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A recitation in a general sense is the act of reciting from memory, or a formal reading of verse or other writing before an audience.[1] [2]

Academic recitation

Caesar, Bellum Gallicum 1,1, spoken by a German, exaggerated to hear the stressed syllables.

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 (TA) 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,[3] either to the teacher or tutor directly, or in front of a class or body of assembled students.

In classes involving mathematics and engineering, a recitation is often used as the vehicle to perform derivations or solve problems similar to those assigned to the 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.

Religious recitation

Recitations of holy texts are part of the cultural presentations of some religions.[4][5] As Denny notes there is a vast bibliography of Qur'an recitation in Arabic and other languages by Muslim scholars. [5] These religion recitations take the form of prayer,[6] liturgy, and public performance.[7]

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 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 himself to recite his new born poetry to an audience, and in the early twentieth century recitation developed into an autonomous art form. Recitation got a new dimension by the Midus touch performance of sonorous drama artistes especially in `All India Radio’ apart from the previous tradition. They generated a new window of performing art. In this procession Birendra Krishna Bhadra is harbinger.


  1. recitation. "Collins English Dictionary" - Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved December 07, 2012.
  2. "Recitation" in Collins Cobuild Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary. New Digital Edition 2008 © HarperCollins Publishers 2008
  3. Pierpont, John (1832) "Preface" The American first class book, or, Exercises in reading and recitation Carter, Hendee & Co., Boston, Massachusetts, pages 3-6 OCLC 12151137
  4. Kuipers, Cornelius (1944) "Preface" Christian dialogs and recitations: dialogs, recitations, readings, pageants Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, page 1 and following, OCLC 9054621
  5. 5.0 5.1 Denny, Frederick Mathewson (1989) "Qur’ān Recitation: A Tradition of Oral Performance and Transmission" Oral Tradition 4(1/2): pp. 5-26, page 1
  6. Weil, Simone (1942) "Spiritual Autobiography" as "Encounters with Christ" page 247 In McGinn, Bernard (2006) The essential writings of Christian mysticism Modern Library, New York, pp. 246-250, ISBN 0-8129-7421-2
  7. Martin, Richard (2005) "Tilāwah" in Jones, Linsay (editor) (2005) Encyclopedia of Religion (2nd edition) Volume 13, page 9200, Macmillan Reference, Detroit, Michigan, ISBN 0-02-865982-1


  • 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