WRD 103: Composition & Rhetoric I Rotating Header Image

Multimodality — Audio Essay: “This I Believe”

Genre: Audio Essay
: Listeners of “This I Believe” and us: your friends, classmates, and teacher
Learning Outcomes
: Multimodal composing

Our process:

Tuesday 10/18: Introduction to multimodality and multimodal composing
Thursday 10/20: Audio essay script (draft)
Tuesday 10/25: Audio essay draft #1
Thursday 10/27: Audio essay draft #2
Weeks 9 & 10 (in class): Remixing the NYT

Your choice:

  • Describe the core values that guide your daily life
  • Narrate your underlying concerns and commitments from your argument/advocacy project — remix that project

The essay should focus on what you believe about your chosen topic. It should be, in the words of NPR’s “This I Believe” web site “a statement of your personal beliefs, of the values which rule your thought and action.” As the original invitation to this series puts it: We want to know what you live by.

Alternative approaches:

  • Compose an audio essay addressed to OccupyChicago participants, taking a position on their efforts
  • Compose an audio essay about a piece of art at the Art Institute of Chicago that guides your listeners through an experience: “starting at the south Lion, go up the stairs, and …”

How to get started

  • Listen to the example audio essays on the “This I Believe” web site
  • Brainstorm about beliefs on your topic. In order to have a well-rounded, persuasive essay, think about such things as facts and statistics (logos), examples and descriptions (pathos), and outside expert opinion (ethos). Also think about your audience (young, educated people like yourself) and what kinds of evidence will be most persuasive for them

One suggestion: tell a story: “Take your belief out of the ether and ground it in the events of your life. Consider moments when belief was formed or tested or changed. Think of your own experience, work and family, and tell of the things you know that no one else does. Your story need not be heart-warming or gut-wrenching — it can even be funny — but it should be real. Make sure your story ties to the essence of your daily life philosophy and the shaping of your beliefs” (from the NPR “This I Believe” website)


If you’re working on a newer MAC, you can record audio in GarageBand.

Audacity is an audio-editing software program that is available for free download for both Macs and PCs. This means you can download a version at home and use it to work on editing your essay outside of class. You can also record your essay outside of class using your own recording device. Keep in mind, though, that the most important factor in producing a high-quality audio piece is the quality of the initial recording. Wherever you record your essay, make sure that it is as clear and even as possible.