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Individual 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).  YOU HAVE TO TALK, but not as part of a group. 

Details for Individual Presentations Using Technology:  Pick ONE.

  • Audio Review:  YOU MAKE A SOUND FILE, probably a .wav file.  If you have a microphone, you can use the audio recorder that comes with Windows to record a review, but you may be limited to recording no more than 60 seconds at a time in one sound file.  You can and should write a script for this spot, but your reading should be both rehearsed and enthusiastic. 
  • Infomercial:  Well, not exactly.  This task will involve some scrounging and creativity, as well as  recording video and sound with a camcorder, if you have access to one (each minute involves about 200 spoken words).  Pick a story or poem for which props are very important, such as Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" or Susan Glaspell's short play Trifles.  Explain the symbolism of some of those objects in the story while holding the objects.  You're not trying to sell us M-16s or cherry preserves, but you are trying to persuade viewers that your view of the symbolism of each object is reasonable.  How many objects is enough?  That depends on your thesis: maybe one, maybe three objects that fit together for comparison and contrast.  In Trifles, maybe the preserves and the canary fit together as symbols that define Minnie Foster Wright.  In "The Things They Carried," maybe the drugs, the letters, and the pantyhose fit together to define "escape" from the war.  (Use a bag of oregano to simulate marijuana, please, if you decide you want to try this thesis.)

    To give you some ideas, you might look in the Trifles archive in the Litonline webs regarding

    If you can't get access to a camcorder or other videotape maker, here's an alternative: Make a story board (poster) of still pictures (Polaroid is OK and you know immediately if the picture turned out) of each prop.  Put each picture in a sequence on the poster board with the script (what you would say if you were holding the prop and telling about its importance to the story) for that shot below it.  Make an audio recording of you saying the script in that sequence.  Together the stills and the audio will simulate a video well enough.

  • Telephone Discussion:  Prepare your ideas about one of the works in our textbook (use the checklist), email me which work you wish to discuss, and arrange with me time and phone number where you will call me so that we can discuss the work.  You should be ready to carry the conversation, though I will feel free to ask plenty of questions to prompt further analysis on your part. 

    I can't accept collect calls, if you are in long-distance range, so you have to absorb the cost on your phone bill or with a phone card; plan to converse about 20 minutes.

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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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