Jacob's Blog

BLOG--FINAL!

Well the presentation is over and done and there is nothing that we can change now! Overall I believe that we did well with our presentation, it was informative, it was visually appealing, and it was fun. We did a run through of the presentation before class on Tuesday and I was a bit hesitant on how the presentation was going to turn out once we got in front of the the audience and performed, but I had nothing to really worry about. We all knew what we were supposed to talk about and when we came into the presentation. I think this is important because we did spend a little amount of time to come-up with a presentation that flowed well together. I think that this was a high point for us when you look at a comparisons of our presentation with others, because without smooth transitions of information it does not captivate the audience. I think that another high point for us was the use of humor throughout the presentation. With a group of brooding teenagers in a classroom humor is needed to actually get them to listen and pay attention and I think that we used just enough so to be fun but also give an intelligible presentation.

I think that our presentation lacked a few things, as well, including a take home point, and a creative inclusion. I think that my group had a good presentation but I am not sure if there was a cohesive argument that we were making. I think that the other groups that had take home points for the audience or an ending argument did really well with those inclusions. I think the closest thing that we had, which I do think is fine and interesting, was the final message on the fact that Gryphius is only known within the context of his native tongue and how that is an issue whenever you do research like this project. In the other groups I was very impressed with the inclusion of creative outlets such as videos, song, or skits, but we were unable to do that. Looking back we had very hefty goals, and we wanted it to where Will would walk in as Gryphius... mustache and all... and we would interview him. We decided that that was going to take to much time so we decided to just do the PowerPoint. We even tried finding videos to put in our presentation but that was unheard of with Gryphius' work so we settled for just presentation. I don't think that us lacking either of these things hindered us too much, and I still think that our presentation was great, it just might have been more interesting if we would have added some of this stuff in much sooner.


Week of November 19- November 25

By this week, we have basically reached the point where we are pretty solid in our individual information base but I still chose to do a little bit more reading into Gryphius and the German Baroque period in general. By looking into this I found a couple pretty interesting passages on the first few pages in the book that I have had from the beginning... who would have thought that the first page would be so interesting. The first passage stated "[e]ven specialists on the academic scene outside of Germany know of Andreas Gryphius, if they know of him at all, only as a name; and few... have read a single drama or can call to mind a single poem, for he has remained locked within the confines of his native language" (Spahr 1) I thought that this is an ties back into the historigraphical lens and the problems that we faced when trying to find information on Gryphius. This passage was not the only thing that will help us in the explanation and difficulties of our process, but also this passage which states: " the German 'Baroque' was rediscovered only in the 20s of this century..." (ibid) With German Baroque works being relatively new to American society it is not odd that we are limited to the translations of works that we get.

This week I also took on the task of beginning the PowerPoint presentation for our group and I tried to make it flow as naturally as it possibly can. When it comes to PowerPoint's I tend to approach it in a less is more attitude because if you have all of the information and points you want to get across on the presentation then I feel it is pointless to listen to the presenter when I can just read it. I like more general bullet point statements that you can elaborate on during the presentation because then the audience has to actively listen to learn. It might just be my brain looking too much into it but I am still worried that we are going to hit the time limit and not be able fully complete our presentation, which I don't want to happen. I think that I just need to rely on the group members to know that they have to synthesize their information into the key aspect to present... I HAVE FAITH IN US!!!!

Week of November 12- November 18

So far this week I have really been focusing on what we will actually need present to the class and what we need to actually present. This becomes a problem when you have 5 different people researching different information that may not even make it into the final product. And since this information is so foreign to all of us in the group, a lot of time has been spent with us each individually researching information, and there has been a lack of full connection between the group members. It is really going to come down to us meeting together and really fusing information into what the final presentation needs to be, which may be slightly different from what we stated in the "Format the Presentation" section (interviewing Andreas Gryphius as part of the presentation may have been slightly advantageous). As we approach the dates of the presentation I feel like I get the most stressed out about the fact that we have not really synthesized our information into a cohesive presentation. However, at the same point I think that we have each done our fair share of the research and once we begin to actually put it all together into one presentation, the final product will be great.

Since our groups first day of research at the library, we have been slightly limited on sources, but were able to find books for each of us to take and read. This week have I have really delved into the book that I got on Gryphius at the library called Andreas Gryphius: A Modern Perspective. Because of time constraints it was a bit difficult to read the entirety of the book, which gives detailed descriptions of each of his plays as well as a majority of his poetry, but instead I focused on just my sections of the research (for now), his life and his comedy. This book gave a detailed description of Gryphius' life, struggles that he has faced, and his career as a writer. It talked a lot about how major portions of his writings we based on issues of the time, like most writers, but Gryphius did it in a much different way, as he would take text/ideas/stories from other writers and write them to fit his beliefs and the constructs of the time. As a result of being a representative to the Monarch Gryphius had the ability to travel more and gain knowledge of different forms of theatre such as Commedia Dell'Arte that he would then use ideas of in his works. Other than his life I chose to focus on one of the more well known comedies that Gryphius wrote, Horribilicribrifax. The fact that this comedy is better known than some of his others does not mean that it was better written, as "Gryphius' plot is ragged, consisting often of disconnected and ill-planned, badly motivated scenes in a helter-skelter distribution" (Spahr 117). Among other aspects, one of the most interesting things that I found was that the issues of his time were brought into this play through the main character of a ragged soldier, which would coincide with a very prominent aspect in the society of Germany after the Thirty Years War.

The way that we are looking at the information that is relevant the the presentation is very good for me, not just for this class but for other classes as well. It allows me to see that narrowing your scope to be very specific does not limit the information that you can write, it instead makes it very cohesive. I tend to take a topic and look at a very general portion of information and then write or present on that general portion of materiel, which is tedious not only for me to write, but also for others to have to read. So being able to see how effective narrowing your scope is and how to do it, no matter how difficult the top is, is going to be very beneficial to me in the long run.

Week of November 5- November 11:

This week I have really been thinking about how difficult this process is going to be with this topic. Baroque German theatre is not really something that you hear much about when you talk about theatre, but it is something that is there. The challenge is that there are very few translated texts from the that period in Germany, so finding information (in a group that doesn't speak German) is focused mainly on using other peoples perspectives, from books and articles, which can sometimes get a little bit tricky. I think that this Challenge will be good for us, because it will make us actively think and search for information rather than just expecting it to be laid out in front of us.

For this week we each went home and tried to find some information on the period, as well as some authors in the period. I was able to find a list of some of the authors which was really helpful in narrowing the scope of what we were going to do. After we narrowed it down to Andreas Gryphius we were able to find (very few) books in English and then split them among the group members. This week I mainly focused on the life of Gryphius and his origins, in hopes to find correlations to his future works. From what I have read so far, Andreas Gryphius was quite a prolific playwright of the time in Germany, and is often compared to some of the great Greek Playwrights. An interesting thing that I found was that he was a a very strict Protestant but also a humanist. These slightly contradictory beliefs are evident in some of his writing as it seems like a struggle between his religious and philosophical belief systems. I was also able to find that he has "borrowed" some of his ideas from the works from other playwrights of the time, as sections of his plot often line up quite similarly to their works. I find it funny that he is still considered one of the greatest German writers, and at the time he died "[h]e was mourned as Germany's greatest dramatist" (Spahr 17) yet very few of his works, other than his poetry, has been translated into English.

Because this information is so hard to find, it really makes us have to look deeper into the topic and search actively. This allows us to see that if you stay strictly on the main level, you are never going to find anything... but if you are willing and able to dig a little deeper, the amount of information that you will find is immense. That applies not only to this class, but also to other classes as well that need research done on a topic, or a performance based on a topic.

4 Comments

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Thank you for this detailed look into your thought process, Jacob. You are absolutely right: the searching is the project. You may end up discovering information about how people portray Gryphius instead of information about Gryphius or his plays. That would be fine. What you have is a riddle: Who is this Gryphius? If he's so famous, why are his works not printed in English? Answers to those questions will help you develop a nuanced historiographical presentation.

Grade 100%

Re: Blog #2
Again, good work here. I think your group has enough information now. The task you are naming is precisely the right one: shape the information into a coherent statement. Given what you know, what can you say about Gryphius and the historical time and space in which he is embedded? Remember that you can frequently learn a lot by making the problem part of the solution. If Gryphius seems to be a slippery subject, then perhaps you make his slipperiness the focus of your argument...

GRADE: 100%

Re: Blog #3
The only thing I'd add here (and it's too late because I'm writing this after you've given the presentation) is that you should scrutinize the source from which you're drawing this interesting information. Who is Spahr? What field is he in? Knowing who he is will help you determine what position he's writing from. In other words, we have to challenge each source as much as Spahr challenges Gryphius and all those who wrote about him (post 1920s).

GRADE: 100%

Re: Final Blog
The points you raise in your reflection are apt. Specifically, your attention to the relation between form and content is important. How you present information is just as important as what you present; the two dimensions inform each other. Some groups privileged form over content, but the form didn't actually help to develop the content. Other groups had a lot of content but neglected the form, which resulted in an unstructured outline for the audience for the audience to follow. I think your group was somewhere in the middle.

More important than the presentation itself, however, was the process. I hope you will utilize your discoveries during that process as you continue to think about the historical dimension of theatre.

Grade for this entry: 100%
Final Individual Blog Grade: 100%

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