36 Discussant Presentations – Assignment

Authors: allia abdullah-matta, Angel Dye, Shauna Morgan, Dave Wooley

Target Audience: Advanced Undergraduate

Discussant Presentation Guidelines

Your individual/partner group presentation is based on the assigned reading(s) for the given date on the course calendar. Construct a 5-7 minute presentation that addresses the reading and provides information that is beneficial to your classmates’ understanding of the given piece. Attempt to facilitate a discussion about the reading by offering keywords/concepts/ideas and framing significant issues. You may also use visual images and video clips as appropriate.

Your goal is to discuss and comment on the context of the text (poem) and how it connects to the larger theme(s) of the course. Examine the readings, pick out the main themes and important ideas, and develop a short presentation and essay (2-3 pages) on the topics. For the presentation, develop a clear discussion that demonstrates mastery of the readings. Focus on one or two key concepts or debates and pose specific questions to promote discussion.

For example, how does the text represent a Black aesthetic, culture, voice, and/or presence in the larger society? How might the text also provide commentary about the climate of race, class, gender, and politics in the society? If the text is connected to a specific moment in time or a literary moment (ex. Reconstruction or The Harlem Renaissance), provide a comment about how this is significant. Does the text teach us anything about the Black experience or literary presence?

You may refer to one of the following discussion questions to help you frame/complicate your consideration of the text:

Discussion Questions

  • How do we draw connections and distinctions among the key figures, voices, and influences of Black literary and political tradition(s)?
  • How do we engage literature as an example of cultural production—as informed by the historical predicament in which it is produced and also as it reflects upon history and culture?
  • What is the Black experience? How do poets and playwrights define and capture the complexities of the Black experience in the US/Americas?
  • What are the links between African American literary and cultural productions and the changes in the political and social landscape of the United States and the global Black world?
  • Do the struggle for freedom and the quest for self-definition shape the narratives which emerge within Black literary traditions?
  • What is resistance and how do African Americans (& African Diasporic peoples) exercise strategies of resistance?
  • How does the articulation of race—and its relationship to gender, sexuality, class, etc.—shift over time, and how is this reflected in the literature as possible representations of Black culture and communities?

Lastly, your discussion should connect the complexities of the text and/or moment in time to our contemporary understanding and/or the presence of these issues in American society. You should also offer 1-2 thoughtful and well-considered questions/prompts to provide a catalyst to the discussion of the day. Avoid prompts such as “How do you feel about…?” or “Did you like…?” These are much less productive questions than those that allow us to thoroughly interrogate, analyze, and examine the themes and issues being raised in the literature.

Please submit your written notes/analysis of the presentation. Though you may work on this with a partner, each person is an individual on the larger panel for that day and must submit their typed presentation/discussant notes on the day of the presentation.

You will receive two grades: one based on the caliber/depth of the written content submitted and the other on the quality of your presentation.


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The Furious Flower Syllabus Project: Opening the World of Black Poetry Copyright © 2024 by Anastacia-Reneé; allia abdullah-matta; Ariana Benson; Mary Beth Cancienne; Teri Ellen Cross Davis; Shameka Cunningham; Hayes Davis; Tyree Daye; Angel C. Dye; Brian Hannon; T.J. Hendrix; DaMaris B. Hill; Meta DuEwa Jones; Shauna M. Morgan; Adrienne Danyelle Oliver; Leona Sevick; James Smethurst; Dana A. Williams; L. Lamar Wilson; Carmin Wong; Dave Wooley; and Joanne V. Gabbin (preface) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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