presentations will be at the heart of our discussions about the
topics at hand and their success will depend upon your preparation
for and participation in the presentations and discussions. Your
preparation (whether you are presenting the reading or participating
in the discussion led by classmates) should include
doing the reading prior to the class discussion;
key terms that frequently occur, and asking yourself what
they mean and how they're used;
if there are different schools of thought on the topic and
what the different arguments "for" and "against"
a list of points you want to raise and the questions you want
to ask before you go to the seminar.
Can students really have an opinion? Many students feel that,
having only done a few hours of reading on a topic, they can not
argue against an author who is the "authority" on the
topic. You should realize that one of the main purposes of a Classics
education is to enable students to read rapidly and to evaluate
critically what they read. As you grapple with a topic, consider
when was the piece written? does it reflect the views of its
time in any way?
what intellectual standpoint (Marxist, conservative, feminist,
nationalist, etc.) was it written?
- who wrote
it? Where is the author located? What other scholarship has
the author published?
- what previous
scholarship does the author employ? Does the author aim to
support or refute previous scholarship?
- for whom
is it written - who are the audiences? Both Galinsky's study
on Augustan Culture and his edited collection of
essays in the Cambridge Companion series aim at a
specific readership. How does that affect how you read and
interpret your piece?
- is the piece
theoretical in nature? How does the author structure the essay?
- what contribution(s),
if any, does the author make to the scholarly discourse on
does it omit? Does the author ignore religious, economic,
intellectual, social, cultural or literary perspectives? Whose
voices are ignored?
A directed discussion is neither a research paper nor an essay,
but an opportunity to guide your classmates' consideration of
issues and introduce and provoke discussion. With that in mind,
give your presentation a clear structure. State its theme,
make the central section easy to follow (you might bullet
the main points in a handout or Powerpoint presentation),
and make the conclusion sharp and controversial when possible.
the discussion coherently. When you present the main points
and interject into the discussion, speak clearly and slowly
and to the group, not down at your notes.
to the topic. Do not give lots of detail and do not pad out
your directed discussion with irrelevancies. DO NOT SUMMARIZE
WHAT YOU HAVE READ. Assume that all of us have read the piece
and are familiar with the factual details of the topic.
your plan to lead the discussion with your partners, since
the readings connect to a general theme for that specific
class meeting. Avoid reiterating what your partners have to
say; you can, however, reinforce a point that appears in more
than one reading.
Your preparation for a directed discussion is neither a research
paper nor an essay and so it need not be in narrative form. Its
purposes are to help you guide your classmates through a discussion
and to focus your thoughts for your presentation. Your direction
should lead the class to further thoughts or questions worthy
of our consideration; thus, it should create an opening for continuing
exploration, rather than closure.
points to remember:
arrive on time, whether you are presenting or participating.
Have a copy of all of the texts, a copy of your notes and
a watch/clock handy.
carefully and take notes during the discussion, but you're
there to participate, so keep your notes succinct during the
discussion and write them out more fully after class.
the discussion early on and often (commenting on a portion
of the reading is a good place to begin) so that you don't
feel like a spectator.
don't always have to be negative or critical; you can intervene
to agree with someone. You can also state your agreement with
a classmate to introduce another point or question.
QUESTIONS IF YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND SOMETHING. If you're confused,
others probably are as well.
be embarrassed by silences. Short pauses will occur, particularly
when an issue has been exhausted. This is a good opportunity
to look at your notes and see if you have other questions
or points you wish to make.