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The scholarship, established in memory of the late actor David Coleman Dukes, is awarded annually to a third-year Theater Arts student working toward a career in stage acting. A bronze plaque commemorating the scholarship benefit held in David Coleman Dukes' name can be seen in the lobby of the Bing Theater, off Queen's Court on the USC campus.
Madeline Puzo, Dean, USC School of Theatre

  2012 Carol Muske Dukes

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When Everybody Knew a Poet (New York Times Op-Ed)

January 1, 2003

Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:
Re "A Lost Eloquence," by Carol Muske-Dukes (Op-Ed, Dec.29):

The balking of students to putting verse to heart by rote memorization is not limited to poetry. There is almost a pedagogical malaise that decries rote learning in disciplines like science, mathematics and engineering. And critical analysis and scholarship are being replaced by searching the Web.

There is a growing contempt for the hard work of achieving mastery.

But the beauty of a poem, once learned, is not in the recitation of words. The poem, committed to memory, becomes a vehicle of communion for the self and the soul. Rote learning of the tools of thought has similar benefits in all fields.

Baltimore, Dec. 29, 2002

To the Editor:
As a 22-year-old recent college graduate, I applaud "A Lost Eloquence," by Carol Muske-Dukes (Op-Ed, Dec.29), about the lost tradition of learning poems through memori-zation.

In this day and age, I was lucky enough to have a high school French teacher who demanded that we memorize and recite French poetry and fables. As students, we were given extra points for dramatic effusion.

Although, I am sad to say, my French skills are no longer stellar, the poems of Jacques Prevert and others still live in my blood.

I only wish that my English teachers had done the same.

Brooklyn, Dec. 29, 2002

To the Editor:
Maybe it's a North Dakota thing. I'm only 58, but like Carol Muske-Dukes's mother (Op-Ed, Dec. 29) I carry around with me vast stores of poetry (mostly 19th century) com-mitted to memory and heard forever in my mother's voice.

There are times in life when know-ing that here in the forest primeval, as the highwayman comes riding, riding, I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

Northfield, Ill., Dec. 29, 2002

To the Editor:
Carol Muske-Dukes's enthusiasm for memorization (Op-Ed, Dec.29) harks back to a noted pedagogy of language acquisition before the late 19th century introduction of inexpen-sive textbooks and silent reading.

According to the tenets of what has been called the doctrine of imitation, memorization of great writing results in a sensorium, an ear for literary language that serves to guide and inspire as pen is set to paper.

But memorization is now a dirty word in education, with the result that students want to hear the diction and rhythms of pop lyrics more than those of Tennyson, Frost or (to reach way back) Cicero.

As George Orwell pointed out, for better or worse, what you hear is what you write.

Sewickley, Pa., Dec. 30, 2002