on multimodality: new media in composition studies

Alexander and Rhodes argue that by adopting multimodality – by including multimodality and new technologies – the field norms those technologies and has flattened the nuances of multimodality. Namely – for the sake of clarity and modularity – the field calls everything writing, disregarding the specific affordances, constraints, logics, and histories of modes. Further, the field imposes the terminology of print on new media texts: argument, support, claim, etc.

Their book is a call to better understand, to pay attention to the “specific rhetorical and production capabilities of new and multimedia.” Not understanding “may hamper our ability to understanding the challenges that multimedia bring” to understanding literacy and communicative possibilities.

The book tries to reimagine compostion is a field that deals with “the significant rhetorical affordances of new media.”

One recommendation they make is a historicized understanding of new media: “a consideration of different uses of media across time and in different contexts. Such an expanded history of new media shows us unequivocally that it has often been used not just in rationalist, essayist ways, but also in more poetic was that emphasize iteration, citation, parody, and pastiche

Pedagogy: track the changes in genre over time, observing the “play of differences with and within the medium”

Key: multimodality is both a view of communication in its multiple modes and a view of communication as interactive with multiple paths and possibilities (see: design, redesign)(see: Sheridan, Ridolfo, and Michel on collaboration)

Key: Literacy is ongoing (see: Sample’s 5 BASIC statements)

Key: transferability across media is a foray to rhetorical savvy and awareness (see: Wolff)

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