Semiotic Resources

So far, in my first semester as a graduate student, I have been in strange worlds and familiar territories with unmapped quadrants. I have a little knowledge about networks and consequences of the network for users, viewers, and society. I know some things about the composition paradigms. I am familiar with rhetorical concerns in the writing classroom (genre, transfer, and disciplinary context). Some of those things have enabled me to gain a foothold in the content that I’ve read so far. But as for the rest of the content, I am very much starting from square one or drawing from casual/experiential knowledge.

One of the concepts that I had never considered squarely but seems to be fairly attainable and profitable for me is the notion of semiotic resources. As I understand semiotic resources, they are the modes of production, media, and forms/genres that are available for writers to construct meaning that is both culturally meaningful and available for the writer. This notion works well within an activity theory framework, because semiotic resources validate and are (re)made through cultural-historical practice. Like the meanings and importance of objects or cultural tools in activity theory, meanings associated with semiotic resources (and associated things: aesthetics, means/modes of production) are driven by circulation. Acts of circulation create, organize, and propel the writing that occurs within the space.

My question, a question that I will pursue for a little while, pertains to semiotic resources. In the literature that I have read, Goggin and Kress’s *Multimodality* discuss resource as something that is culturally available. But I wonder, what isn’t culturally available? So it would seem like there is something deeper at play driving the selection of resources than availability. I have a couple of thoughts so far — resources are tied to intellectual/ideological positions through a contextualized and extended practice of using those resources *&* resources that are used outside of its origin context (e.g. any print-based resource in 2012) —  are selected based on the intellectual/ideological position that acquired/developed during its moment of extended practice (original context) and participate in part because of the cultural baggage that the resource brings to the new context and in part because of the new cultural baggage that resource acquires. So my question is: Are resources selected only on the basis of availability? I have to say no. So the follow up is: On what other basis are resources selected? I am inclined to say that resources are embodied ideologies/intellectual positions, and to use a resource is to embody that ideology in the work being produced.

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