Recitation, in this context, refers not to
the oral delivery of prepared lessons by a pupil in front of a teacher,
but the reciting of memorized selections in a public performance accompanied
by studied gestures and intonation.Â The practice had its origins
in reading aloud in homes, gradually became institutionalized in the schools
(elocution), and finally evolved into a popular form of entertainment in
variety shows such as vaudeville and music halls.Â Although elocution
originally was aimed at training clergymen and lawyers, it became a means
of promoting proper speech among the working class, thus facilitating upward
mobility.Â In Victorian-era schools, uplifting recitations that fostered
moral improvement were especially encouraged.Â Well-known poems were
popular, as were inspiring historic and patriotic ballads.Â The two
simple examples of verses for children illustrated below are fairly typical
of the period.
Source: Excelsior writer and speaker,
/ by Rev. Henry Davenport Northrop.
Atlanta, Ga. : J.L. Nichols & Co., 1899).
448p. : ill. ; 25 cm.