Final Presentations for English 507
We've managed to cover a bit of ground this semester. The purpose of your final presentation (which assumes the form of a collaborative panel of three or four people) is to at once reflect on that learning and exhibit what you've done (including how that work relates to your final essay).
The presentation should be professional in character (e.g., as if you are presenting at a conference), well prepared and rehearsed, and simultaneously concrete (e.g., about what you did or made) and conjectural (e.g., what you could have or will do differently). A balance of the concrete and conjectural allows you to manage several things. First, you can point exactly to what you've done but also underscore the trajectories of your research (e.g., your final essay). Second, it allows you to acknowledge what you don't know but could learn or research. Third, it can enact a co-presence of theory and practice.
For you to:
- Practice presenting your work in an academic setting, to an audience of your peers.
- Receive feedback on your research prior to its submission (in the form of a final essay).
- Effectively collaborate with your peers in the articulation and expression of a key issue for your panel.
- Combine critical and creative approaches to the 507 theme, "Arguing with Computers."
- Persuasively combine various modes of presentation within a fixed timeframe.
- Demonstrate meta-cognitive reflection on the work you've done this semester.
- Anchor that reflection in evidence.
What You Should Include in Your Presentation
Each collaborative panel should:
- Be between twenty-eight and thirty minutes in duration, followed by a fifteen-minute Q&A period. To be clear, it should not be shorter than twenty-eight minutes or longer than thirty minutes.
- Consist of three or four students, each of whom presents (using whatever media) for roughly the same amount of time.
- Collectively, creatively, and critically blend modes of communication (e.g., reading from a paper, presenting slides, verbal communication, demonstrations of computational methods, screen-casting, or object/handout circulation).
- Be organized around a central, clear, and tangible issue central to "Arguing with Computers" (say, a particular problem, concern, theme, keyword, or method).
- Be uploaded (at least in part) to a GitHub repo (e.g., include slides, handouts, screen grabs, and papers; in short, push any evidence of what you've done).
By “collaborative” panel, I mean its design and implementation should be collaborative in character. Collaborative design may involve working together, as a group, to identify a shared concern or problem and structuring your panel accordingly. Collaborative implementation may involve having two or more people present at once (e.g,. one person speaking, one person navigating a website), or it may involve an approach to delivery that complicates the usual (and predictable) division of labour and delivery (e.g., each person speaking for ten minutes). Point being: be creative, and think seriously about the panel as a form of mediation. How you present (including content, style, and technologies used) is up to you. However, please keep in mind two things: (1) you should reflect on and assess what you learned during the entire seminar (meaning the presentation is not solely about your final essay), and (2) everyone participating in the roundtable will be given the same mark (meaning collaboration and communication are key).
Since your presentation is more or less a mock conference presentation, please assume your audience is not familiar with the particulars of your work. For instance, they may know about modernist literature, but they may not know anything about R or MALLET. Or, they may have heard about distant reading or deformance, but they may need your interpretation of it. Additionally, feel free to assume the hypothetical conference at which you are presenting welcomes panels that do not consist solely of papers read aloud. In fact, assume that the conference welcomes creative and collaborative approaches to issues in a given field. Here, the annual HASTAC conference is a great example.
A few tips (take them or leave them):
- Rehearse the thing (as a group, if you can). Rehearse it two or three times, even.
- Determine what needs to be presented or read exactly as it appears elsewhere (e.g., screen grabs and quotes).
- Memorize what you can (even if it's written directly in front of you).
- Point to influential work and projects in the field.
- Spend some time on your slides but also avoid whiz-bang effects (e.g., a slew of animated transitions).
- Save the presentation materials in various locations and formats.
- Give all of your materials a dry run (if only to make sure there are no technical hiccups).
- Unpack and interpret your visuals for your audience.
- During the presentation, avoid connecting more than one computer to the projector.
- During the presentation, consider a collaborative approach. For instance, one of you may be navigating a site or slide deck with another person speaks. Or, one of you may be demonstrating a computational method with another person explains that method.
- As you present, note what you are happy to address during the Q&A (if need be).
- Early on, give people an overview of what you'll be presenting.
- Make eye contact with people in the audience. And don't forget that you have an audience.
- Toward the end, a recap of what you presented might be necessary (especially since you are presenting for thirty minutes).
- It's ok to repeat key points.
- If you are including dynamic content (especially video or visualizations on the web), then practice using them beforehand. Also consider using local media wherever possible. Relying too heavily on the internet can cause problems.
- If you are navigating your audience through a web-based project, then avoid moving (e.g., clicking, scrolling) too quickly.
- If you've been to an academic conference, then recall whose presentations left the strongest impression on you and determine why they did.
- Don't forget a gesture of thanks to people who have supported your research this semester (e.g., create a thank you slide).
- You know this stuff well, but your audience may not (e.g., explain your terms, give quick overviews where necessary).
- Have fun and be creative with it. Seriously. Presentations can be a lot of fun.
- For the Q&A, have a few spare materials (e.g., extra slides, a bonus paragraph, or even a handout) handy. Keep something persuasive in your pocket, especially if it's something that will address a question your work tends to spark.
- Do not, do not, do not go over time.
Be in touch if you have questions or want to run an idea by me. Please do not be late for the presentations, and please take notes during them (so that you have a question or two prepared). Thanks, everyone! I'm really looking forward to these. And again, let me know how I can help.