I attended the Marxist Reading Group presentation “Rethinking Work,” for the last panel presentation. While the topics introduced were all interesting in their own way, I had a hard time seeing a cohesive theme between the three. One dealt with Indians, one dealt with New Wave Feminism, and one dealt with the Stieg Larsson “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy. Each paper was an entirely new world onto itself and the environment of the panel changed with each paper.
The first paper about Indians was interesting in that it brought up the native laws and Indian casinos as well as species of rare orchids and a funny little story about a man attempting to steal them, but she chose to make her point by describing a movie called Adaptation which I have never seen, and I doubt anyone else had really seen either because it seemed to be just a weird Nicholas Cage film, and I, at least, had never even heard of it before she introduced it. A lot of her paper was just summarizing the film which, admittedly, sounded interesting in a completely different and weird way, but not something I can see myself watching any time soon. She was a good speaker though and seemed to know her material well, not reading directly from the paper for the majority of the time.
The second presentation was about Second Wave Feminism and although she seemed like a really nice person, she read directly from her paper without very many natural pauses and she just seemed a little uncomfortable the whole time.
The third presentation really made the whole night. He started with a speech about how he was going to capitalize on the coveted last spot by using all of the allotted time, and then proceeded to go about twenty or thirty minutes over the time I was made to understand the panel would be over. He was a good speaker and interacted well with the audience, including taking a little poll at the beginning to figure out how many people had actually read the books he was going to be talking about, and his love for Swedish crime fiction was made really apparent, but I just found myself checking the time repeatedly and waiting to leave. The moderator eventually had to cut him off.
During the questioning, the final speaker, Phil Wegner, made a big production of it again and spent about ten minutes answering each question so that the other two women had a hard time getting a word in edgewise. I honestly didn’t understand much of what the questions were about, it was kind of just a weird dialogue/argument between Phil and the audience members with everyone adding on more to the conversation and leaving the poor women without anything to do or ad.
For the most part, what I learned is that the better speakers are more conversational rather than just reading from their papers. It’s good to take pauses and the more specific the examples, the better the presentation. It also helps to reference things that people have actually seen/read because then they have something to relate to. It’s also important to give other people a chance to speak because if you’re seen as dominating the floor, it’s a little obnoxious to the people watching. Overall, it was a good panel and it wasn’t a completely excruciating experience, I just felt that Phil Wegner’s personality was a little much and really overshadowed the other two speakers.