Author Presentation Assignment

Presentation Assignment Example

Below is another example of a presentation and group project. It requires groups to read a text not assigned in class and then give a presentation on it using specified criteria. Following the assignment, you will find a list of potential texts for students to choose from as well as a sample grade sheet:

Spring 2009

Collaborative Paper & Presentation

Fifteen percent of your semester grade will be determined by a collaborative paper (1,200-1,800 words) that you write with two or three of your classmates (10%), and a 15-20 minute presentation that you perform in front of the class to demonstrate what you learned while writing the paper together (5%). The paper should address a twentieth-century writer, novel, or story collection that we weren’t able to read together as a class, but whose work would readily fit into our discussions. What lasting contributions have this writer and his or her writing made to the world? Why, in a future twentieth-century fiction class, should this writer’s work be included as required reading?

A list of potential writers and books is available in the Writing Studio FILE FOLDERS, but if your group would prefer to study a different writer or book, please contact me. Your group should arrange to meet somewhere during the next class period to discuss its interests and options. Please email me by Friday with your group’s chosen author so that I can help you begin to think about research possibilities.

Each paper must include the following basic features:

  • 1200-1800 words of argument (Works Cited page does not count)
  • Well-supported argument interpreting the significance of a writer’s work
  • Critical context, including historical, biographical, and/or cultural
  • Attention to questions raised by critics about the writer’s work
  • Statements by the writer in question
  • Concrete and specific language
  • Six or more sources, at least five of which must be secondary (not by your writer)
  • Parenthetical in-text citations formatted according to MLA, “Like this” (Bowen 19).
  • A list of Works Cited, formatted according to MLA

Each presentation must include:

  • Fifteen to 20 minutes of presentation time
  • Visual aids, such as overheads or PowerPoint material
  • Participation in roughly equal measure by each group member
  • Well-supported argument interpreting the significance of a writer’s work
  • Critical context, including historical, biographical, and/or cultural
  • Attention to questions raised by critics about the writer’s work
  • Statements by the writer in question
  • Critical connection to the writers and novels we’ve been studying

Each member of the group will receive the same grade on both research paper and presentation (unless someone fails to participate in the presentation, which = 0%), so the group must ensure that everyone does a fair share of the required work.

Twentieth-Century Fiction
E238.11, TR 4:00-5:15
Some Notable Twentieth-Century Authors


Some Prominent Works

Abish, Walter

Alphabetical Africa; Minds Meet; In the Future Perfect

Aiken, Conrad

Blue Voyage

Alison, Dorothy

Bastard out of Carolina

Anderson, Sherwood

Winesburg, Ohio; Dark Laughter

Apple, Max

Zip; Free Agents

Auster, Paul

City of Glass; In the Country of Last Things; Moon Palace

Baldwin, James

Go Tell It on the Mountain; Giovanni’s Room; Another Country

Banks, Russell

Success Stories; Affliction; The Darling

Barnes, Djuna


Barth, John

The Floating Opera; The Sot-Weed Factor; Giles Goat-Boy; Chimera

Bellow, Saul

Henderson the Rain King; Herzog; Humboldt’s Gift; A Thief; Ravelstein

Bowen, Elizabeth

The Death of the Heart

Bowles, Paul

The Sheltering Sky; Let It Come Down; Three Tales; Too Far from Home

Boyle, T. C.

Greasy Lake; The Tortilla Curtain; Drop City; Talk Talk; Tooth and Claw

Buck, Pearl S.

The Good Earth

Bukowski, Charles

Tales of Ordinary Madness; Ham on Rye;

Bulgakov, Mikhail

The Master and Margarita

Burroughs, William S.

The Naked Lunch; The Ticket that Exploded; Nova Express; Cities of the Red Night

Capote, Truman

Other Voices, Other Rooms; In Cold Blood

Carr, Caleb

The Alienist

Cather, Willa

O Pioneers!; My Anotnia; Death Comes for the Archbishop

Chabon, Michael

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

Chandler, Raymond

The Big Sleep; The Long Goodbye

Cheever, John

The Short Stories of John Cheever

Conrad, Joseph

Heart of Darkness; Lord Jim; The Secret Agent; The Secret Sharer

Coover, Robert

Pricksongs & Descants; The Public Burning; A Night at the Movies

Cortazar, Julio

Hopscotch; Blowup and Other Stories

DeLillo, Don

White Noise; Libra; The Body Artist; Falling Man

Dixon, Stephen

Fall & Rise; Garbage; Love and Will; Gould; 30: Pieces of a Novel

Doctorow, E. L.

The Book of Daniel; Ragtime; World’s Fair; The Waterworks; City of God

Dos Passos, John

Manhattan Transfer; The 42nd Parallel; Mid-Century

Dreiser, Theodore

Sister Carrie; Jennie Gerhardt; An American Tragedy

Elkin, Stanley

Boswell; A Bad Man; The Living End; George Mills; The Magic Kingdom

Ellison, Ralph

Invisible Man

Erdrich, Louise

Love Medicine; The Beet Queen; Tracks

Ford, Richard

The Sports Writer; Rock Springs

Forster, E. M.

A Passage to India

Gardner, John

Grendel; The Sunlight Dialogues; Mickelsson’s Ghosts

Gilchrist, Ellen

In the Land of Dreamy Dreams; Vistory Over Japan

Gordimer, Nadine

July’s People

Gordon, Mary

Men and Angels; Temporary Shelter; Spending; Pearl

Greene, Graham

The Heart of the Matter; The Power and the Glory

Gurganus, Allan

Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All; Plays Well With Others

Hammett, Dashiell

The Maltese Falcon; The Thin Man

Heinlein, Robert H.

Stranger in a Strange Land

Heller, Joseph

Cath-22; Something Happened

Irving, John

The World According to Garp; A Prayer for Meany Owen

Ishiguro, Kazuo

Remains of the Day

James, Henry

The Wings of the Dove; The Ambassadors; The Golden Bowl

Jong, Erica

Fear of Flying; How to Save Your Own Life; Inventing Memory

Joyce, James

Dubliners; A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Kennedy, William


Kesey, Ken

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; Sometimes a Great Notion

Kingston, Maxine Hong

The Woman Warrior

Lawrence, D. H.

Sons and Lovers; The Rainbow; Women in Love

LeGuin, Ursula

A Wizard of Earthsea; The Left Hand of Darkness

Lessing, Doris

The Golden Notebook

Lewis, Sinclair

Main Street; Babbitt

Llosa, Mario Vargas

The Time of the Hero; The Green House; The War of the End of the World; Death in the Andes

London, Jack

The Call of the Wild; Martin Eden

Lowry, Malcolm

Under the Volcano

Lurie, Alison

Imaginary Friends; Foreign Affairs

McCarthy, Mary

A Charmed Life; The Group; Cannibals and Missionaries

Mailer, Norman

The Naked and the Dead; The Deer Park; An American Dream; The Armies of the Night

Malamud, Bernard

The Natural; The Magic Barrel; The Fixer

Momaday, N. Scott

House Made of Dawn; The Way to Rainy Mountain

Moore, Lorrie


Munro, Alice

Lives of Girls and Women; Open Secrets; The Love of a Good Woman

Naipaul, V. S.

A House for Mr. Miswas, A Bend in the River

O’Connor, Flannery

Wise Blood; A Good Man Is Hard to Find; Everything that Rises Must Converge

Olsen, Tillie

Tell Me a Riddle

Ozick, Cynthia

The Cannibal Galaxy; Shawl

Paley, Grace

The Little Disturbances of Man; Later the Same Day

Percy, Walker

The Moviegoer; Love in the Ruins; The Second Coming

Piercy, Marge

Woman on the Edge of Time; Fly Away Home

Pynchon, Thomas

V.; The Crying of Lot 49

Rand, Aynd

Atlas Shrugged; The Fountainhead

Reed, Ishmael

The Free-Lance Pallbearers; Mumbo Jumbo; Flight to Canada

Robinson, Mailynne

Housekeeping; Gilead

Roth, Philip

Portnoy’s Complaint; The Great American Novel; The Plot Against America; Everyman

Rushdie, Salmon

Midnight’s Children; The Satanic Verses

Silko, Leslie Marmon


Singer, Isaac Bashevis

Grimpel the Fool; The Manor; The King of the Fields

Smith, Lee

Fair and Tender Ladies; Me and My Baby View the Eclipse

Stegner, Wallace

Big Rock Candy Mountain; Angle of Repose; Crossing to Safety

Stein, Gertrude

Three Lives

Steinbeck, John

Of Mice and Men; The Grapes of Wrath; East of Eden

Stone, Robert

Dog Soldiers; Children of Light; Bear and his Daughter

Styron, William

Lie Down in Darkness; Sophie’s Choice

Sukenick, Ronald

The Death of the Novel and Other Stories; Blown Away

Tan, Amy

The Joy Luck Club

Taylor, Peter

Collected Stories; Summoned to Memphis

Theroux, Paul

The Mosquito Coast; The London Embassy; Chicago Loop

Toole, John Kennedy

A Confederacy of Dunces

Updike, John

Rabbit, Run; The Centaur

Vidal, Gore

The City and the Pillar; Myra Breckinridge; Hollywood; Creation; Live from Golgotha

Vonnegut, Kurt

Cat’s Cradle; Slaughterhouse-Five; Galapagos

Walker, Alice

Meridian; You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down; The Color Purple

Warren, Robert Penn

All the King’s Men

Waugh, Evelyn

A Handful of Dust; Scoop

Welty, Eudora

A Curtain of Green

West, Nathaniel

Miss Lonelyhearts; The Day of the Locust

White, Edmund

A Boy’s Own Story; The Beautiful Room is Empty

Wideman, John Edgar

Damballah; Philadelphia Fire

Wolfe, Thomas

Look Homeward, Angel; You Can’t Go Home Again

Wolff, Tobias

The Barracks Thief

Woolf, Virginia

Mrs. Dalloway; To the Lighthouse

Yates, Richard

Revolutionary Road; Young Hearts Crying

Tom, Dick, and Harry

Collaborative Presentation Feedback

3--        Writer’s Significance (X5): Demonstrates the importance of the writer and his work to both twentieth-century literature in general and to at least one specific novel we’ve discussed in class by carefully comparing dominant themes, artistic struggles, critical approaches, and/or reception by critics. 

5--        Critical Context (X3):  Presents historical, biographical, and cultural background that helps the audience to situate the writer in the important world events and artistic questions of his time.
4--        Presentation Mechanics (X2): Group members each present for a roughly equal portion of 15-20 minutes, and the visual aid(s) presented to the audience effectively help to inform and expand the audience’s grasp of the writer’s “Significance” and/or “Context,” above.


TOTAL 38 / 50pts       76%

Comments:      The critical context provided on Hunter Thompson’s rise to cult status and the impact of the 1960s counter-culture on his writing, especially on Fear and Loathing, was the strongest and most compelling portion of this presentation. Each member spent a little over five minutes presenting this information, but the visual aids, pictures from Thompson’s youth, added only a little to the critical context of the presentation. More interesting might have been examples of the artwork done by Ralph Steadman that you mentioned several times has been associated with Thompson’s writing and his “Gonzo journalism” in general. The presentation also might have made stronger connections between Thompson’s work and those of his contemporaries and others who came later to be associated with the “New Journalism” his work helped to define—Joan Didion, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, and much more recently William T. Vollmann and David Foster Wallace. New Journalism was hardly mentioned, in fact, much less defined or described. And what was Thompson’s connection to the work we’ve discussed this semester? To the “magical realism” of Garcia Marquez, for instance, or Fitzgerald’s portrait of the “American Dream” sought in The Great Gatsby?

Presentation Assignment Example

The following is an example of an individual presentation assignment and a group presentation. The individual presentation assignment explains that students will give two presentations over the semester on a topic of the student's choice. The student should submit a 1 to page paper explaining the presentation also. The group presentation provides four areas of focus: interpretive approach, important issues raised by the text, a comparison to another work, and using a scholarly source to further understand the work. A handout follows the assignment that clearly explains the criteria.

  1. You will each be responsible for giving two presentations this semester.  The presentations should be between five and ten minutes long, and the topics will be of your own choosing.  Along with each presentation, please submit a 1-2 page paper that summarizes your topic.  I will return these to you with comments and a grade for your efforts.  Please take these presentations seriously as we will often use them as starting point for our class discussions.
  2. The collaborative group presentation will require you to: 1) share your interpretive approach; i.e., explain how you accessed the text to make it “mean.”  For example, was your interpretation influenced by one of the formal features of the novel (plot, point of view, etc.), by the presence of certain ideas or beliefs you related to, or a critical approach that helped you dis-entangle the complexities of the narrative? 2) identify, for discussion, the important issues and questions raised by the text; 3) contextualize the reading by relating it to another work by the same author, another contemporary text that invites comparison in terms of shared ideas, themes and "horizons" that respond in some way to the major concerns of the core text, or by locating it in some literary or paraliterary movement; 4) summarize a scholarly response to the work and try to identify the author’s critical approach.

Guidelines for Presentations

Equal Participation
Each team member should contribute equally. Teams will compile a list of major topics to be covered in their presentation, and assign one to each member to research and present. Each member should speak for approximately three to five minutes. The presentation can reflect the diversity of viewpoints of the presenters. Designate one team member as the team leader. This person will be responsible for introducing the presentation as a whole, and each presenter. The team leader will also summarize the presentation at its conclusion, and lead a class discussion.

Since grading is based on the presentation as a whole, team members should notify the professor before the date of the presentation if any member does not do their share. Shyness or stumbling do not negatively affect the grade.

Prepare Handouts
Team members may decide among themselves how to distribute the work of preparing the following information sheets.

  1. Things to Know -- One to two sheets listing major facts relevant to your topic, significant concepts, key points, terminology with definitions, and other interesting points of information_
  2. Quotes -- One sheet containing salient quotes from your readings, with explanations of their significance.
  3. References -- A compilation of references used for the presentations, including two or more for each presenter, written in MLA style, with one sentence summarizing the content of the text.

Many students elect to use PowerPoint. This is not absolutely required, but provision of some visual aids is helpful.

Class Presentation
Talk to us, don't read. You may use notes when you make your presentation, but you may not read from a fully written out text.
Here is one way to make a successful presentation:

  1. Do plenty of reading and research. Explore the topic as fully as possible. Make notes.
  2. Read over your notes, and think over the results of your reading.
  3. Discuss your results with your team members. Tentatively plan the presentation in its general outlines.
  4. On your own again, and setting notes aside, brainstorm and write down all the interesting ideas that you have come up with.
  5. Organize these ideas into a coherent sequence. Return to your notes and add any information relevant to your major ideas which will illustrate or explain them..
  6. Add an introduction, which tells what you will talk about, and a conclusion which sums up what you have discussed and learned. Cut out any irrelevant or uninteresting material.
  7. Meet with your team members to organize and streamline the presentation.
  8. Visualize yourself giving a talk to the class, going through all these ideas, in a comfortable and relaxed fashion. If you wish, practice talkingabout your subject to a mirror.
  9. Using only brief notes, give your presentation to the class and have fun!
  10. The team leader will also prepare a short general introduction to the presentation, lead-ins for each individual presenter, and a very brief possible conclusion, which may change according to how the presentations unfold.

Discussion Topic
Prepare three possible questions with which to lead a class discussion_ Designate one team member as the discussion leader. Other team members may contribute to the discussion, but the discussion leader will be responsible for organizing and controlling the discussion. Lead a discussion utilizing your prepared questions, along with any others which have occurred to you during the presentation. Conclude your presentation by opening the floor for questions and comments from the class audience.

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