Group-Led Discussion and Presentation

Once in the semester you and two other peers will be responsible for our readings for the week. This means that you will work for two weeks designing discussion questions, posting them to the site, reading posts, and asking follow-up questions. On the day we are set to discuss the reading, you and your group will make a 10-15 minute presentation providing us with the important contexts, history, and literary value of the text. You may also (for extra credit) design an activity for us to do in class.


  • In the first and second week of classes, you will sign up to take over a week in our semester. The sign up sheet is here.
  • Read the assigned texts carefully and early. Discuss ideas with your group and design some questions that can provoke discussion. These questions should be original and not cribbed from the internet.
  • At least one week before the class is due to discuss the assigned reading in class, you will post at least 6 discussion questions on our course site. Name the page “Week X Discussion Questions” and mark it with the appropriate categories (“Discussion” and “Week X”). (See me if you have trouble doing this)
  • After the deadline for posting has passed (Wednesday at midnight), your group will be responsible for reading all the class posts (you can split them among yourselves so each person only reads 8) and posting comments and follow-up questions. Your goal here is to incite discussion, so you can and should draw connections across posts and point people to read each other’s work. You should help them think through the readings and push their ideas about the text. Avoid being patronizing or simply laying out a concept–help your peer build ideas on their own. You should use the time between Thursday and Sunday of that week to post your questions/comments, so that your peers have a chance to respond once they check back for their required comments.
  • On the day we are set to discuss the reading, your group should prepare a 10-15 minute presentation about the text. Here are some issues to consider:
    • When was this text published? Was it published in print, or manuscript? How might this affect its audience and reception?
    • What else was going on in England during that time? How might this affect how we read and understand this text?
    • What do we know about the author’s biography that may be relevant to understanding this text?
    • If we’re reading just an excerpt, what does the rest of the work look like?
    • What are some important textual elements we should be paying attention to (i.e. literary/poetic devices, language, structure, rhyme, genre)?
    • Are there any websites/online editions/tools that help us engage with this text in new or useful ways?

You don’t have to answer all of these questions–discuss with your group what seems most relevant (and does not repeat what we should already know from the introduction). And be sure to cite your sources!

Grading and Requirements

  • On the week your group is leading the class you do not have to write your own posts for discussion
  • If a critical write-up is due that week, you are still required ┬áto submit it, but may do so up to a week past the deadline
  • If you’re in charge of a week with more than one primary text, keep in mind that your discussion questions should address all the readings, but your presentation can focus on a single text
  • You can elect one member of the group to conduct the in-person presentation, provided that everyone collaborates in putting it together


  • Discussion Questions (posted on site the week before the text is due for discussion; includes at least 6 thought-provoking, critical, original questions): 50 points
  • Discussion Moderation (at least one question and/or critical comment on every post, completed throughout the week and before Sunday): 50 points
  • In-Class Presentation (at least 10-15 minutes of literary, historical, and biographic context; preferably multimedia–PPT, Prezi, Google Docs): 50 points

Groups will receive one collective grade. If there are issues with collaboration and assigning of tasks, please contact me or come discuss the issue in office hours.


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