Affective and Cognitive Responses to Poetry in the University Classroom

Kate Rumbold, Karen Simecek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In universities, as in mainstream education more widely, cognitive approaches to poetry are often dominant. Far from being irrelevant to the serious study of literature, we argue that eliciting students’ affective responses to poetry can deepen their cognitive understanding and analytical skills. Drawing on recent research in psychology on the relationship between cognition and affect, we show that poetry has particular potential to make us aware of the crucial interrelation of our cognitive and affective processes; and that bringing those responses into balance can deepen our understanding of poetry. Building on recent educational studies of typical student (and teacher) anxieties and assumptions about working with poetry, and on our observations from our own initial, exploratory seminars, we explore some of the obstacles to rebalancing the cognitive and affective dimensions of poetry in higher education, and point to the potential value of such an approach if such obstacles are overcome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-350
JournalChanging English
Issue number4
Early online date13 Oct 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Oct 2016


  • teaching poetry
  • cognition and affect
  • poetry seminar
  • poetry and emotion
  • higher education


Dive into the research topics of 'Affective and Cognitive Responses to Poetry in the University Classroom'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this