Guidelines for Student Presentations

The primary aim of student presentations for discussion sections is to launch an engaging and fruitful discussion, not to summarize or lead the discussion.

1. Time. 15 minutes.

2. Content. Present 1 to 2 key points from among the selections for that meeting and raise 2 critical questions for discussion. Prepare a handout with your questions and appropriate quotations from the text you are citing. You do not have to cover all of the readings for that week. If there are several selections, you may choose freely those that you wish to discuss. You should observe the following points: a) Why are the points/ideas you have chosen for discussion important for understanding the significance of the work(s) in question? b) If these points are related to one another, how are they related? c) What questions do you have? These questions should help to launch the discussion. They might suggest disagreement with the author, lack of clarity (either on the part of the reader or the author), or some internal inconsistency in the author's ideas (apparent or real).

You should ask about points that are unclear to you. The presentation is not a test of your mastery of the material, and there will be many other students who do not understand parts of the reading. For example, you might say, "Daniel Boyarin claims that both gender and sex are culturally constructed, but it's not clear whether he believes there are no biological determinants. Can anyone tell whether he believes that sex is entirely a cultural construct or not?"

3. Style. Be sure to speak clearly and slowly enough so that everyone can understand. Take the time to explain your points fully. References to specific textual passages and page numbers are essential to ground the discussion. Illustrations and analogies can also be helpful in conveying your ideas.

4. Grading. The presentation is 10 percent of your grade. Your presentation will be graded on three areas: 1) Insight. Have you chosen good passages or ideas to help the class examine and understand the readings? Do you raise questions and issues that lead to fruitful discussion. 2) Preparation. Does your presentation show that you have considered the readings and the points you present carefully? 3) Style. Do you speak clearly, explain fully, and provide textual references? Do you make eye contact to make sure that the class is following what you are saying.