Presentation Thoughts?

Oral Presentations, I will admit, are not my favorite thing in the world. I am aware though that they are unavoidable, especially in a field that requires you to convince people that what you’re researching is legit if you want a paycheck. Future Practicalities aside, I do believe it is important to utilize oral presentations as Public speaking is a vital skill not just in a school environment, but in a “real-world job” environment as well.

My personal preparation for an oral presentation is not extremely extensive, though it will vary based on duration and significance (in regards to a grade, or a paycheck). Normally I jot notes down as a “cue card” and have that with me during a presentation, but I will use Notecards if they are in front of me. Also, rehearsing is something I tend to do, at least 4 or 5 times with friends.

There are a few valuable lessons I have learned from past presentations that have aced the criteria in the past. Meaningful movement (not swaying, but not standing in front of the projector or computer monitor the whole time) is important, as it shows your investment without you having to spell it out to your audience. And with the audience, focusing on the audience more than your presentation is also important. It shows that your presentation is in fact meant for them, and not your own self-assurance. If you have a nervous tick (muscle spasms, twitching, etc.), make sure you don’t draw attention to it purposefully. More often than not, they’re more likely listening to what you’re saying than looking at what you’re doing elsewhere (don’t challenge that logic, you’ll make everyone in the room uncomfortable).


Really the only meaningful advice I can give someone is to never let yourself stress out about a presentation. One of the most common reasons I’ve heard from friends in them “failing (I use this term loosely because it’s their personal opinion)” their presentations is that they psyched themselves out prior to presenting. If you overthink or grow paranoid as to whether or not your presentation is good or bad, you’re more liable to choke or blank when it comes time to actually present. This doesn’t necessarily mean you will break down and turn off at the podium, but your mistakes are more likely to be frequent and obvious to everyone. Work hard on a presentation (obviously), but don’t traumatize yourself while doing it (there’s no need to have a “‘Nam Flashback” over one presentation).

Databases (Late to the Party)

Right out of the gate, I use WorldCat for most of my bibliographies. My warning to anyone who tries to use WorldCat is that citations (particularly in the Chicago format) are not complete. I recommend Citation Machine, but you can also refer to your professors or literary writing professionals. It is not necessarily difficult to single out ideal sources in WorldCat, there are worse platforms to try and identify meaningful sources out of. JSTOR is also a good database; however, I admittedly do not use it as often as I should, solely because I’ve been using WorldCat longer and I’m more comfortable with it.

So on a personal note: Invest time in JSTOR because my professors insist it’s good.

Event, Experience, and Myth? (AKA, More Cohen)

This post may be more brief than my previous post differentiating two earlier components of Event and Experience (though I do not recall stating them both directly by name).

Cohen introduces a third way to interpret the Boxers, and it is a way in which I think is the most interesting, and closer to what historians try to dissect in regards to a book review: History as Myth. What this series brings to the table in particular is the idea that there is some history (eg. the Mythologized History), that seeks to answer a question with an answer that the writer themselves have projected. How this is different from regular history is that not only is this idea more based around ones personal feelings and circumstances of the time of writing, but (going to drag this word out here) regular history is often delivered by asking a question, researching that question, and then delivering the outcome that you find with complete acceptance that the history is what it is.

I find this interesting, because if there is one thing that I have always been taught, it’s that there is always more than one side of a story. In regards to history, there is never a definitive reason as to why something happened. Yes, history often generalizes a country or society so they can explain a conflict or event in a way that makes sense, but we as people are something of an enigma. I’ll stray from history for a brief moment and bring in some psychology for the sake of an argument. It’s truly difficult to explain why people do the things they do; often only they know why they do it, and sometimes even they don’t know why they are doing it. What does that have to do with history? Essentially, History will compile the most significant and important actions that embody an event or circumstance, and minor details will be thrown to the wayside. Details will be left out of history if historians believe that those details can be left out without damaging the overall event or causing a grand-scale outcry of “What happened to so-and-so event?”

That to me begs the question “What is more important: Reaching a logical conclusion? Or telling the entire truth?”

Perspectives of the Boxer Rebellion (Thanks Cohen)

From Cohen’s writings, I’ve picked out 2 significant ways to tell the Boxer Rebellion: first through the historian’s perspective, and second through the experiences provided to us by those who lived it.

The voices we hear from historians lay out the story of the Boxers in a cause-and-effect format, where they’ve taken apart every little detail, and find ways to correlate them to the overarching movement as a whole.  They do not just explain the Boxer Movement, but they go out of their way to pick out every faction and -what they deem as- significant event prior to the movement itself that lead to the inevitable creation of the aforementioned movement. The major issue of viewing through historians is that they tend to have their own agendas also, telling history in a way that puts the “actors (the people in the history)” in one certain light or another.

The alternative is that of experience, which is somewhat harder (in my opinion) to assemble in regards to a flowing narrative. The two major issues when dealing with history by experience is that: 1. Everyone comes from a different place, and therefore 2. Everyone has a different way of interpreting events. This way of viewing history feeds into the ideas of Bias, in which the people telling these stories interpret them in a way that fits their personal stances either in real-time, or at the time of the event.  Though while this may seem like an ineffective way of seeing history, people who lived in the moment have more to say in regard to the events as a whole. What history tells us and what those who experience it tell us may conflict or align; which is why it is important to see a way through both.

What I learned from the readings thus far, and from our discussions as a class, is that in a way, blending experience and historian interpretation may be an ideal way to reach the actual truth of a historic event. As I stated before, connections and differentiation are necessary. There is always more than one side of the story, and somewhere in the middle they culminate the actual event. Firsthand testimonies and Textbook sermons are in a sense two pieces of a puzzle, meaning that they are in need to each other in order to complete the whole picture.

Personal Introductions (WITH FLICKR)

Hi. I’m Robert. This will not only serve to fulfill my first assignment, but it will also give future viewers of this blog a little background about myself and where I’ve been. I was born in 1997 in Majuro, Marshall Islands.

Majuro aerial

I was adopted by a Military family, and brought to Virginia before I even turned 1. We lived in Quantico until I was 4, and my family was transferred over to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan.

Kadena Air Base

We stayed there for about three years, and we were transferred once again; this time to Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany.


After two years of living there, my father’s oversea tour was over, and we came back to Virginia; this time moving out into rural Spotsylvania. I have since lived here for the past nine or so years, but the impact that the cultures and histories of the world had on me in my time overseas has not left. I love the world outside of Virginia, and I want to learn more.


-PS: A former student of my professor of this class said I’d score bonus points if I brought Mongolians into the topic at any time, so here is the “Legacy of Genghis Khan.”


Genghis Khan Legacy


Fig. 1. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Majuro aerial. 6 November 2013, Photographic print. Available from: Flickr Commons, (accessed September 7, 2017).

Fig. 2. Héctor García, Kadena Air Base. 30 December 2006, Photographic print. Available from: Flickr Commons, (accessed September 7, 2017).

Fig. 3. Edgar Ja, Stuttgart. 13 May 2017, Black and white photographic print. Available from: Flickr Commons, (accessed September 7, 2017).

Fig. 4. Cool Art, Genghis Khan Legacy. 11 February 2013, Black and white photographic print. Available from: Flickr Commons, (accessed September 7, 2017).