Professional/Academic Conference: Literature and Philosophy: Barack Obama

Professional/Academic Conference: Literature and Philosophy: Barack Obama

In weeks 10 and 11, we have asked each of you to give a seven minute presentation based on your research paper. This research paper should deal with a specific topic relating to the philosophical and literary questions we’ve explored in relation to Barack Obama. We are modeling these presentations after professional presentations at academic conferences such as the American Studies Association or the American Philosophical Association. These associations organize individual papers and presentations into panels where each panelist presents his/her paper and a panel chairperson moderates the discussion. At the professional level, each presenter talks for twenty minutes: we’re asking you for seven.

The function of these panels is to present the most recent research in the field, to bring scholars together to respond to each other’s work, and to help each scholar develop his/her arguments into fuller form.

Based on the proposals you give us, we will organize your papers into groups of 3 or 4. Once your panel has been formed, we ask that you contact each other and choose a panel chair to introduce each of you and field questions from the rest of the class. Your presentations will be judged on the following criteria:

  • having a clear focus on a specific, well-described, topic
  • having compelling, coherent reasons in support of your interpretation or conclusion
  • presenting solid research to support the argument
  • having a clear and lively presentation style, including good vocal delivery and good non-verbal elements such as eye-contact
  • using visual materials effectively, if applicable

A note on PowerPoint: if you plan to use PowerPoint be absolutely certain that doing so will improve your presentation. Please do not use this program simply to present text and, in particular, do not simply read from PowerPoint slides. If you do use PowerPoint, use it mainly to present visual aids.

Proposal: By April 28 please provide us with a one-page proposal that

  • describes your topic
  • identifies the primary texts that you will be dealing with
  • states a preliminary thesis (an arguable claim about the question, problem, theme or issue you are addressing)
  • poses questions about this thesis, and
  • suggests possible research resources

Although these proposals are preliminary, please be as specific as possible. This will help us assemble the most interesting panels.


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