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FLEET LIBRARY | Research Guides

Rhode Island School of Design

LAS E350: Global Literary Modernisms

Resources for preparing your weekly presentations


A presentation differs from a paper in several ways. You'll need to balance text, image, blank space, and what you actually say out loud! It's said that audiences retain only 10% of the content of a talk, whereas 60% of what's remembered is visual impression and 30% is vocal impression.

Written Text Presentation

Can be read at any speed

You can stop to look things up

Can step away for a break

Citations are essential

Images are optional

Audience must process what you're saying in the moment

Audience perceives presenter's expression, motions, voice

No control over distractions

Visually oriented format

Citations still required, looser rules

This chart and the above statistic are both adapted from the Center for Arts & Language's worksheets, available here.

Where to Start

What actually needs to be in your presentation? Start with your assignment. What does the instructor explicitly request? Make a list. Some of these things will be more straightforward than others. They're great items to tackle first. What kind of research do you need to do?

For example:

  • background on the author
    • research: straightforward (unless the author is very contemporary or under-recognized)
  • cultural, historical, political context
    • these are intertwined; you may need to think broadly - what was happening in the writer's country? Era? What was happening in the larger world? How did their identity place them within these contexts?
  • relevant concepts
    • what themes arise in this work?
    • what literary techniques are used?
    • this will vary based on topic


While you're researching, think about what you can use in your presentation. Have you noticed great images? Quotable (but brief) blocks of text? Save them as you go (and get a citation), so you don't have to look for them later.


Writing and researching for a paper is a recursive process - and this applies to presentations as well. We don't do each thing separately: rather, they are woven together, doubled back on each other, iterative. A lightbulb that goes off in your head while writing a draft may change your whole concept, leading you to go back and do additional research. Likewise, you may have a topic all planned out, start your research, and then find something exciting (or find nothing!) and realize you want to change things. THIS IS PERFECTLY NORMAL. It's part of the process.