I have enjoyed reading my classmates’ reflections on the experience of presenting at the SRC, almost as much as I enjoyed their actual presentations. I found myself chuckling along when reading their observations about the effects of nervousness, particularly as I had similar physical and emotional reactions that night. For example, I discovered that my extreme nervousness at speaking in front of an audience caused two primary physical issues while I was presenting: the first, which I was painfully aware of at the time, was that I felt as if I was continually mispronouncing words, despite having practiced my presentation multiple times; the second was that from the moment that I began to speak, I immediately suffered from a debilitating severe case of dry mouth, which made speaking impossible quite difficult. Afterwards, Alec pointed out my rookie mistake shared his tip of taking a glass of water to the podium. In retrospect, I can’t believe that I didn’t think to do that! In any event, I will definitely file his suggestion in my mental toolbox if I ever present again for the next time that I present.
Nhu’s comment that there are always going to be “unanticipated circumstances” that arise each semester really resonated with me, particularly as I struggled with many of these myself this term (for instance, literally starting the semester off in January with pneumonia, then having a tree fall on our house during the Nor’easter in March, and finally having my son home sick with Strep and requiring constant hands-on care for a week in April). Although these issues did not prevent me from doing extensive research for my project, I did find that both my attention span, as well as my ability to write, was nonexistent severely compromised and I continually felt (and unfortunately still do) pulled in a dozen different directions.
(Imagine this, but without the snow!)
In his reflection, Alec made an astute comment regarding the process of preparing a presentation, specifically that the process of information selection helped in terms of “thinking more carefully about the final paper.” I, too, felt that way as I was preparing my presentation. In addition, I found the questions and comments afterwards (such as the suggestion that I look up Jeffrey Cohen’s chapter “Monster Culture (Seven Theses),” which I have now read and am working on incorporating into my argument) to be extremely valuable in helping me to identify places in my argument that I still need to expand upon and develop.
I know that I mentioned this after Victor’s Vincent’s presentation, but I have really enjoyed absolutely loved seeing his project develop this semester. In particular, the visuals that he created for his SRC presentation (specifically the texting images between Elizabeth and Victor) helped to make his proposed assignment seem much more concrete. They also reinforced for me the importance of good visuals in a formal talk and what an aid they can be.
Lastly, Ally’s enthusiasm for her project was contagious. Good presentations, like good ideas, can really inspire us as scholars to explore new areas of inquiry, and I found myself taking copious notes for a potential future project (after this semester is over!). Specifically, I’d like to use Syuzhet to graph both the 1818 and 1831 editions of Frankenstein to see whether their degrees of sentiments differ, and if so, in what ways. I can honestly say that that is NOT something that I could possibly have envisioned being willing to tackle four months ago!
In terms of how my presentation has informed the direction that my project has taken, I realized that although I had the majority of my argument worked out, I needed to find a way to explain it to others. This has helped me in my drafting process. For example, I had a slide of various descriptors that Victor Frankenstein uses when referring to the creature. When I constructed this slide, I grouped the terms thematically (i.e. listing similar terms together), but while I was presenting, I realized that for my purposes, it would be more productive to focus on how those descriptors evolve throughout the text based on plot developments (I am currently mapping this out in order to revise my argument).
Finally, although I did not feel this way in the days leading up to the conference, I am extremely grateful that we were forced encouraged to submit our work to the SRC. Had it not been for that, I definitely most likely wouldn’t have, and thus would not have benefited from the experience of presenting. It has been over 15 years since I last presented at a conference (coincidentally, my presentation was also on Frankenstein). MU’s SRC was an excellent opportunity to dip my toes in the proverbial water again, challenge my fear of presenting (thanks to some much-needed words of encouragement and support the night before), and prepare me for future opportunities to present. Because of this, I honestly don’t think that I will be nearly as nervous or apprehensive the next time that I present at a conference. From a professional development standpoint, this truly was an invaluable experience. (865)