LITR 4333 American Immigrant Literature

Poetry reader & discussion leader

Length: 8-12 minutes for presentation; Discussion may continue indefinitely.

introduction / set-up


  • Announce author, title, date, basic info on author's life, place in history or course.

    Joseph Papaleo, American Dream: First Report

    Instructor's note: Joseph Papaleo (1925-2004) was an Italian-American novelist born in the Bronx, New York City. He earned his BA from Sarah Lawrence College, his MA from Columbia University, and his PhD from the University of Florence (Italy).

  • Preview themes, contexts, etc. in terms of course objectives.

    Obj. 2: stages of immigrant narrative

    immigrant generations



  • Don't attempt complete coverage of poem's every possibility; prioritize according to course objectives & class response.

  • Don't focus on author's biography or force the text to conform to external facts.

  • Don't spend too much time talking about anything before reading the poem.


  • Distribute paper copies of poem or use web projector. (Instructor can help with photocopies.)

presentation & "performance"

(order may vary)


  • Identify idea, theme, problem, issue, or literary feature in the poem to be emphasized; preview poetic technique(s).

  • Briefly relate to a course objective or to other readings (poems or main texts)

    Obj. 2: stages of immigrant narrative

    immigrant generations

  • Read poem aloud

    • practice pronunciations, know terms (don't stop to ask; communicate before)

  • Highlight 2-3 passages, connect to interpretation

  • Identify  poetic technique(s) & example(s) in poem

    images and symbols (as parts of codes) and narratives


  • Don't read the poem flatly or haltingly--make it sing! give it rhythm! make it sound like it matters!

  • Don't talk too long after reading the poem--students are ready to discuss immediately but lose focus quickly if presenter keeps on.



  • Ask a question to start discussion. Question should follow from your interpretation or appeal more broadly to challenges in the text or intertexts with other class readings.

    Questions on poem page / handout

  • Lead discussion. You may follow up or re-start discussion with follow-up questions as prepared.

  • Conclude discussion by highlighting major points from discussion + relation to course objective


  • Panic if students don't respond. Keep asking questions or refocusing on passages in text.


  • Posting or Summary for Web Page--email ahead of time to instructor for posting, or bring file on thumb drive.

Single biggest aid to a good discussion: Start discussion as soon as possible after reading the poem. After hearing and sharing the poem, the class is ready to jump in and discuss. Usually the only discussions that "die" are the ones where the students have to wait too long to start talking.

Next biggest aid to a good discussion: Don't save questions and discussion for end, but mix in questions and discussion as presentation proceeds.


Examples from 2007 Student Poetry Presentations

Examples from 2006 Student Poetry Presentations

Examples from 2003 Student Poetry Presentations