LITR 4340 American Immigrant Literature

Poetry reader / discussion leader


PowerPoint presentations (and other such programs) are discouraged. If you prefer to use PowerPoint (etc.), use only for materials not available on course website (e.g., your own questions or summaries of your points). Go directly to website for its materials (e.g., text passages, instructor's discussion questions, objectives, etc.).


Student location: Student may work up-front or remain seated; instructor can help with computer-projector.


Length: app. 8-12 minutes for presentation; Discussion may continue indefinitely.


Responsibility: You're not responsible for knowing everything about your poem. You may present questions of your own and ask for help.


Paper-copy handouts for students: Instructor provides.


Steps in poetry presentation—these can be varied.

Announce author, title, date, basic info on author's life, place in history or course. Preview themes, contexts, etc. in terms of course objectives, course terms, but especially preview discussion questions.


Don't dwell on author's biography beyond a few facts relevant to course—or ignore author's biography as inclined.


Don't feel responsible for covering every possibility of the poem's meaning.


Read poem aloud (practice pronunciations, look up unfamiliar words. Don't stop reading the poem to ask how to pronounce a word—ask before you start reading.


After reading aloud, review 2-3 parts of the poem that stood out or apply to discussion questions or Course Objectives.



Ask  question(s) to start discussion. Question(s) should follow from your interpretation or appeal more broadly to challenges in the text or intertexts with other class readings.


If questions are provided on poem's webpage, you may still ask your own questions, but please use at least one of the instructor's questions.


Lead discussion. You may follow up or re-start discussion with follow-up questions as prepared.


Conclude discussion by highlighting major points from discussion + relation to course objective


Single biggest aid to a good discussion: Start discussion as soon as possible after reading the poem. After hearing and sharing the poem, the class is ready to jump in and discuss. Usually the only discussions that "die" are the ones where the students have to wait too long to start talking.


Next biggest aid to a good discussion: Don't save questions and discussion for end, but mix in questions and discussion as presentation proceeds.

(Below are web-links to summaries of poetry presentations in earlier semesters--no longer required.)

Examples from 2007 Student Poetry Presentations

Examples from 2006 Student Poetry Presentations

Examples from 2003 Student Poetry Presentations