Conference Group Presentations and Essays for Frankenstein Conference: Group Presentations

Early in the semester, I will form groups (two persons/possibly one group of three) for presentations and a group paper on Frankenstein. During our class conference, each group will be responsible for their chapters/sections of Frankenstein (see GROUP ASSIGNMENTS below and the syllabus for the schedule).

Exchange email addresses so that you can discuss ideas you have outside of class. It will be helpful to meet at least once (more than one meeting is advisable) in person before you present.

The purpose of our class conference is to allow you to focus on ideas and issues in Frankenstein that interest you and to present these ideas and issues to the class.  Instead of me lecturing to you or framing class discussion according to what I think is important or interesting, you get to shape our class discussion and interact with each other.  This conference will also give you an idea of what an academic conference (particularly in English and the foreign languages) is like.

The main focus of your presentation should be relevant issues/ideas in your assigned chapters/sections. Each group will choose its own topic, focusing on a close reading of character, scene(s), idea, plot, etc. and using, if you wish, biography, history, or genre to contextualize and explain the novel. You are not expected to focus on everything in your assigned portion of the novel. Choose a topic and approach that is narrow enough and that interests your group and that will interest the class too. (How will your presentation help us better understand the novel?) You can contextualize your assigned chapters/sections within the whole novel, either looking ahead or making retrospective comments.

Your presentation should make a claim or claims--your main point(s) or conclusion(s)--about your assigned chapters.  Be sure to share key passages (during your talk/in your handout?) from the novel as you present evidence to support your claim(s).  Give page and paragraph numbers from the Penguin edition of Frankenstein we are using in class.

***Note:  The in-class oral progress reports were very promising, so continuing planning and shaping your presentations.

Time: Each group will have 18 mins. This time limit will be strictly observed, so be sure to practice your presentation at least once to ensure you meet the limit and have a smooth delivery in which all group members participate. Presentations will need to be focused so that you will have enough time to lay out your key ideas after a very brief plot summary.

Handouts: You should use a handout to highlight key ideas or to provide information you will not have time to address directly during your presentation. Handouts can be quotations from the novel, ideas related to your presentation that you don't have time to discuss during the presentation, bio/background info., or even pictures with explanations. Be sure your handout does not simply outline your presentation; it should amplify your presentation. Think about what we can take away after your presentation. You can use PowerPoint or any other technology for your presentation--in addition to the handout. You can even use the document camera to show images or pictures if needed.  Be sure to provide enough details on the handout so that we understand the key points. (** I can make copies for you if I have the handout before class. I am often in my office fifteen minutes before class. You can also email me a Word doc.**)

Style--Oral PresentationsAlthough your presentation grade (points--see below) will be based mainly on content, style will also be assessed (e.g., coordination and timing, speaking volume, dress/appearance).  In terms of your presentation style, you should draw on your knoweldge of giving oral presentations from Communication 101: how to present ideas clearly and structure an oral presentation, how to speak, how to divide material among several speakers and coordinate the presentation, how to dress, etc.  See my if you have questions.  Finally, I will consider the class evaluations when I determine your presentation grades.

There will be time for some questions and discussion after presentations for the day are completed.

Group Essay

Due date will be determined by each group in consultation with me--one paper for each group.

The essay will be three-four pages, double spaced. If you need more space to develop your argument, you can add an extra page to your essay.  (A group of three should aim for four-five pages.) For this paper, each group will choose its own topic, most likely expanding on presentation ideas. Go beyond your presentation and the specific chapters you were assigned as you analyze and write. Include ideas you did not have time to explore fully or mention, and use key quotations as textual support, explaining how these quotations illustrate your idea(s). Connect your specific chapters to the whole text.  For a short essay, your focus will have to be narrow, so be sure to think carefully about your topic and how you will frame it in your essay.

However, you can choose a topic completely different from your presentation topic. For example, you might decide to compare and contrast a movie version of Frankenstein to the novel. (Be careful about this type of essay--see me if you decide on this topic.)

Each group will need to develop strategies for planning, drafting, revising, and editing its essay.  It is best to debate ideas/different views. Avoid "group think," or defaulting to one person or an idea most readily available. Also, be sure all group members edit and proofread.

Each group must submit a planning schedule (10pts.) Each group will meet with me to review a completed draft.

Notes for Writing the Essay

Formatting: 12pt Times New Roman is fairly standard.  Since you are indenting paragraphs, you do not need extra spaces between paragraphs.  Don't forget page numbers and an appropriate title.

: Assume your readers are upper-level students taking a course like ours. Assume they have read the novel (e.g., plot) and have experience reading, discussing, and writing about literature.

Research/Outside Sources: You are not required to use outside sources. However, if you do, you should cite the source(s) and include a works cited page. Also, be sure not to overuse outside sources for a short essay.

I would, however, recommend using the critical introduction to the Penguin edition as well as the Reading Frankenstein page - see Course Notes.

I have put books and articles on reserve in the library that you may find helpful for your essay.  You can, of course, also search the library's books and databases--for articles.  Don't forget that the reference section also has helpful materials.  Finally, their are helpful websites you might consider--but be sure to assess the credibility of these (Wikipedia is not suitable source for your essay.)

If you are citing from a different edition of Frankenstein, you also need to include a works cited page. Cite volume/chapter numbers as well as the page numbers, e.g., (27; ch. 3) or (27; vol. 1, ch. 3). If you use the recommended Penguin edition, you do not need a works cited page. However, if you are citing secondary sources, you must include a works cited page and cite Frankenstein, regardless of the edition you are using.


For a short essay, your introduction should be brief (one paragraph?) and to the point. Remember the function of an introduction: to announce the topic and create reader interest. You can raise a question about the novel that the essay will answer or begin with a key quotation that raises a key issue (issues) the essay will explore. More generally, the introduction makes the focus of the essay clear.

The thesis is usually presented near the end of the introductory paragraph. A thesis statement is the conclusion/main point you have come to about a key question or issue. It should be specific, focused, and clear. Ex: Northanger Abbey is a novel about Catherine Moreland's growth and marriage. This statement is too general for a thesis statement. It is descriptive rather than interpretive. Ex: Although Northanger Abbey ends with happy marriages, the novel, through the narrator's ironic commentary, also reveals the limitations on individualism marriages places on women. This statement is an interpretation of the novel, so it is debatable and must be supported/defended.


Organize your essay by developing and linking supporting points/ideas. Move logically and clearly from supporting idea to supporting idea, each, in turn, supporting the thesis. Use clear topic sentences that focus each paragraph as well as clear paragraph transitions. Also, be sure paragraphs are not too long (overloaded) or too short (underdeveloped). An outline is an effective way to visualize the entire structure of your essay.


For a short essay, choose your supporting ideas carefully. Do not focus on plot summary. You should only use plot summary briefly to contextualize points/ideas. Be sure to defend supporting ideas clearly and specifically using concrete examples. You may, for example, define key terms/words, interpret dialogue and actions, assess characters, explain the meaning/significance of key ideas/concepts.

Using/Integrating Quotations

Quotations emphasize and highlight important ideas/points that would be lost or muted with paraphrase or summary. They also allow readers to experience the language of the text. Remember, however, that quotations are not a substitute for your thinking, so they must be interpreted and explained. Don't overuse quotations in a short essay and be careful about using long (block) quotations. Choose quotations judiciously. Check the MLA Handbook for advice about integrating and punctuating quotations and citing page numbers.

Grammar and Mechanics

Be sure each group member helps with this area. Concerns for review:

Final Grading (All group members receive the same grade.)

Presentation: 30%

Paper: 70%

Group Assignments

Entire Class: Chpts: Author's Intro./Preface/Letters I-IV

Group 1: Chpts: Vol 1, 1-3: Paige Selbo/William Klassen
Group 2: Chpts: Vol 2, 1-2: Zach Schuett/Clayton Harrison
Group 3: Chpts: Vol 1, 4-6:  Shane Hansen/Kurt Gray

Group 4: Chpts: Vol 1, 7-8: Matthew Leveille/Collin Mettelka 
Group 5: Chpts: Vol 2, 3-4: Leslie Spear/Hilary Neesam
Group 6: Chpts: Vol 2, 5-6: Kimberly Lizan Lorenz/Allyson Krause

Group 7: Chpts: Vol 2, 7-9: Vanessa Gribowski/Jake Jaszczenski

Group 8: Chpts: Vol 3, 1-3:  Michael Hilger/Benjamin Larsen

Group 9: Chpts: Vol 3, 4-5: Kayelin Glasspoole/Briana Soroko/Nicholas Colgin

Group 10: Chpts: Vol 3: 6-7: Jacqueline Lange/Farrah DeSmet