This semester, we will pursue an opportunity to publish digital scholarship in the fields of rhetoric, technology, and pedagogy–that is, we’ll be researching a topic about digital writing studies (defined in class, and broadly at that) and composing a piece of digital scholarship that enacts its content through its form. Some academics call this kind of scholarship “born-digital” because it has no analog counterpart. One rule of thumb about born-digital scholarship is that it can’t be printed and retain its meaning. Born-digital scholarship takes many forms, but usually includes multiple media as a necessary part of its argument.
Multiple media is partly where the name of this class — Multimodal Composition — comes from. The term multimodal, as it is used here in this academic setting, refers to multiple modes of communication including linguistic, visual, spatial, gestural, and aural ways of making meaning. The term comes from The New London Group’s (2000) seminal book, Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures, in which the authors describe their vision of what should be taught in schools and how. Their argument, as you might have guessed, is about having students learn in multiple ways, not favoring or privileging one mode of communication over the other. In this class, for instance, we will not be privileging the written word over aural, visual, or multimodal ways of communicating. In fact, the point of this class is to learn to communicate in multiple modes, and our particular focus this term will be in the varied genres available to born-digital scholarship.
Our end goal is to submit publishable pieces to appropriate scholarly venues. To prepare ourselves for this project, we will need to understand what multimodal composition and digital scholarship mean in writing studies now, which we will learn about by reading and analyzing print and digital, multimodal texts that relate to the history and currency of multimodal composition. We will also be producing several born-digital texts, culminating in a final, group projects that I will encourage you to submit for publication.
You do not have to be a technological expert to do well in this class. You will be learning technologies throughout; sometimes you will know more or less than your classmates, and I expect everyone to help each other as we proceed.