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Multimodal Literacies and Emerging Genres

Edited by Tracey Bowen and Carl Whithaus

Publication Year: 2012

A student’s avatar navigates a virtual world and communicates the desires, emotions, and fears of its creator. Yet, how can her writing instructor interpret this form of meaningmaking? Today, multiple modes of communication and information technology are challenging pedagogies in composition and across the disciplines. Writing instructors grapple with incorporating new forms into their curriculums and relating them to established literary practices. Administrators confront the application of new technologies to the restructuring of courses and the classroom itself. Multimodal Literacies and Emerging Genres examines the possibilities, challenges, and realities of mutimodal composition as an effective means of communication. The chapters view the ways that writing instructors and their students are exploring the spaces where communication occurs, while also asking “what else is possible.” The genres of film, audio, photography, graphics, speeches, storyboards, PowerPoint presentations, virtual environments, written works, and others are investigated to discern both their capabilities and limitations. The contributors highlight the responsibility of instructors to guide students in the consideration of their audience and ethical responsibility, while also maintaining the ability to “speak well.” Additionally, they focus on the need for programmatic changes and a shift in institutional philosophy to close a possible “digital divide” and remain relevant in digital and global economies. Embracing and advancing multimodal communication is essential to both higher education and students. The contributors therefore call for the examination of how writing programs, faculty, and administrators are responding to change, and how the many purposes writing serves can effectively converge within composition curricula.

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

Series: Pittsburgh Series in Composition, Literacy, and Culture

Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 1-6


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xii

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Introduction: “What Else Is Possible”: Multimodal Composing and Genre in the Teaching of Writing

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pp. 1-12

In Releasing the Imagination, Maxine Greene (2000) maintains that educators are responsible for asking students to reflect on what they do, what they think, and what they produce. But she also argues that fac-ulty and students need to consider “what else is possible” in educational spaces. Greene’s work is hopeful and forward looking. When combined ...

I. Multimodal Pedagogies That Inspire Hybrid Genres

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pp. 13-14

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1. Genre and Transfer in a Multimodal Composition Class

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pp. 15-36

In some other chapter, in some other collection, a teacher writes about how great her semester went teaching a new syllabus that seemed to have worked extraordinarily well. She details that syllabus and discusses how the assignments were sequenced; she concludes by providing quotes from the students’ portfolio reflections to show that they learned a great deal ...

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2. Back to the Future? The Pedagogical Promise of the (Multimedia) Essay

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pp. 37-72

When we think about new media and emerging genres in composition studies, it can be tempting to move full-speed ahead into the uncharted waters of the digital future, without pausing to look back at familiar shores and genres. The essay, of all things, might seem at first glance an implausible and dubious source of terra firma from which to launch the...

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3. Including, but Not Limited to, the Digital: Composing Multimodal Texts

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pp. 73-89

In “Part 1: Thinking out of the Pro-Verbal Box,” Sean Williams (2001, 23) suggests that composition is a “largely conservative” discipline because it tends to “cling to the idea of writing about representation systems in verbal text because that’s what we do in composition.” According to Williams, while ideas about appropriate subject matter for...

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4. Something Old, Something New: Integrating Presentation Software into the “Writing” Course

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pp. 90-110

As the chapter title suggests, we think that oral presentation should play a role in writing courses, but we recognize that this assertion may meet with some resistance. If we take a look at the objectives for the typical first-year writing course, we frequently find something similar to this statement from the University of Minnesota: “The primary purpose of ...

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5. Thinking outside the Text Box: 3-D Interactive, Multimodal Literacy in a College Writing Class

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pp. 111-140

For more than twenty years now print has been steadily replaced by electronic media, words by images, and literature by movies, television, computers, and video games. Hence, as Richard Lanham (1993, 264) put it, “we can neither preserve the educational system unchanged nor throw out the ‘literate’ ways of thinking. We have, in some way, to move ...

II. Multimodal Literacies and Pedagogical Choices

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pp. 141-142

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6. Invention, Ethos, and New Media in the Rhetoric Classroom: The Storyboard as Exemplary Genre

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pp. 143-163

What might it mean to be multimodally literate today, and what would it take to sustain such literacy in an age of rapidly changing cultural and technological innovation? To be sure, the question is not original, many have asked it before me, but it is a persistent question precisely because any...

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7. Multimodal Composing, Appropriation, Remediation, and Reflection: Writing, Literature, Media

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pp. 164-182

In his 2004 talk at the Conference on College Composition and Com-munication, Gunther Kress described a “revolution in modes of rep-resentation” in which images dominate writing and the medium of the screen is dominant over the book. Concerned that current literacy theo-ries and practice are incomplete, Kress (2003, 35) wrote in...

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8. Writing, Visualizing, and Research Reports

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pp. 183-203

This chapter examines what happens when an instructor attempts to correlate two theoretical frameworks to conceptualize and practice instructional goals and activities in an undergraduate research and writing class. Literacy and writing have been theorized as multimodal design activities by the New London Group (Cope and Kalantzis 2000). Language ...

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9. Multimodality, Memory, and Evidence: How the Treasure House of Rhetoric Is Being Digitally Renovated

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pp. 204-222

The New London Group (NLG 2000) has discussed extensively the need to teach multimodal composing in our computer-mediated, communication-oriented society. Each of the modes of meaning the NLG (ibid., 26) has identified—audio, spatial, linguistic, visual, and gestural— can be found in digital media compositions. The NLG advocates...

III. The Changing Structure of Composition Programs

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pp. 223-224

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10. Student Mastery in Metamodal Learning Environments: Moving beyond Multimodal Literacy

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pp. 225-247

Although the abilities to interact with and within virtually mediated spaces are rapidly becoming basic life skills, our awareness and understanding of how this interaction differs from traditional media is still in its infancy. The most advanced research in multimodal literacies is focused on schoolchildren, implying that the earlier technologically appro-...

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11. Multivalent Composition and the Reinvention of Expertise

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pp. 248-281

For the three of us writing this chapter, being multimodal is part of being human—part of living through a variety of overlapping and inter-active discursive modes as teachers, writers, and thinkers. That does not mean we think all writers and writing teachers have the same conception of “multimodal,” as this collection aptly demonstrates, or that all of us ...

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12. Going Multimodal: Programmatic, Curricular, and Classroom Change

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pp. 282-312

As the students note in this epigraph, we do not live in a monomodal world. Rather, we experience the world and communicate through multiple modalities. “To confine” students to learning in only one mode, typically the textual mode in first-year writing courses, indeed limits students’ understanding and creative potential—a point that has reemerged...

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13. Rhetoric across Modes, Rhetoric across Campus: Faculty and Students Building a Multimodal Curriculum

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pp. 313-336

In her 2004 chair’s address at the Conference on College Composition and Communication, Kathleen Blake Yancey (2004) articulated the concerns of composition colleagues curious—or anxious—about their pedagogical course of action in the “changing textual landscape.” Yancey reminded...


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pp. 337-344


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pp. 345-356

E-ISBN-13: 9780822978046
E-ISBN-10: 0822978040
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822962168
Print-ISBN-10: 0822962160

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 64 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Pittsburgh Series in Composition, Literacy, and Culture