Scholarship Presentation

Each of you will lead class for about half an hour once during the semester. You’ll guide us through a conversation about a work of scholarship, either Richlin’s Slave Theater or Moore’s Theater of Plautus. You’ll summarize what you read, and host a conversation about it.


Read the Text

Your first step in preparation is to read the text you’ve been assigned to present on. Assigned readings are always linked from the course schedule, but can also be found here. Many scans will include more than the assigned reading, so be sure to read the course schedule carefully.

As you read, remember that you’re the only member of class who’ll be reading this section of the text. Your fellow students are relying on you to convey the most important details of the reading to them, so read carefully. Take thorough notes, considering some of the following:

  • What is the main argument of your reading?
  • What are the most important pieces of evidence and examples the author gives?
  • What steps can you break the argument down into?
  • What parts of the argument did you find confusing or difficult to understand?
  • What questions does the reading leave you with?

Plan Your Presentation

Take time to carefully plan your presentation. Consult with me (Prof. Farmer) and other members of the class. Think about the goals of your presentation, as well as the structure of the time. Here is a basic framework to get you started:

  • Begin by summarizing the reading. Remember that the rest of the class hasn’t done this reading, and probably won’t ever read it. Don’t try to convey every single detail: give us the big picture.
  • Next, select key ideas or passages from the reading you’d like to focus our attention on. Use a handout, slides, or photocopies to give us access to key moments in the text. Invite us into conversation: don’t simply lecture, but use discussion prompts and structured activities to get the class involved.
  • Make sure to bring some Plautus into the discussion. Consider sharing and contextualizing key pieces of evidence from Richlin / Moore’s work, with texts and translations. Even better, connect the ideas in their work to comedies the class has already read together, especially Poenulus or Amphitruo.
  • Finally, conclude by highlighting important takeaways. As we continue our reading of Plautus, Richlin, and Moore, what do we need to carry with us from your presentation to expand our understanding of these authors? Make sure you end on time – this requires both careful planning and generous flexibility!

Involve the Class

On the day of your presentation, the most challenging, but also the most important, thing you need to do is to involve the class in your presentation. Don’t simply lecture at us: get us collaborating with you. Here are a few structures that I’ve found can help us do that:

  • full class discussion
    • Don’t simply conclude your initial remarks and say “What do you think?”
    • Instead, to get the full class involved in conversation, make sure you have clear questions students can respond to.
    • Consider moving from simpler or more concrete questions towards more involved or abstract questions.
    • Consider offering your discussion questions in advance, so that students can reflect on them while doing the reading.
  • free writing: provide a prompt, and give students 3-5 minutes to write silently. Have students then offer their observations directly to the class, or – even better – first share with a partner.
  • small groups: assign students to small groups. Give each group the same prompt to discuss, or different prompts. Then invite each group to present their results to the class. Move from group to group to answer questions, prompt deeper thinking, and monitor progress.
  • cascading groups: start students with partners and offer a prompt for discussion. Then have groups of partners combine with others to form larger groups. Culminate in a reunion of the whole class.
  • brainstorming: have students freely contribute thoughts or questions to a running list. Consider having them free write first or submit questions to you via note cards. Follow up by having students organize the list (with venn diagrams, categories, tags, etc) or identify trends or groupings.
  • games or performances: learning can be fun and still have a serious purpose. Consider designing a brief game that helps students find their way into your material, or have students bring chosen primary texts to life with readings, performances, or illustration.
  • annotation: have students focus on key passages or images from your assigned readings, and collect details or observations around a theme you identify.
  • debate: assign students to sides of an argument that they can use your assigned readings to make a case for. Give each side time to use your readings to identify key points, then ask them to offer those points back and forth as a class.

Throughout your presentation, make time for questions and reflection. Build in ways for students to ask you questions during or at the end of your class session. Summarize and reflect back the students’ observations, and share your own thoughts about how your ideas have evolved during the lesson.


Within one week of your presentation, please email me a brief (300-600 word) process reflection in which you consider some (not necessarily all) of the following prompts:

  • What kinds of labor went into your presentation? How did you go about preparing? How effective were your preparations?
  • What was most successful about your presentation?
  • What was an aspect that didn’t go the way you hoped? How did you handle that in the moment? What could you change about your preparations for the next assignment like this to improve how things work?
  • What do you hope the class learned from your presentation?
  • What did you learn from your presentation?
  • How would you evaluate your presentation? If you’d like, you could give it a grade or score of some kind. Either way, how would you rate what you did, in terms of the labor, effort, time, care, thought you put into your work?