LITR 4326 Early American Literature

Student Presentations

Poetry Reader

Before class . . .

Pre-read poem, practice pronunciations. Don't stop while reading and ask instructor how to pronounce a word.


Presentation: (time: 8-12 minutes for formal presentation; discussion may continue indefinitely)

Warning: Don't assume that other students in the class have read the poem you're presenting. You have to introduce the poem, read it aloud, and make it happen for them on the spot.

Student location: Discussion-starter may work from front of class or remain seated. (Instructor can help with web or projection issues.)

Students may prepare PowerPoint slides or comparable on-screen projections for this assignment, but not required.

Briefly introduce poem: author, date, context, familiarity or difficulty. (Don't go on for long about author's life and about how that's what the poem is about (biographical fallacy)

Announce leading point or theme in your interpretation, or preview the question you'll ask the class to begin discussion. (see below)

    Possibly relate to other readings that day or otherwise (intertextuality)

    Relate to a course objective or another topic raised in class

Read poem aloud (practice pronunciations—also, try to read with rhythm, feeling—avoid "flat-voice effect")



Ask 1-2 question(s) to begin discussion (students are ready to discuss soon after the reading, so don't lose the moment)


The question should follow from your reading, but it may also appeal more broadly to the challenges that the text may present to the class.

Question may refer to other class readings.

More than 1 question is advisable. If students don't rise to first question, offer second.

Wait for students to answer. Don't panic. Some students wait to see if others will go first.