Researched Oral Presentation

Grade Breakdown

15% of the Total Grade. If you do not complete this assignment and earn a zero on this portion of the total grade, you would need to get As on every other assignment to earn a B- at the end of the term.

Assignment Overview

Your researched oral presentation represents a substantial portion of your grade. You may choose to do a collaborative presentation or an individual presentation. If you choose to work with a peer on a collaborative presentation, each group member must present on one facet of a larger topic. Before your presentation, each presenter - or group - must meet with me for about 10 minutes, when I will give you some advice on research, help on interpreting the material, advice on finding a way to apply it to our reading, and suggestions for presentation.

Each student will have 10 minutes to present on a research topic of his/her choice relevant to the play or plays currently assigned. Your research presentation should be based on at least one approved scholarly source, located in the Library (NOT on the web!). You may choose to supplement that presentation with a video clip or an image, however, many of which can be found in the library, in a video store, and online.

Presentation Options

Cultural Context of Your Choice

You may choose to work on a topic that interests you, a historical or cultural context important for the plays we're reading. In the past, students have chosen to present on topics like the plague in Ancient Greece as a cultural context for Oedipus Rex, the historical and cultural significance of carnival for our reading of The Rover, middle class interior design as a context for Tartuffe, or the theory of postmodernism for our reading of Beckett. For this option, you will be presenting on how that context helps us understand some part of the play we're working on.

One way to discover these cultural, historical, literary, or social contexts is to choose something mentioned in your textbook; you may also surf the web for a starting place (note: that reads "starting place"!) by looking up the playwright, the play, or the time period; you may also browse a library database for interesting topics related to the playwright, the play, or the time period.

Once you've discovered your topic, find some resources in the library that will help you understand it. Read them carefully, and consider how they inform your reading of the play. Present on your topic, being sure to show how it helps you understand the play. This option is best for group presentations, but it may be completed individually, as well.

A Book or a Scholarly Article Interpreting a Play

If you are concerned about time and content, you may choose to select a book chapter, essay, or journal article that interprets a play we're reading. Read the chapter/essay/article closely, and present its argument accurately to your peers as an interpretation of the play. This option will require you to move beyond the general and well into the specific.

You might start with Cambridge companions—these are collections of essays, often about individual texts. You might also find a book of essays in the library resources pages that deals specifically with one of the plays we're reading. However, you will likely find the MLA international bibliography database the best place to start, as it indexes essays and articles on literary topics. The text you've chosen must be scholarly and it must be about a particular play.

Once you've found your scholarly text, read it carefully, and present the author's argument in a clear, accurate, and accessible manner. This option is best for individuals who like to work alone, but it may be completed in a group, as well.

Requirements for Both Options

Annotated Bibliography

Prepare an annotated bibliography for your oral presentation, containing an MLA-formatted bibliographic entry for each of your resources and an annotation that summarizes for content and purpose. Your annotated bibliography will need to be completely formatted according to MLA conventions, from the very top of the page to the last word in your annotation. Each student should have at least one entry, and no more than three. Distribute your annotated bibliography to the class.


Individuals should present for 10 minutes. If you are working with a group, each student should present for 5 minutes, with a group component that ties the individual presentations together - this group component should consist of approximately 3 minutes of introduction and 3 minutes of conclusion. I will be grading the presentations primarily on the content and quality of the research, but I will also be looking carefully at your organization and your presentation style. Each group must also be prepared for questions and discussion!

Due Date

Each student will sign up for a presentation date that falls within the scheduled period for discussion of the play that interests you. Your presentation and annotated bibliography will be due on that day.

Audience Information

A presentation is only as good as its audience is receptive and engaged! Therefore, I will also be grading your participation throughout the class, including during your peers' presentations. You do not have to ask questions or otherwise comment on every peer presentation, no more than you need to ask questions or comment in class every day; however, I will be expecting you to participate throughout the term in a responsible fashion. Please be respectful to your peers, and they will be respectful when it's your turn!

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