by Chuck Rybak/@chuckrybak

Pecha KuchaOkay, so this really isn’t a DH thing, since presentations are presentations. Still, inspired by Eric Rettberg (whose overall work is fascinating and unique—there’s no one like the guy), I decided to assign my students to create Pecha-Kucha presentations that were close readings of Emily Dickinson poems. (Again, this assignment is from the upper-level poetry class I’m teaching.)

If you don’t know anything about Pecha Kucha presentations, check out this non-academic, discipline-free intro.

Since my students already have a host of other writing assignments, I hoped to widen the class’s potential media for expression, as well as  expanding their rhetorical and technological skill set. When giving the assignment, I let the class know that disaster and failure were indeed welcome options, since those would be great opportunities for us to collaborate in solving problems together. But as so often happens, the students exceeded expectations and challenged me in return; most of the presentations were fantastic.

A few observations:

  • Unlike written journal assignments with their established rhetorical formality, I loved listening to students simply talk about their reading experience and interpretations, often in a very relaxed, genuine, and sometimes funny, fashion.
  • The Pecha-Kucha format is guided by restraint, and I’d go so far as to say these are works of art as defined by the Oulipo crew—constraint is conducive to beauty.
  • Learn from my mistake: I foolishly had the students turn these in via a D2L dropbox, and the file sizes caused all kinds of problems. If my brain were functioning, I simply could have had them upload the presentations to YouTube or Vimeo and solved all that. Just be sure you have clear directions on how to get the audio to upload.

So, having acquired one student’s permission, behold this presentation that I feel turned out pretty well…



 Update: More generous students!