Owning the Intangible: Possession, Theft, and (Mis)Appropriation of Ideas

Miscellaneous Assignment 12: Presentations

Summary: You will present your research paper to the class in whatever fashion you deem appropriate.

Purposes: (1) To give you the opportunity to exercise and build your presentation skills; (2) To give the class the opportunity to learn more about your subject; (3) To help you reflect on what makes a good presentation; (4) To give you a chance to work on your evaluation skills.



As scholars, we regularly generate new ideas, new information, new perspectives, and new theories. It is our responsibility as citizens of a greater community to share this new knowledge with other people. We share knowledge in a wide variety of ways, including informal conversation, formal discussion, essays, and notes. One particularly important way of sharing information is by presenting the information in spoken form.

As we have noted in class, a good presentation shares many characteristics with a good essay. A good presentation is targeted at a particular audience. A good presentation has a point. A good presentation helps the audience learn something. A good presentation engages the audience. A good presentation coheres. A great presentation encourages the audience to explore the topic further.

At the same time, a good presentation may differ in many ways from an essay. For example, some successful presentations use a much less formal tone than do typical essays. (Some successful presentations use a formal tone.) A good presentation makes explicit the varying tones that may be less obvious in an essay. A good presentation may incorporate a wider variety of media.


Prepare and give a fifteen minute presentation on your research topic. Plan an additional five minutes for questions and answers. Your colleagues will have another five to ten minutes to fill out evaluation forms.


You are welcome to give your presentation in whatever form you deem best. You might read directly from your essay. You might use note cards to guide your general direction. You might ad lib.

You also have freedom in the use of extra materials. You might use PowerPoint. You might demonstrate something on the Web. You might provide handouts.

I do, however, ask, that you present your topic in a way that compels and teaches the audience.


Your classmates and I will evaluate your speech using an associated rubric. All evaluations will serve primarily to help you reflect upon and improve your presentation skills. Your classmates' evaluations may also serve as part of their editing portfolios. My evaluation will also provide you with a grade for the work.


These presentations will be public. I will be inviting other members of the campus community to attend the presentations. The guests may also ask questions and comment.



Monday, 3 November 2003 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Thursday, 16 August 2007 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Tuesday, 20 April 2010 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]


Disclaimer: I usually create these pages on the fly, which means that I rarely proofread them and they may contain bad grammar and incorrect details. It also means that I tend to update them regularly (see the history for more details). Feel free to contact me with any suggestions for changes.

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Samuel A. Rebelsky, rebelsky@grinnell.edu