Spencer Faust's Blog

I'm not sure how I managed to forget to Journal the first week, especially when Jacob reminded me the day it was due, but either way I'd like to catch up.

Last week I was mostly focusing on trying to get an overall understanding of how our presentation was going to shape up. I read the introduction and commentary of Carolus Stuardus by Hugh Powell, which contained a wealth of information on the culture in Germany at the time and Gryphius' life experiences. It's exhilarating and frustrating at the same time to research an aspect of theater that I've never learned about before, I never realized how much I depended on my subconscious knowledge of theater to fact check as I research until I don't have anything to go on. I'm frustrated, as the rest of my group is, with the lack of consistent English translations. My particular research piece is written in English, but assumes that the reader: A) Already knows about Gryphius and German theater B) At the very least reads modern and archaic German. Many passages quoted in German are discernible from context, however the finer points are lost unfortunately.

My research last week consisted of reading through the different bodies of text I would be using for my finer research so I have a good overall knowledge of how to navigate it once we narrowed our scope and dug in to the thick of it. I gained a good idea of the basics of Gryphius' life; where he went to school, how old he was when he began writing and where he traveled in his search for knowledge.

Like I mentioned above, all the research I did last week laid a good groundwork to serve as a springboard for my narrowed research topic. I'll use that knowledge to help put my new research into perspective and analyze it better than I would have been able to previously.

Dec 4.

We have compiled all of our research and run through the presentation together. We were missing one group member that got called in to work and the presentations were a mix ranging from shaky to not so shaky, but we were able to fill up almost 20 minutes with one group member gone so I feel confident our presentation will go well.

It's interesting to me how fast we went from "Oh God, we don't have enough time" to "Oh God, we don't have enough information." After seeing the presentations last Thursday I think all of us agreed that the first 10 minutes seemed to fly by, and then the last half of the presentations dragged on. This left us feeling like we might not have enough content to fill a 20 minute presentation, however I'm confident we will be fine. We were able to tweak our own presentations based on the ones we watched, and came up with a few new ideas on how to keep it interesting and still informative.

We're meeting again before class to go over everything and make any last minute revisions that need to be made before presenting and then away we go! My next journal entry will be after the presentation, hopefully it goes well!

Dec. 7

Well it's done, we presented. I feel like our presentation went well, we covered everything we wanted to and had a minute to spare. I feel like our presentation was not as stimulating as some other groups :cough: Roman Theater :cough: but we had a ton of information despite research issues and I feel we were able to portray it in a way that was efficient and not completely dull to watch.

The talk afterwards was very insightful. I loved going over all the groups methods of dealing with the presentation aspect of the project. I enjoyed having someone enact their groups author, since that was an idea we'd had as well. I feel like it helped to engage the audience and make the presentation much more performance like; which helped the audience absorb more information. Like I said in the discussion, relating Comédia characters with the cast of Arrested Development was a brilliant way to bring the subject into our time and make it more recognizable and more interesting. I wonder, though, how that effects the lens we look through once we've finished the comparison and gone back to studying Comédia. Is it different after such a close comparison than it would have been just going into it? I would imagine it makes us look for other similarities to our time nestled within the research and in doing so leads us further away from looking at the information as it out to be looked at.

In the most effective groups humor was used to capture and keep the audience's attention. Visual aides, especially funny ones, proved a wonderful attention getter and a good way to direct the audience's attention. I feel our group had somewhat funny members, but the overall presentation lacked something innately attention demanding. The obvious examples of using humor effectively were the group that focused on Robin Hood and the Roman theater group.

If I were to continue my research into baroque German theater I would reach out to professors and experts as well as travel to as many libraries as I could to widen my search base. Researching the political and social events of the time would also be important. I think most importantly though, if I were to continue in my research I would begin learning to read German.

2 Comments

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Re: Blog of Dec. 4
For your final entry, Spencer, I'd like to see you engage with thoroughly with some of the ideas that were brought up in the post-presentation debrief at the end of class. I think you're doing a good job wrestling the difficulties of research. Your comments are most insightful when you ground them in a particular source or idea. Try not to spiral off into general comments. Instead, grapple with the material you have just read, the questions that came up through the doing of the presentation, and/or the ways in which you'd continue to pursue your research if there was more time.

Grade for this blog: 90%

Re: Blog of Dec. 7
Some great points here, Spenser. I especially like your question regarding contemporary references and analogies. By saying something like, "Arrested Development is based on Commedia dell'Arte..." we are already making many abstract leaps. We have to wonder: what's lost in making these leaps? Could the purpose of the connection between Arrested Development and Commedia be achieved some other way? Why not talk about the characters and then allow audiences to make the connections themselves?

Related to this, and building from your references to the Ancient Roman Spectacle group, I think it's important to ask this question: What's the connection between form and content? A form may be stimulating/entertaining, but does that entertainment help to deepen out understanding of the topic at hand?

I think your group did a good job of the two primary tasks of this assignment: 1.) you engaged in research and confronted the difficult task of historical absence; 2.) you collated a lot of information into a cogent presentation of key points. I hope you continue to use these research skills in other area of your work.

Grade for this entry: 100%
Final Grade for Individual Blog entries (due to fact that you didn't write the first couple blogs): 48%

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