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Multimodal Composing Workshop: Winter 2011

The Committee on First Year Writing and the Digital-WRD Working Group Present:

Multimodal Composing Workshop

Facilitators: Tricia Hermes, Michael Moore, Digital WRD Working Group
Date:Friday, February 4th, 10:00 a.m.-noon
Location: 143 McGaw Hall
What to bring: 2-3 examples of multimodal composing, as you perceive it
Purpose: in the first half of the workshop, we’ll discuss the role of multimodal composing in teaching and learning academic discourse — claims, examples, and local, WRD contexts — and in the second half, we will practice hands-on production of images, using Photoshop.

The planning of this workshop grew out of discussions around the production and presentation of electronic portfolios, and this workshop will be followed, and integrated, with portfolio workshops throughout the Winter and Spring 2011 Quarters.

Multimodal composing: the purposeful and rhetorical integration of different meaning-making modes—alphabetic text, sound, video, gesture, color, animation, photographs, drawings—in order to achieve an intentional, rhetorical effect.

Grounding questions

  • Do we read digital portfolios differently than print, hard-copy portfolios? Should we?
  • What do teachers and students need to know — i.e., what expertise is assumed — to experiment and engage with multimodal texts?
  • How should we evaluate and assess multimodal compositions?

Background materials and reading:

The New London Group. “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures.” In Multiliteracies. Eds. Cope and Kalantzis. London: Routledge, 2000. 9-37.

Elkins, James. Visual Studies: A Skeptical Introduction. Routledge, 2003.

_____. Visual Practices Across the University. Fink Wilhelm GmbH + Co.KG, 2007.

“Outside of painting, sculpture, and architecture, and outside of television, advertising, film, and other mass media, what kinds of images do people care about? It turns out that images are being made and discussed in dozens of fields, throughout the university and well beyond the humanities. Some fields, such as biochemistry and astronomy, are image-obsessed; others think and work through images.”

“So far visual studies has mainly taken an interest in fine art and mass media, leaving these other images — which are really the vast majority of all images produced in universities — relatively unstudied. Outside the university, scientific images crop up in magazines, on the internet, in popular-science books.”

George, Diana. “From Analysis to Design: Visual Communication in the Teaching of Writing.” CCC. 54.1 (2002): 11-39.

“… there remains much confusion over what is meant by visual communication, visual rhetoric, or, more simply, the visual and where or whether it belongs in a composition course. What’s more, to the extent that this confusion remains unaddressed, visual and written communication continue to be held in a kind of tension-the visual figuring into the teaching of writing as a problematic, something added, an anomaly, a “new” way of composing, or, somewhat cynically, as a strategy for adding relevance or interest to a required course. Only rarely does that call address students as producers as well as consumers or critics of the visual. More rarely does the call acknowledge the visual as much more than attendant to the verbal.”

Kress, Gunther. Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication. Routledge, 2009.

Lauer, Claire. “Contending with Terms: ‘Multimodal’ and ‘Multimedia’ in the Academic and Public Spheres.” Computers & Composition 26.4 (December 2009).

“This paper shows that rather than the use of these terms being driven by any difference in their definitions, their use is more contingent upon the context and the audience to whom a particular discussion is being directed. While “multimedia” is used more frequently in public/industry contexts, “multimodal” is preferred in the field of composition and rhetoric. This preference for terms can be best explained by understanding the differences in how texts are valued and evaluated in these contexts. “Multimodal” is a term valued by instructors because of its emphasis on design and process, whereas “multimedia” is valued in the public sphere because of its emphasis on the production of a deliverable text. Ultimately, instructors need to continue using both terms in their teaching and scholarship because although “multimodal” is a term that is more theoretically accurate to describe the cognitive and socially situated choices students are making in their compositions, “multimedia” works as a gateway term for instructors and scholars to interface with those outside of academia in familiar and important ways.”

Selfe, Cynthia L. and Pamela Takayoshi. “Thinking about Multimodality.” In C. Selfe (Ed.) Multimodal Composition: Resources for Teachers. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2007.

Tufte, Edward. Beautiful Evidence. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press, 2006.

_____. Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press, 1997.

Westbrook, Steve. “Visual Rhetoric in a Culture of Fear: Impediments to Multimedia Production.” College English, Volume 68, Number 5, May 2006.

Wysocki, Anne Frances. “Seeing the Screen: Research into Visual and Digital Writing Practices.” Handbook of Research on Writing. Ed. Charles Bazerman. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2008. 599-612.

Classroom Resources for Teachers & Students

Valerio Mezzanotti: “At Louvre, Many Stop to Snap but Few Stay to Focus.” August 2, 2009.

Two models:

“Images and words have long coexisted on the printed page and in manuscripts, but relatively few people possessed the resources to exploit the rhetorical potential of images combined with words. My argument is that literacy has always been a material, multimedia construct but we only now are becoming aware of this multidimensionality and materiality because computer technologies have made it possible for many people to produce and publish multimedia presentations.” — Faigley, “Material literacy and visual design,” 175.

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“Take, for instance, an objective often associated with first-year composition programs, asking students to use course readings or outside sources as the basis for an argument. Rather than requiring students to produce a thesis-driven, linear print essay that is, more often than not, intended for the instructor alone, students approach this objective by contextualizing it in ways that are of interest or importance to them. They decide how, why, where, and even when that argument based on specific readings will be experienced by its recipient(s). Following these decisions, they begin generating the complex action sequences leading to the realization of their final product(s).” Shipka, “A Multimodal Task-Based Framework for Composing,” 286.