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Group Presentations

Objective: To make clear how a work supports a theme (or main idea) by directing all facets of the work toward that idea.  Use the checklist to help assure quality (so you don't just summarize but analyze).

Details for Group Presentations--

Midterm Presentations with Handout:  Around midterm, each group should make a presentation of up to 15 minutes to explain the literary merits and structure of 1 contemporary work of the group's choosing.  Your group can present on-campus in person OR on VHS videotape (or possibly via video on a CD, if you have access to that technology).

Your group's handout (5 copies will do) should be about this work in its literary or dramatic contexts; the handout (probably a printout of a Word file) must be distributed during the session when you make your presentation to the class at our Parham Road Campus classroom, probably B-351.  The work you explain will be one of these (see below this chart for more details and examples, plus a suggested division of labor for the group):

scene from a movie Show the scene, and analyze the scene's staging, e.g. camera work, setting, etc.; hand out a summary and list of main characters.
scene from a play Act out the scene and analyze some of the decisions made for staging/acting.
song Play the song on tape or CD, or sing it yourself; provide the lyrics, and analyze the song's message and method.
poem Read a poem with appropriate (well rehearsed) intonation (no sing-song forced rhythms but rhythm that plays up words and imagery that enhance the theme of the poem.

For hints/topics of other students who have done this assignment, click here.

Click to a checklist of topics for group presentations.

Basically, your job is to reveal the literary merits of a movie by showing us one scene from the movie or of a song by playing it on cassette, CD, or live.  

  • You earn up to 50 points for what you SAY, not for what you play, so at least 10 minutes of your presentation should be you talking. Your classmates and I will try to ask questions, as time allows, to offer you one or more grade-raising opportunities.
  • You earn up to 50 more points for working the selection and the handout into your presentation and the handout's content. 

Presenting a Movie Scene: Many groups come to this session with a videotape cued up to a movie scene that they have decided is rich enough to talk about for 10 minutes or more.  The scenes they select are often those which start a conflict, show its climax, or stage its resolution.  Students will hand out a summary of the entire film, perhaps with a character list or film credits, sometimes with illustrations from the Internet.  MAXIMIZING POINTS:  Groups who do best at this exercise talk about the staging of the scene (how lighting, camera angles, and background music, for instance, intensify the scene) and about the characters' motivations in the story and its theme. Hint: Lots of glitzy photos from the Web don't mean as much as interesting notes about the acting, the actors, the staging of a play.

Suggested Division of Labor for a Group Presenting a Movie Scene (speaking time = 2 minutes each, about 300 - 400 words -- but not reading to us)  FYI: In the sample linked below regarding a scene from Hamlet, samples for items 1 - 3 are on one page of a possible group handout and the sample for item 4 is on a separate page.  The fifth (optional) item isn't about Hamlet; instead, a student has allowed me to use his sample.

  1. Find a biography (or better an interview) of the star or director and paraphrase highlights for the group's handout, especially anything related to performance in this movie.  Speak an interesting and relevant anecdote or two about the actor.  Transcribe the dialog from the scene for marking by the group members who do #2 and #3.  Example = Hamlet confronting Ophelia

  2. Analyze the performance of one actor in the scene, focusing on gestures, voice, body language--anything the actor uses to convey complex emotions or carry off action in a scene.  Mark the dialog transcription for highlights, e.g. volume, a particular gesture or facial expression or other action.  Example: See column 2 notes in Hamlet confronting Ophelia.

  3. Analyze the director's use of props (are any symbolic?), costume, lighting, camera angles, set, sound, and music to enhance this scene, bring out its emotion or action, and tie in with a theme of the film, complicate or resolve the conflict, or set the tone.  Example:  See column 3 notes in Hamlet confronting Ophelia.

  4. Find production stills relevant to the scene (or capture from a trailer?), include one or two in the group's handout, and tell any of the features from #2 or #3, above, illustrated by the still.  Example: Critique of Kenneth Branagh's 1996 Hamlet

  5. (Technology Options): Make a PowerPoint or a web page/site to highlight ideas from 1 - 4; tell about the decisions and highlights of making the PowerPoint or web, including colors appropriate for the movie, typing in the dialog from the scene, anClick to download and open a PowerPoint slideshow.d other how-to aspects and design decisions.  Example = for 13 Days  (link is to a PowerPoint file that should open in your browser; click your mouse's left button to show print on slides and to advance slides.  Used by permission of Roland Concepcion.)

  6. Extras: If you include a cast list, include identifying information for at least the major characters, and any relevant bibliographical note (source information, including URL and date you saw it, for instance).  If you include a summary of the whole movie, make it brief, and include a summary of your selected scene.

  7. Variation: Instead of a movie scene, you might act out and analyze a scene from a play that takes about 5 minutes to perform.  (Nobody has tried this option as of Spring, 2004.)  If you do have one, two, or more members of your group act out the scene, it would be appropriate to discuss some of the decisions they made about voicing, movement, use of props, facial expressions, pacing, and any other decisions made about staging the scene in a way that plays up a theme or idea in the play.

Presenting a Song: Many students come to this session with a cassette cued to a song or a CD that contains the song.  Students usually hand out lyrics for the song,  marked to show how emphasis is achieved for certain words or lines by the performance on the cassette or CD. For instance, students will code volume increases and decreases, when certain instruments come in or out, or rhythm and key changes, depending on their level of expertise in music.  MAXIMIZING POINTS:  Students have talked about the imagery in the song (after picking a song that was rich in images) and written in their handout how the performance brings out the theme of the song--or vice versa, talking about the performance we hear and writing about the poetic qualities of the song. Hint: Handout notes might also include information on the singer, the song's performance, the history or biography behind the song or poem; the marking of the song or poem to show how emphasis is achieved and what the emphasized words have to do with the theme.

Suggested Division of Labor for a Group Presenting a Song (speaking time = 2 minutes each, about 300 - 400 words -- but not reading to us)

  1. Find a biography (or better an interview) of the singer or songwriter and paraphrase highlights for the group's handout, especially anything related to composing or performing the song.  Speak an interesting and relevant anecdote or two about the singer or songwriter.  Transcribe the lyrics for marking by the group members who do #2 and #3.  Example = Amanda McBroom's "The Rose."

  2. Analyze the performance of the singer focusing on vocal quality and volume--anything the singer uses to convey complex emotions or set the tone of the song.  Mark the lyrics for highlights.  Example = Amanda McBroom's "The Rose." Only italics are used on the sample.

  3. Analyze the arrangement, the use of instruments, including the volume, and how these tie in with a theme or set the tone.  Example = Amanda McBroom's "The Rose."

  4. Look at the poetic qualities of the song, e. g. imagery

  5. (Technology Options): Make a PowerPoint or a web page/site to highlight ideas from 1 - 4; tell about the decisions and highlights of making the PowerPoint or web, including colors appropriate for the movie, typing in the lyrics and coding them for singer and arrangement, and other how-to aspects and design decisions, perhaps even linking to a sound file of the song online.  Example = for 13 Days  (link is to a PowerPoint file that should open in your browser; click your mouse's left button to show print on slides and to advance slides)

Equipment for Presenting in Person on Campus: , I'll need at least a week of lead time to reserve equipment once you notify me of your needs. Equipment on hand can be---

  • a VCR with monitor (TV)--but I can't guarantee whether it will count "units" or time
  • a DVD with monitor, which can play video DVD or music CD
  • a boombox that can play music on cassette or CD. 
  • a computer-on-a-cart to show a PowerPoint presentation
  • a computer-on-a-cart with a fast connection to the Web for showing a website

We'll have a "tech" rehearsal--examining the equipment and trying it out to minimize fumbling and foul ups.  But we will also be patient about setting up when it's time for you to talk.

Fielding Questions:  If your classmates or I see an opening where you can pick up more points, we will ask you a question to give you the chance to boost your grade for the presentation by boosting the information level of your presentation.

Reminders:

  • Bring your 5 handouts (or get 1 to me in advance and I'll get it copied) and bring the videotape, music cassette, or CD.
  • Your spoken analysis must be more than half of your presentation.  Your spoken analysis earns points, not the showing of a scene or playing a song on a CD or cassette, no matter how dramatic the scene is.
  • This exercise fulfills the speech requirement for the course and counts up to 100 points. Presentation methods should include handouts (such as  lyrics marked to show scansion or performance), transparencies (such as lists of main topics), or other media to clarify your analysis.   
  • Class members who are present will be asked to write notes for you about what they liked in your presentation and to recommend the top 3 presentations to me for 5 bonus points.

Ham-Gert.gif (8320 bytes)rose2.gif (3901 bytes)Amanda.gif (19824 bytes)Mel Gibson as Hamletco1s.jpg (5825 bytes)

The presentations are "application questions."  That is, they require students to take considerations from the course materials, including a textbook, and apply them to contemporary works, closer to the kinds of literary products they will look to for the rest of their lives for entertainment than to the anthologized classics in their course text. 

Reasons for Requiring Presentations:

  • Students are required to do presentations so that they can demonstrate their ability to carry out a "one-sided conversation" about a work they have considered and reconsidered.
  • Students act as guides on a work for their classmates, considering not just "likes" and "dislikes" (emotional reactions) and not just the ideas of a work, but also helping their classmates and the teacher to see the quality of the work.
  • Students field questions from the teacher or classmates (as time allows) to augment or clarify aspects of the work that have occurred to their listeners as a result of their presentation.
  • Being able to present your views of a topic you have studied thoroughly to a group of interested colleagues and a supervisor in an organized way is one of the hallmarks of professionalism.
  • Being able to synthesize a large amount of information, observations, even conflicting viewpoints and alternative explanations into a coherent and organized overview is one of the hallmarks of education.

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