Historical Contribution Before 1800

Oral reports I.  Each student will speak to the class for up to three minutes without notes and on two different occasions about an African descended woman who lived in the Americas (but outside of the thirteen colonies in North America) and made her major historical contribution before 1800.  Please avoid reporting on people already well covered in the course, e.g.  Queen Nanny. Be sure to identify a historiographical debate about at least one aspect of your subject’s life, and tie your presentation to a course objective where possible. UNC-CH has a tradition of graduating students who have a background in public speaking.  One only has to read about the Di Phi’s long history on this campus.  I applaud this tradition but I also know that public speaking always ranks high on lists of most feared situations.  So let me from the start offer you some points to consider as you prepare: 1)   What strategies might you adopt to make speaking without notes a successful experience? Should you over learn your topic, so that you have a “well” to draw on in case you forget what you wish to say?  Should you adopt memory tricks? 2)    What is the central idea you wish to convey?  You have little time, so you need a clear central focus.  Is there a historical debate about your subject, even if it is only about an incident in her life? Does your topic’s life particularly speak to any course theme? 3)   Have you chosen a subject that interests you?  Give some thought to your topic and do not choose one too quickly.  After all, if you are not excited about your subject, we will not be either. 4)   What is the best organizational strategy?  Should you spend most of your time summarizing your subject’s life? Or should you briefly identify her in three or four sentences before going on to focus on a particular incident in her life and how it illustrates something larger?  Students in past courses have followed both of these paths, but the latter one usually seemed to yield better results. 5)   Be creative. Grab our attention with a great opening line and do not hesitate to make your presentation the one that we really remember. 6)   Why not visit me at office hours if you need help or encouragement?    Remember that it is usually the stronger students who take advantage of office hours. 7)    Be sure to consult the schedule on the syllabus, and plan ahead.  Please do not wait to start on this assignment until one or two days before you speak.  Give yourself time to research, organize your thoughts, and practice your talk. 8)    A note of encouragement: While public speaking may be a bit scary, I have given this assignment to previous classes and students in them have done well. I am confident that I will be able to say the same thing about you. Note that an “A” oral presentation will show excellent research, be well delivered, and will teach us something important in a memorable way.  A “B” oral report will be one that is given with competence, and reflects good research, but will be less compelling than “A” work.  Both “A” and “B” work will give evidence of library research

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