My Chaucer seminar students gave their public presentations this past week, and for the most part, I was very pleased with the quality of their thinking and their presentations. We'd talked some ahead of time (and they'd practiced together in class) about summing up their arguments rather than reading papers, and especially about giving a quick intro to the tale or poem they're working with so that folks in the audience can follow their argument. Overall, I was especially happy that they did such a good job at that; one of my students from another class even mentioned how helpful that was as he listened to the papers.
A couple of the students weren't prepared, and it showed. That's not fun, but at least it's not like I have to point out that they didn't put the work in, because they knew it.
One of my students said before the presentations that s/he was terrified of talking in public, but she justs went to town on her presentation, so I hope that gives her a bit more confidence.
The dean came in during one of the presentations, at the end, during the discussion and question time. Which one, you ask? The one where we were discussing the student's use of "catamite" and whether it was useful in discussing the Pardoner and his tale. /nod.
(I tend to think "catamite" is a pretty negative term, probably because of the way it's used in early modern contexts, so I don't think it's a great choice for this student's discussion. And the OED doesn't show it used in English until the 16th century, so it's not that helpful for Chaucer, anyway. I asked, and the student said she'd learned the word in a classics class, where maybe it didn't have such a negative connotation?)
The dean stayed on for the next (and last) talk on Alison and May, and women in fabliaux, which was pretty darned good.
All in all, I think it was a solid learning experience for my students doing presentations, and for them learning to listen carefully to presentations. And I heard some darned good presentations from other classes and programs. Thumbs up!