Presentation Assignment

PechaKucha is a format of presentation in which you play 20 slides continuously through while you speak for 20 seconds about each slide. You will be using this format to present an image-driven argument about one of the three topics described below. Unlike your papers, the presentation is not designed to be a place for nuanced and complex argumentation. Think of it as a polemic instead – your goal is to have a simple, clear point that you present in an entertaining and engaging manner. Don’t necessarily pick the perspective that you feel is true or right, but rather one that you feel would be fun to defend. The goal is not really to ban certain books or argue for the freedom of the press, although that is what you will be doing on the surface. Rather, it is to study the mechanisms of making such arguments and how one might persuade and influence others regarding the influences of these texts.

There are three types of presentation to choose from that correspond to three different phases of the class.

1. Presentations 1-6, Jan 30-Feb 27th: “Think of the children!” or “Say no to censorship!”

Purpose: to incite discussion on a class text by polemically presenting either its bad influence on society, or by insisting on its value and the negative repercussions of censorship. You will be presenting on the texts we discuss in class on the date you pick for your presentation. When you sign up, indicate which perspective you are planning to take (“Think of the children!” or “Say no to censorship!”). If a work (i.e. Macbeth) is presented on more than once, it should be from two different perspectives.

2. Presentations 7-11, March 4-27th: Burn a book, save a book

Scenario: You are living in a post-apocalyptic intellectual commune among people who memorize books to save knowledge. A new member with near-photographic memory enters the commune, but she claims that she can only memorize one more book. Sacred texts of all the world’s religions have already been committed to memory. Every member of the commune gets a vote as to the book she should memorize – make your case about which book she should choose in your next library raid and why.

Alternately, you are a book-burner who has been caught by an intellectual commune and they want to execute you. Try to justify why you burned all of the copies of a particular book.

3. Presentations 12-17, April 1-22nd: Bad influences today

Purpose: Take a side and attempt to persuade the class to agree with you regarding a twentieth- or twenty-first century controversy over bad influences. For example, you might choose Tipper Gore’s push to label albums with explicit lyrics, or the creation of the MPAA ratings system, or the outcry over video games such as Grand Theft Auto.

Assessment: You will be graded on:

  • The number of slides and your ability to stay on track as they scroll behind you. Are there 20 unique slides that each advance after 20 seconds? (40%)
  • The persuasiveness of your argument, and how well you use the verbal and the visual to convey it. Do you choose striking pictures and explain them well? (25%)
  • How engaging your presentation is to the audience. Does your presentation generate discussion? Are your viewers bored by it, or does it hold their attention? (25%)
  • How smoothly your presentation runs. Do you have technical or mechanical errors that distract from your message? Do you need to turn around and look at your presentation? (10%)

You will be required to submit a copy of your presentation to me by email 24 hours before the class period in which you give the presentation.

Paper Expectations

All papers should adhere to MLA guidelines. They will use 12 point Times New Roman font. They should be double spaced with one-inch margins. You will email me your papers in a .doc or .docx format at If you do not have a word processor capable of saving files in this format, you may use Google Drive to convert your paper into .doc or .docx.

Papers are due before the class period of the day for which they are listed.

Only the final research paper will have a works cited/bibliography page.

  1. Explication papers
    Review pages 56-59 from Reading and Writing about Literature for detailed guidelines and an example.

    Paper 1: In 2-3 pages, perform a close reading on a poem or song that we haven’t discussed in class. The work you choose should be relatable to the theme of “influence” in some way.

    Paper 2: In 2-3 pages, perform a close reading on a text that is important to your final paper.

  2. Analysis papers
    Review pages 59-63 from Reading and Writing about Literature for detailed guidelines and an example.

    Paper 1: You have three choices. In 4-6 pages:
    a. Choose a moment in Macbeth and compare the way it is treated in the film version and the written text. Offer some thoughts as to why Polanski treated the scene in this particular way, and what effect it has on the audience.
    b. Choose a passage that uses figurative language in Areopagitica. Explicate the passage and relate it to the goals of the tract.
    c. A prompt of your choosing, discussed with me beforehand.

    Paper 2: In 4-6 pages:
    a. Choose a moment in Fahrenheit 451 and compare the way it is treated in the film version and the novel. You may revise and expand the short essay from our asynchronous virtual class.
    b. Discuss the theme of influence in Fantomina or “Parricide Punished.”
    c. A prompt of your choosing, discussed with me beforehand.

  3. Final paper Your final paper will be an 8-10 page revision and expansion of an analysis paper. It will incorporate at least five secondary sources, three of which must be books published by university presses.

Autobiographical Web Project

Using, you will construct a personal website. The website will have a home page that introduces you. It will contain three mini-essays about some object(s), event(s), person(s), or creature(s) of influence in your life. Each essay must be at least 300 words in length and must contain at least one image or video. You may determine layout, color scheme, and navigation. I suggest that you make use of the
special Writing Center services for Domain of One’s Own for advice about how to make a
visually appealing and clearly navigable website.