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Verbal System of Ancient Hebrew

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Adam Couturier

John, very helpful information for presenters. I think this is where people with an ecclesiastic background tend to do better (although this is not always the case), or at least have an edge. The difference between a good sermon and a good presentation is very nil.

Angela Erisman

Well, I can empathize at having one's paper ripped to shreds by MVF... "fun" is not exactly the word I'd use. But I hope they learned a lot.

Josh Mann

Homiletics?

Looking forward to some helpful sessions!

JohnFH

Hi Adam and Josh,

The skills many presenters need to work on come under the rubric of *rhetoric,* classically speaking.

For example, at the onset of a discourse, captatio benevolentiae is an excellent rhetorical strategy. Presenters ignore the rules of rhetoric and human psychology at their own peril.


Hi Angela,

It was good to hear from you recently. In an age of miminal marking, it can feel threatening to have someone take on the substance of your paper and your method of argumentation. But as you imply, it's an excellent way to learn.

Phil Sumpter

The best papers in my book are the ones in which they print the essay and hand it out so that you can read it at home. But then, I have a weakness when it comes to that kind of thing. As I said at SBL, your paper was a breath of fresh air.

Ros

Oh, good, one more thing to worry about. ;)

Any advice on how you guess how many handouts to provide?

JohnFH

Hi Phil,

And you missed my best presentation in Rome, the one on Proverbs 1-9, you low life! (Just kidding). Say hi for me to your friends from Basel.

Hi Ros,

At SBL-New Orleans, 20 copies of a handout might be sufficient, with a backup-photocopying-plan-in-real-time worked out with your session's presider should that number be insufficient.

Christopher Heard

I appreciate this post, John! May I simply add that I am resolved never to "read" another paper at any professional conference, though I hope to present many interesting ideas.

I don't quite agree with you on handouts, however. In my opinion, handouts are best used with data-heavy papers. At any rate, if you're going to use a handout, please keep it down to the bare minimum (one double-sided page at most), bring plenty of copies (!), and under no circumstances should you read directly from your handout! Most of the time, though, I just find handouts annoying and unnecessary.

JohnFH

Hi Chris,

It is indeed the case that some of the best presentations at professional conferences consider data from a bird's eye view only. In those instances, handouts are probably superfluous.

But many presentations at conferences engage a set of data in such detail that it is necessary or at least very helpful to have the data to refer to, a thesis to consider, and an essential bibliography, in hand-out form.

Data-heavy presentations, as you call them, are of great interest to me in the areas of my specialization. Too often, however, they attempt to accomplish too much in a brief span of time. On still other occasions, they lack a strong thesis, something one might argue with.

danielandtonya

For those of you who also don't know what captatio benevolentiae is, check here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_rhetorical_terms)

Phil Sumpter

Well, I read your notes on the plane. That was the problem with this session of SBL, all the best papers occured at the same time.

Brooke

As a hearer, I like to have a handout, if only as a memory aid to which to refer later. And yes, if there are texts being read and interpreted, I want them on the handout.

Two sides of one page is the max, in my view.

As to number: bring a couple of hundred! They don’t weigh much, the unused copies can be recycled, and nobody gets left out. I can’t believe it when someone comes in with maybe 30 copies and expresses apologetic awe to find 40 people actually came to hear what they’ve traveled a thousand miles to say.

JohnFH

Hi Brooke,

Mark Goodacre, who linked to this post on his weblog, also likes handouts.

I sometimes give out 10-page data-dense handouts, but of course I cover only a portion of the material in the presentation. One might call it a take-home handout. A helpful handout that goes beyond the presentation may turn out to be the beginning a friendship or even a partnership between scholars.

Frank

John, after three tries I gave up on SBL meetings because of what you're describing here. The gap between my hopes and the realities was just too hard to take. It was painful.

I don't have many contacts with people in the field, and the ones I do have always seemed to be interested in talking with someone above them rather than with a studious preacher like me. That's understandable, but hardly a good time.

JohnFH

Hi Frank,

Well, if you come to SBl-New Orleans, I'm happy to help make the experience of another kind. Most of the people I end up hanging out with do not have noses pointed upwards.

On the schedule every day, there are many presentations that are almost guaranteed to be exciting and well-done, given the known gifts of the presenter. But you wouldn't necessarily know who they were.

Frank

John,

I'd truly be willing to give it another shot if it were only in the cards for me to do it this year. But, alas, it's not.

You're right about having to know which ones will be the good sessions. As I said, my past guesses have not been good ones.

When I said that people at SBL would rather speak "up" to someone else rather than "down" to me, I gave the wrong impression. Really, it's been more a matter of me simply not having a circle of friends in the field; I didn't attend with my department, etc. With one exception, where a European scholar seemed mildly disgusted when he realized that I was a preacher, I really haven't experienced much snootiness at all at SBL.

Oh, well. Maybe I'll try it again sometime. Right now, I'm focused on figuring out how to teach community college students how to read a text. Many of them simply cannot read a biblical passage and say what the themes are.

JohnFH

Frank,

You have a circle of friends now. Next time.

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