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Visionary: This Guy Turned a 5-Minute Presentation into an Hourlong Saga Using PowerPoint Transitions


Photos by catherinecronin and Loquetudigas / CC BY-SA 2.0, edited

When James Gunther (C '20) stood up to give his mandatory presentation on Kafka's classic novella The Metamorphosis for his comparative literature class on Wednesday morning, he had no idea it would alter the lives of everyone in his audience.

What was supposed to be a quick summary of the piece and some low-level analysis became a white-knuckled ride through 46 exhaustive PowerPoint slides—each with its own distinctive menagerie of transition effects. His fellow students were stunned; no one before him had ventured more than two minutes outside the boundaries of the 10-minute time limit. Gunther's presentation lasted 68 minutes in all. Without even realizing it, Gunther had rewritten history.

"I don't even know what happened," said the intrepid sophomore, still in disbelief about what he'd done. "I got up there to speak and the next thing I knew, my name and title dissolved into the screen, exploding into thousands of blue pixels to reveal the next slide. After that, I pretty much blacked out."

Anita Sen (N '19), one of Gunther's classmates, however, remembers everything in vivid detail. Although the presentation lasted nearly the entire duration of the 90-minute seminar, she never moved from the edge of her seat. "I tried to fall asleep around the 30-minute mark," Sen admitted, "but I kept opening my eyes to peek at the next transition."

"When he got to the slide where every single letter of a page-long excerpt from the reading fell into place one by one, I knew I just had to ride this one out. I'll never see anything like this again in my life," she added.

Despite the attention he received from his class, Gunther still doesn't see himself as anything other than an average kid. "I'm no hero," he insists, humbly shaking his head at the suggestion. "I just wanted to things a little differently."