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Composing Media Composing Embodiment

Kristin L. Arola and Anne Frances Wysocki

Publication Year: 2012

“What any body is—and is able to do—cannot be disentangled from the media we use to consume and produce texts.” ---from the Introduction.

Kristin Arola and Anne Wysocki argue that composing in new media is composing the body—is embodiment. In Composing (Media) = Composing (Embodiment), they have brought together a powerful set of essays that agree on the need for compositionists—and their students—to engage with a wide range of new media texts. These chapters explore how texts of all varieties mediate and thereby contribute to the human experiences of communication, of self, the body, and composing. Sample assignments and activities exemplify how this exploration might proceed in the writing classroom.

Contributors here articulate ways to understand how writing enables the experience of our bodies as selves, and at the same time to see the work of (our) writing in mediating selves to make them accessible to institutional perceptions and constraints. These writers argue that what a body does, and can do, cannot be disentangled from the media we use, nor from the times and cultures and technologies with which we engage.

To the discipline of composition, this is an important discussion because it clarifies the impact/s of literacy on citizens, freedoms, and societies. To the classroom, it is important because it helps compositionists to support their students as they enact, learn, and reflect upon their own embodied and embodying writing.

Published by: Utah State University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-11

This book has its roots in early dissertation coffee shop conversations with my then chair, and now colleague and coeditor, Anne Frances Wysocki. Without those conversations, which continue today, this book would not be possible. And here’s to mindful conversations, to our generous and patient...

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Introduction. Into Between—On Composition in Mediation

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pp. 1-22

The following writing, put down a few days after my father died, reminds me of hearing his last breath. He was in the family room, where we’d put his hospital bed; from his bed he could see out into the green and azalea backyard where, in earlier years, he’d moved and worked so often. This...

Part 1. Media = Embodiment

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pp. 23-35

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1. Drawn Together: Possibilities for Bodies in Words and Pictures

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pp. 25-42

A few years back, in an interview published in JAC, Stuart Hall suggested one reason production has always mattered to writing studies: Hall ties production to identity. He says that “there is no final, finished identity position or self” to be reflected in one’s writing; instead, as he describes the process...

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2. Pausing to Reflect: Mass Observation, Blogs, and Composing Everyday Life

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pp. 43-59

What is it about a blog that prompts a consistent commitment to writing, and how do bloggers find time to be so involved in real or imagined conversations? I realize that many blogs don’t last beyond the first few posts, but even if the contributions don’t last, the many abandoned blogs (I’ve...

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3. Authoring Avatars: Gaming, Reading, and Writing Identities

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pp. 60-71

To claim that exploring identity—our own and that of others—is a common focus in the composition classroom would be absurd. Not because it isn’t so but because identity exploration has become so pervasive that making such a claim would amount to prosaic reporting of conventional wisdom...

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4. How Billie Jean King Became the Center of the Universe

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pp. 72-84

While I do not want to paint too broad a picture, I think it is safe to say that the early reception of Wikipedia by the academy was characterized by glib dismissal, followed by open disdain. A few exceptions not withstanding, many academics and institutions ignored the early stages of its development...

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5. Information Cartography: Visualizations of Internet Spatiality and Information Flows

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pp. 85-96

The term cyberspace has evoked the process of navigating and embodying the spatiality of the internet since the word was coined by William Gibson in his cyberpunk fiction. In spatial terms, cyberspace has also been understood as an emerging “frontier space” that users are able to construct

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6. Multimodal Methods for Multimodal Literacies: Establishing A Technofeminist Research Identity

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pp. 97-109

Dissertation director Kris Blair cringed when she heard these words from the graduate-college-appointed outside reader, a male faculty member from the college of technology and presumably someone amenable to doctoral candidate Jen Almjeld’s proposed dissertation topic on the rhetorical...

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7. Writing Against Normal: Navigating a Corporeal Turn

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pp. 110-126

The dominant discourse surrounding the teaching of writing focuses on texts and thoughts, words and ideas, as though these entities existed apart from the bodies of teachers, writers, audiences, communities. As a discipline, broadly speaking, we in composition and rhetoric have not acknowledged...

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pp. 127-141

Much motivates writing teachers to open their classroom activities to multiple media and communication technologies. Not only do newer technologies make multimodal composing easier than earlier technologies did, but the proliferation of multimodal texts in all areas of our shared lives suggests...


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pp. 143-155

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8. Crafting New Approaches to Composition

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pp. 145-161

In her essay “Writing on the Bias,” Linda Brodkey describes her childhood approach to ballet as a series of rules that taught her “that dance is discipline, and discipline is a faultless physical reenactment of an ideal.” She notes that while codifications of practice into rules are meant to instruct,...

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9. Bodies of Text

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pp. 162-173

In 2007, the University of Nebraska Press published the book What Becomes You in a series called “American Lives.” The book is a collaborative memoir in two voices. One of the voices was mine. The other voice belonged to my coauthor, Hilda Raz. The topic we used to shape the book’s questions...

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10. Whose Body? Looking Critically at New Interface Designs

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pp. 174-187

Think of it as the thin chrome line, the literal contact zone between the human body and the personal computer. Industry insiders refer to it as HCI—the human-computer interface—and it represents the convergence of the two data sets identified by Tom Willard in the epigraph above, exemplified...

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11. Queerness, Multimodality, and the Possibilities of Re/Orientation

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pp. 188-212

Ultimately, throughout, and before we even begin, we log on, we ask: How might I represent my own queerness? How might I figure queerness multimodally? More specifically, how might multimodality embody the queer in dynamic and productive dimensions? What is a multimodal queerness?...

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12. It’s My Revolution: Learning to See the Mixedblood

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pp. 213-226

Having just finished a pink shawl dance—a dance organized to raise breast cancer awareness in native communities—I stepped outside to get some air and reflect on my experience dancing in a space I felt was reserved for “real” Indians, not mixedbloods like me. As I tried to overcome an overwhelming...

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13. Visible Guerrillas

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pp. 227-238

The representation above, created by the feminist art activist group the Guerrilla Girls, is a disruption of much more than the multitude of lounging, creamy-skinned women who line the walls of museums, silently offering come-hither looks. Not only does this image place a gorilla head on...

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14. Affording New Media: Individuation, Imagination, and the Hope of Change

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pp. 239-258

On a dark stage, postindustrial music characterized by screeching electronic feedback loops and assorted noises fractures the silence. The skree of a computer connecting via modem to the internet complements the dissonant pulse of sounds. Then, an LED display, situated above the stage but...

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pp. 259-267

Following are activities that ask students to consider how they are embodied through—shaped by and shaping—relations that media encourage. Through articulating subject positions encouraged by different media and the activist possibilities of and for media, these activities ask students to...

Works cited

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pp. 269-278


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pp. 279-289

About the Authors

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pp. 291-293

E-ISBN-13: 9780874218817
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874218800

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • English language -- Rhetoric -- Computer-assisted instruction.
  • Online data processing -- Authorship -- Study and teaching.
  • English language -- Rhetoric -- Computer network resources.
  • Report writing -- Study and teaching -- Data processing.
  • English language -- Rhetoric -- Study and teaching.
  • Report writing -- Computer-assisted instruction.
  • Mass media -- Authorship -- Study and teaching.
  • Report writing -- Computer network resources.
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