm an atheist, but consider the King James bible one of the wonders of the language. I like the story that Shakespeare had a hand in it.
Students of literature need to know the bible, and ancient mythology too, since so much literature refers to it. But I would argue that these things are essential as part of anyone's cultural knowledge. Recognising those references enhances enjoyment and understanding.

KSV Woolfoot said...

Also 7 for 10 - and that included a few lucky guesses and if it had not been multiple choice...

Greg Dunn said...

I was brimming with pride with my solid 6 out of 10 until I opened the score sheet for the rest of the class. Interesting that the atheilogians (?) scored better than the God botherers, on the whole.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, I scored 10. There were a few informed guesses, though! Being a cultural catholic (ie somewhat churchgoing but non-believing) I'm astonished at what seems to have seeped into my brain over the years.
Pippa

Juliet said...

Thanks everyone for revealing all. Some interesting scores. A non-multiple choice format would have been more revealing, perhaps (I suspect I wasn't the only one going 'phew' after a lucky guess or two!) And also, of course, most of the above are closer to Andrew Motion's generation than we are to the students of whom he despairs: perhaps we should all get our children to take the test and report back.

Pippa - I LOVE the expression 'cultural Catholic'! I'm a 'cultural Anglican' by the same definition. Sounds (and is) so much more positive than the rather dismal 'lapsed'.

Anonymous said...

1/10....I'm sorry mum...

Juliet said...

Hmm, despite Church, Sunday School, school assemblies, Confirmation classes . . . ho hum. Never mind, darling, just don't tell Grannie! xxx

Sam Norton said...

...or the vicar (8/10 and kicking myself)

Juliet said...

Sam - Hey, 80% is still an A grade score!! Probably A*** these days, in fact. Please don't kick yourself! x