Oral Presentations
Professor Dan White

Your presentations should be approximately 30 minutes in length. Your goal is to do two things:

  1. to communicate in an organized and engaging fashion the knowledge you have gained by doing research on your given topic
  2. on the basis of that knowledge, to present an argument about or interpretation of the materials we have read for that day.

During the remaining 20 minutes, we will have an open class discussion into which your presentation should lead. Be prepared to direct this discussion!

At the beginning of your presentation, you will distribute copies of an annotated bibliography, in perfect MLA form, containing five secondary sources that will inform your presentation. Only one of these sources may be from the internet. An annotated bibliography gives a brief description of the text in addition to the MLA documentation. One or two sentences should suffice; give the basic gist of the source and say specifically why or how it will be important to your presentation. If you leave the bibliography in my box the day before your presentation, I will have the copies made for you.


  1. Make sure your presentation has a clear argument. Think of the argument as akin to a thesis statement in a paper. The first part of your presentation, then, should describe the focus of your talk and lay out your argument for your audience. It will of course be necessary to provide background information -- biographical, historical, cultural -- but it should always be clear how such information relates to your ideas and interpretations, to your argument.

  2. I am extremely interested in presentation itself. You should be organized, engaging, and, above all, articulate. It is not easy to be all of these things at once. I suggest that you rehearse your presentation at least once in front of an audience. Ask for feedback: Did I say "like," "sort of," "you know," "um," &c.&c., too much? Was my organization evident and was the presentation easy to follow? Was I boring?

  3. I would also like you to demonstrate a command of the materials at hand. If there is something about which you are not sure, look it up or ask for help!

  4. Finally, please do not summarize our primary texts. We have all read them, presumably, and there is no need for presenters to paraphrase or summarize at all. As in a paper, you will need to refer to lines, scenes, characters, &c., but such references should be subordinated to your argument.

Peer Responses:

After each presentation, all students will fill out a brief response form in which they will evaluate your performance. In the class following your presentation, they will submit their responses to me. I will read them, write my evaluation, and give all these responses to you at our next meeting.

Please review these five questions carefully as you prepare your presentation. These are the questions to which your peers will respond, and both you and I will read their answers, so please do keep these questions in mind!


You will receive both an individual and a group grade, the average of which will be your overall grade for the presentation. At the end of the semester, I will count that overall grade as 20% of your final grade for the course.

Daniel E. White