Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Presentation and Handout Assignment


The goal of these presentations is for you to use the secondary reading or readings to open up questions about the week's primary reading. To prepare for this presentation you will closely read the secondary readings for the week and identify a key concept or theme from that week's reading (for instance, if you were doing the first week where the secondary reading is Giovanni Arrighi's Long Twentieth Century, you might identify "crisis" "periodicity" or "hegemony" as key terms or concepts). You will then use that key term or concept to analyse, engage with, or ask questions about the primary reading.

The presentation should consist of a short pre-amble (10-15 minutes max) in which you briefly identify, elucidate, and analyse your key concept, followed by a discussion of the import of that concept to that week's primary reading. You will then animate a conversation based on a couple of questions you pose to the class, key quotes you’d like the class to work through, or in the case of a film, scenes you’d like the class to look at or analyse.

Two important notes

1) You are not expected to be an expert on the text, the contexts, or do exhaustive research. I will always frame and contextualize the material before your presentation.

2) All questions must be cleared by me


There are two deliverables for this presentation

a) A handout for the class which should be one, double-sided sheet of paper (using a standard font like Garamond or Times New Roman, normal margins, 12pt font etc.). You are expected to show up to class with enough copies of your handout for everyone in class to have one.

The handout should consist of quotes from the primary, secondary, and suggested further reading, and can also include images or other material you find useful. The handout should also include key questions you’d like the class to consider.

b) A 500-word introduction to your handout, which is for me only. This can be a typed up version of your presentation or if you prefer a more informal presentation style you can think of it as a companion to your presentation, though the two should be closely linked.

Whilst not a formal academic essay, this introduction will do the same kind of work, and will be written in the same way and to the same standards as a formal essay. Like an essay: it will have something like a thesis statement (namely, a concise explanation of how you see your key concept illuminating that week's novel/short story/film); it will demonstrate your analysis and interpretation of the relevant texts; it will be spell-checked, edited, and well-written. Whilst the introduction should include some short quotes from the readings, it should mostly focus on your ideas (as there will already be extensive quotes in your handout).

Developing Good Questions:

Developing good discussion questions is a very difficult task and is one of the goals of this assignment. As with essays, a good discussion question will be analytical rather than descriptive or content-based. Ideally, your discussion questions should move beyond issues of content or character psychology (e.g. how does the character feel? why does the character make X decision? is this character good or bad?) to issues of theme, comparativism, or analysis. It is also often helpful to develop questions that ask your fellow students to compare and contrast (e.g. how does this novel draw on or subvert the tropes of the earlier road novels we've read? compare the fates or beliefs of the novel's two characters - are we supposed to come around to one of their perspectives?); analyse (what do the choices facing X character symbolise? what role does X play in this novel? what do we make of the recurring motif of water/fire/etc.?); cause and effect (what is the connection between X and Y?).


• You will sign up for your presentation during the first week of class.

• Plan to meet with me or email me about your presentation well ahead of time.

• Presentations will be evaluated on coherence, clarity, and understanding and use of key concepts. For more detail, see the attached rubric. I will provide feedback on your presentations within the week.

Your handout and introduction need to be uploaded as one document to Tabula by noon the Tuesday of your presentation otherwise it will be considered late and the usual penalties will be deducted.