Scarlet & Grey
Ohio State University
School of Music

Preparing Class Presentations

A class presentation is intended to convey the essential ideas and insights of the assigned author. Make certain you read the assigned readings. It is also often valuable to read additional writings by the same author that are not on the reading list.

Published reviews of the author's major books are the single most overlooked source of useful information. Book reviews are usually short, provide a thumbnail encapsulation of the author's main ideas, and also identify problems with the work. Book reviews are easy to find, and a good scholarly book typically generates three or more book reviews. Ask the librarian for assistance.

As part of your presentation, prepare a one-page handout for distribution in class. The handout will help you organize your presentation and provide useful notes for your fellow students. E-mail your notes to the Prof., so that the notes can be posted on the course web site. Avoid excessive quotation in your handout. Express ideas as plainly as you can. Don't quote passages merely because you don't understand what the author is saying.

Here are some links to previous student handouts used in other courses: Antonio Damasio and Peter Kivy.

Talk informally. Do not read verbatim your handout. Be prepared for interruptions -- such as questions, comments, or criticisms. Attempt to provide an accurate, yet understandable, summary of the author's main ideas. Use examples to help illustrate ideas in memorable ways. Begin by being as sympathetic as possible to the author. Where appropriate, relate the material to other ideas encountered in the course. End your presentation by identifying unresolved problems with the author's approach. Express your own views, and be prepared to defend them. A good presentation will lead naturally to discussion. Use your knowledge of the author to help inform and clarify the discussion.

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