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In academia, recitation is a presentation made by a student to demonstrate knowledge of a subject or to provide instruction to others. In some academic institutions the term is used for a presentation by a teaching assistant or instructor, under the guidance of a senior faculty member, that supplements course materials. In recitations that supplement lectures, the leader will often review the lecture, expand on the concepts, and carry on a discussion with the students.
In its most basic form, a student would recite verbatim poems or essays of others, either to the teacher or tutor directly, or in front of a class or body of assembled students.
Scientific classes, such as biology, chemistry, and physics, often employ the use of recitation sections to help students clarify subject matter that was either not fully understood or inadequately addressed in the limited time of lecture. These recitation sections may be conducted by the professor or a student teaching assistant. These sections provide students with an opportunity to receive additional instruction on confusing subject matter or receive personal assistance with problems or questions assigned as homework in the lecture section. Some universities may require attendance at regularly scheduled recitation sections in addition to any required labs. Recitations may also provide students with additional opportunities for receiving grades for the lecture portion of the course. Despite mandatory attendance and additional time spent in the classroom, these sections usually do not count towards university credits required for graduation, but may significantly increase a student's ability to understand important concepts required to pass the course.
Recitations of holy texts are part of the cultural presentations of some religions. As Denny notes, "There is a vast bibliography of Qur'an recitation in Arabic and other languages by Muslim scholars." These religion recitations take the form of prayer, liturgy, and public performance.
Recitation as a performing art
Recitation is practiced as a performing art especially in Bangladesh and India. Nowadays it is a popular art form in Bengal. The reciters recite Bengali poems on stage and electronic media. Shambhu Mitra, Kazi Sabyasachi, Pradeep Ghosh, Partha Ghhosh, Gauri Ghosh, Utpal Kundu are great reciters from West Bengal. Reciters like Samiran Sanyal, Bratati Bandyopadhyay, Bijoylakshmi Burman, Pinaki Chattopadhyay,Sutapa Bandyopadhyay, Urmimala Basu, Samya Karpha to name a few, are contributing significantly in this field. There are many such organizations of recitation, with most located in Bangladesh.
It was often popular for a poet to recite his or her newly-created poetry to an audience. In the early twentieth century, recitation developed into an autonomous art form.
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- Jahandarie, Khosrow (1996) Spoken and Written Discourse: a multi-disciplinary perspective Ablex/Greenwood, Stamford, Connecticut, ISBN 1-56750-426-4
- Warner, Charles Dudley (1899) "School or Entertainment Recitations" Library of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modern J. A. Hill, New York, p. cdlxxx