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Theory Instructions

Page history last edited by Eric Leonidas 8 years, 4 months ago

ENG 298: Theory Presentation


(Please also see the separate assignment describing the accompanying paper.)


Though this is billed as a presentation on “theory,” what I really want is a good reading of a text, conducted as a group, and informed by a theoretical approach.  By “informed” I mean guided by a set of questions that pertain to one of the four theoretical approaches we’ve discussed: New Criticism, Deconstruction, Feminism, and Cultural Poetics.  Another group will present a reading based on research into an author's biography.


Here are the specific tasks:


Give the Class an Assignment (must be done at least TWO classes before your presentation--talk to me if you need photocopying)


•    Assign the class to read a primary text (a poem or short story).

•    Assign a secondary text.


You’ve done very well as a group and as individuals with short stories, and you have come a long way with lyric poems.  You may choose texts we have read or texts entirely new (though if they aren’t from our books you’ll have to provide me with a handout to photocopy). 


You’ll be using the secondary text to explain one or more concepts and raise questions.  1) You may use a text I have assigned out of GLT or Dobie (the handouts); 2) You may use an explanation of your theory that you find on your own (I can help); 3)  You may use a critical reading of a seemingly unrelated work and apply its concepts or questions to the text you have chosen (for example, the feminist reading of Heart of Darkness in our text may be useful in explaining a poem by Elizabeth Bishop).


Before Your Presentation


  • Create a link on the signup page to a new page.
  • On the new page, work as a group to put together a handout (see below).


During your presentation


  • Provide a handout that lists your questions and that describes any foundational concepts (and be sure to cite any sources you use in preparing the handout: facts, definitions, quotations, etc.).
  • Raise at least 3 critical questions that your reading will seek to answer.
  • Explain your reading of the text.
  • Generate class discussion.




The handout should guide you and your audience through the most difficult material.  It must have distinct sections:


  1. List the specific questions you want to put to your text. 
  2. Define specific terms (with references if you are quoting or paraphrasing any of our--or other--sources). For instance, you might provide a definition of paradox, indeterminacy, binary, gender, culture, etc.
  3. Explain your theoretical concepts and/or provide any additional information necessary to understand your questions or their application.   For instance, give historical information on specific social or cultural conditions, details from an author's life, longer quotations from theoreticians or other critics, etc.
  4. "Additional Resources."  Provide a few places, whether in print sources or on the web, that we might look to understand further your text, its author, your theory, the history of the period, etc.
  5. Works Cited.


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