Thursday, February 24, 2011

For my research project, I would like to revise my assignment assignment so that it may incorporate it into my English 151 class. My goal is to preserve most of the core theory behind the assignment, but narrow the scope to a clearly defined medium and genre, making it more practical for an English 151 course. To accomplish this, I will first revise my project using Dr. Rouzie’s advice. Instead of trying to build a resource base that would be the foundation of my students’ multimodal essays, I will instead assign a classical argument essay that: a.) Incorporates text and image and b.) That will be posted on a student created blog using

Inspired by the article “Writing and Citizenship: Using Blogs to Teach First-Year Composition” by Charles Tryon. Tryon’s class was able to draw in people in the blogosphere by asking his students to seek out certain blogs and link them to their own blog response. In the spirit of this, I intend to link my essay to Queer blogs such as, and with composition blogs such as, to see if I can draw a broader audience using the network affordances of the blog. If I am successful, I can revise my assignment assignment to focus on this formula of exploration. Audience and purpose will be at the forefront; I can ask my students to identify blog audiences that will care about their subjects, hopefully teaching my students a more comprehensive understanding of audience.

I have already created a blog on, and I am somewhat familiar with its workings. For my multimodal essay, I will revise an alphabetic essay that I wrote for Dr. Nelson last quarter, but also incorporate images that will help to convey the overall message of the essay more persuasively. The essay’s central focus is to question how we a composition pedagogues can explore Queer subjectivities in the classroom and hopefully capitalize on the increasing awareness of Queer brought about by the recent media coverage of gay teen suicides. The reasons I chose this essay are fourfold. First, I put a lot of work into this essay, critically assessing every bit of scholarship I could find, thus, I feel is should be shared. Second, this work will likely be of interest to Queer people as well as teachers of composition. Third, so that I can experiment with MLA formatting as well as exploring citation with images within the genre of a blog. Lastly, it will allow me to test how successful this assignment could be in the hope of using it in the spring.

Though I will not be researching collaboratively for this project, as my students will, that part of the assignment has already been tried and true during my first two quarters teaching here (though Dr. Nelson’s feedback certainly qualifies as review). Thus, the collaborative research portion is not on trial with this experiment. What is on trial is: a.) Whether I can use the blog as an easy way to encourage students to incorporate text and image into their classical argument essays b.) Whether I can use the blog to reach a target audience beyond the classroom that will respond and c.) Possible test students’ comprehension of Chapter 9 of the Allyn and Bacon guide, “Analyzing Visual Rhetoric,” in addition to Chapter 10, “Writing a Classical Argument.”

The Affordances of New Media for Social Change

Both Communications studies and Rhetoric and Composition studies have explored the power of new media, internet networking and their affordances for social movements. The work of Cynthia Selfe explores how new media creates an environment where students compose for audiences both inside and outside the classroom. But with the recent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, the world bore witness to an event where social media, news media, and multimodal rhetoric are applied within a specific context—and with nation changing results. In light of this I will pursue the question: What can the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt teach us about the affordances of new media?

My analysis begins with Mouhammed Izzari, who set himself on fire to protest his perceived unfair treatment at the hands of Tunisian law enforcement. This image was propagated through both blogs and articles composed by news media groups such as Al Jeezera and the BBC, as well as social media sites Facebook and Twitter. These media outlets afforded people a network to share rhetoric that combined text and image as well as help rally support and coordinate their protesting efforts. I will provide examples of digital news media coverage as well as rhetoric composed by the people of Tunisia and Egypt, which I obtained from Facebook groups supporting the movement. By grounding theory within this event, and exploring the relationship between affordances of new media and civic engagement in particular, we can recognize that the Arab world may have taught us a valuable lesson in composing with new media for social change.

Monday, February 21, 2011

RD Conference Proposal

Affordances for the Oppressed

Both Communications studies and Rhetoric and Composition studies have explored the power of new media and internet networking. The work of Cynthia and Dickie Selfe in particular envisions a classroom where technology creates an environment for digital literacy, collaboration, personal agency, problem posing, and the affordances of new media to teach students valuable skills for composing for audiences both inside and outside the classroom. This is not without complication; others in composition study are apprehensive of focusing on the affordances of new media, but with the recent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, the world bore witness to an event where technology and rhetoric empowered an oppressed people to choose how they would be governed. In light of this, we as instructors of rhetoric and composition can explore the possibility that technology creates an environment were the oppressed can liberate themselves in a way that Paulo Freire could not have envisioned.

My cross-discipline analysis begins with Klandermans and Oegema’s civic voluntarism model to analyze both the conditions and adversities faced by social movements. Tunisia and Egypt provides a real example where new media and rhetoric both facilitate the conditions for advocacy while also transcending the adversities faced by their respective social movements. I will provide examples of multimodal rhetoric used by the Arab people and analyze the affordances of new media in collaboration, civic engagement, identity construction, audience and purpose. By grounding theory within this event, and exploring the relationship between composition and civic engagement in particular, we can recognize that the Arab world may have taught us a valuable lesson in composing with new media. I pursue the question: What can the Arab world teach us about composing with new media?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Final Assignment Assignment.

Please Click Here

Scribd will not decompress my example:

This image is a good example of what I would like to see from my students. This is from the “Visual Remix” project at OSU

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Blog reflection: I found the title box!

Since I am fond of academic epistemologies, for all their revelations and complications, I want to reflect on my blog in terms affordances. I would presume that the goal of having a blog assignment is to—in some sense—mimic the practice of the Elbow’s freewrite, but what new affordances does the blog offer me in order to communicate more affectively?

In the blog I am able to express my thoughts on the readings in alphabetic form, which allowed me to express my views without having to consider writing as just a product and a grade. Although we are being graded, the blog encourages me to write for more than just an assignment, I am writing for a broader audience. My audience is Dr. Rouzie, true, but also Claudia, Ashley, Amanda, John W., John H., Lana, SiYang, Matt V., and Matt N., which meant, for me, that I would need to consider everyone in that network. I feel this consideration hones my responses. I wanted very much to say something insightful and to consider the viewpoints of everyone in class. Because of this consideration, direct my responses accordingly. In terms of agency, this median affords me the opportunity to engage my peers in a place beyond the classroom as we can all collectively engage these texts through our blog compositions.

This dynamic seemed to situate me in certain ways. I play the believing and doubting game when I read the articles. I asked questions of them. I considered everything I have learned during my short time at OU as well as my education up until this point. I try to refine my understanding of what it is to compose as well as understand what it is to compose with new media and with multi-modalities. But in writing responses for the blogosphere, I am afforded the ability to see that some of my classmates share my concerns. I find through them some of the answers to my questions. I find through them new questions to ask. Thus, everything I write is not just the product just my interaction with the text, but the product of the interaction between the texts, my peers and myself, afforded through network that is the blog.

The blog afforded me the capability to consider a tremendous amount of scholarship in collaboration with a brilliant group of aspiring educators. I think this helped me in two ways: First, there was no need for me to rehash what was already stated, so I am often positioned to consider what the group perhaps had not, and second, if I was in consensus with my peers on an important point, then I would join the chorus of those who felt we were on to something—if both writing and repetition are important for cognition, and I would argue they are, then this helps us to really grasp the concepts offered by the readings.

I was also afforded the ability to bring in new material with hyperlinks. As I mentioned before, I consider my own lived experiences and education up until this point and attempt to make connection between my previous literacies and the new scholarship shared with us by Dr. Rouzie. But hyperlinks allow me to bring in outside material by allowing a quick reference to the kinds of interpretive frameworks, authors and concepts that I feel rhyme with the concepts introduced in the course. I suppose it is a little bit easier for me in this way as opposed to a purely written response, as I do not make the effort to thoroughly explain cognitive psychology or problem-posing education to those who are not familiar—though I would briefly summarize—but with the hyperlink I could just reference the material and provide a link so that my audience could engage the concepts on their own time. They did not have to simply take my word for it; the only distance between them and the information is a click of the mouse. Hyper links are like my own interactive citation; they share my angle of vision while also allowing my peers to look beyond my interpretations.

But my understanding of affordances here are two fold. In considering blogs as a genre, the technology allows me to network amongst my peers for collaborative learning as well as network between my different literacies in order to expand upon class concepts. But I also used a combination of alphabetic literacy with the use of images. The images I include on my blog afford me the ability to frame the concepts I am considering. For example, the concept of apophnia is not an easy concept to explain in volumes let alone in a short paragraph. But with the toast images I was able to give a very concrete example of how we tend to misinterpret random stimuli. Could I have made this point without the image? Sure, but not without a great deal of alphabetic text to articulate the point. Worth a thousand words? I think it was, but I should ask my audience. Could I have done this without the blog? Sure, but I in all my written responses for other courses I have yet to include a single image. So maybe the blog encourages multimodality purely by virtue of its design.

This is my first blog assignment and it was not until composing this last entry that I realized how much I appreciate it. Hopefully my audience did as well. That is the point right? That we all learn something? And that we learn what this has the capability to do?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I decided to take a minute and try and answer some of the questions posed by Dr. D. Selfe on page 177. What he provides us in figure 12.4 is a sort of brainstorming exercise to prepare ourselves to (persuasively) plead our case to administrators of the university—people whose resources we are likely to need in order to be accomplished educators in multimodal composition.

“Why does the teacher consider multimodal composition important in terms of students’ education?

For me, it comes down to affordances and heuristics.

As an instructor I am especially interested in how language is used to construct meaning (identities, morals, values, geographies, memes, etc). We are surrounded by new media. We are consumers and producers of multimodal composition. To keep this freight train from running away with us, Rhetoric and Compositon should be aware of genre conventions and how mediums and modalitites both express and construct meaning—perpetuating memes and representative heuristics.

With heuristics we are grounding the work in trial and error. We do not have to waste time convincing a student of what is valuable or proper or right, we can use technology to allow our students to test their “meaning making” in real time, by engaging each other withing the classroom and engaging beyond the classroom.

“What does the teacher expect students to accomplish in multimodal compostions?”

By building a knowledge base around technology, students learn the value of relationship building and collaboration. This new relationship breaks down the hyperbolic sense of individuality in learning and composing and favors the more practical approach of people coming together to build knowledge. We are social beings, our pedagogy should reflect this in the way we constuct the environment of the classroom.

By engaging each other in constant revision and planning, students are able to learn valuable skills for revising their work, therby learning about the recursive nature of writing. And we collaborate at all stages of the project, including the way it is graded, insuring that the evaluation matches the pedagogy.

“How are teacher’s efforts to integrate digital technology into classes connected to various scholarly interests?”

This question can also be grounded in affordances heuristics when pared with an awareness of audience and purpose as well as genre. Whatever the discipline, we can identify the kind of composition/communication that is customary for a particular field, which undoubtedly uses some form of digital technology to communicate. The medium of the computer, I think is safe to say, is a staple in nearly every home and business in the United States. Genre is tied to professions. Affordances allow us to consider how different digital modalities are utilized within different genre’s for rhetorical affects. Not only can students gain familiarity with the tools that they will likely use in their field, but they can also learn by constant revision and interaction how to use modialities and mediums affectively within their genre/profession/interest of choice. The test is in the way their multimodal compositions can influence each other, the teacher, and even (in some cases) maybe tested against individuals already in the students' field of interest.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

This post will consist largely of a close reading/anecdotal response to the Table 2.1 in MC, based largely on my (still growing) experience teaching English 151 at Ohio university. I am a little critical of some of the assumptions made in this table regarding the first-year composition students proficiency to analyze and compose written text.

"Students have considerable experience choosing topics for written essays--although their skills need developing and refining."

I would agree that students are able to select a topics and produce an essay. But what is unique in this program, and thankfully so, is that we value writing as a process of exploration--which my students demonstrate very limited capability in doing so early in the course. I do not focus on choosing a topic and simply supporting/arguing a thesis, I instead focus on delayed thesis techniques to encourage critical engagement, which I feel is the real goal of the essay assignments (audience and purpose and genre of course are considered). To say their skills "need developing and refining" may be too polite in some cases, with some students I am encouraging a complete re-imagining of what an essay is and does.

"Students have basic familiarity with composing ...locating materials...downloading and documenting sources..."

Many of my 151 students are engaging this for the first time, and many view documentation as a way to avoid getting in trouble or cheating (Ashley did a great job pointing this out with her presentation). The re-imagining of what citation is and to critically engage its purpose is more than just memorizing genre and convention, it is engaging what how ideas are able to progress by building upon and revising the writing of others and using documentation to, yes offer credit, but to share what is a constantly changing pool of knowledge within and outside the academy.

"Students generally know how to save, print...share them in digital environments."

I agree. But learning how to submit essays on blackboard seems difficult for some, a point that I think the authors quasi-explore in chapter 3 page 36, "Devote attention to the technical side of production."

"Students have acquired a great deal of semiotic...understanding of English and can put this knowledge to work in writing alphabetic essays."

Perhaps I am the only one, but in my classes are hear the 'It just is' argument a lot. Writing essays and facilitating class discussions allow both instructor and teacher to use both critical theory and schemas to engage semiotic meaning. My students seem to not have a "great deal of semiotic understanding" coming into the classroom, or maybe they are just nervous engaging it. In any case, I agree that multimodal education has the power to look at affordances in order to understand how meaning is constructed and conveyed. But I would caution against assuming our students "have a great deal" of semiotic understanding regarding written texts.

"Students may need a great deal of help operating equipement..."

I probably do as well, and I am probably more familiar than most (I worked in retail AND I am sort of a tech geek). Technology changes so quickly, this will likely be a constant process. Do we have access to technical assistance through university channels? And remember what Dickie says, establish a knowledge base of our own and have a backup plan in case something goes wrong (D. Selfe 20, 22).

I don't know if anyone else shares my opinion, but while the authors of these articles acknowledge the caveats against trivializing stylistic conventions of alpabetic texts, they also seem to exaggerate either the differences between alphabetic meaning and other modes, or they exaggerate a student's familiarity with these conventions. Is there such a need to differentiate the two? How different are they?

In fairness I think the subsequent chapters address this (audio to convey an accent or a tone...etc.), but perhaps until I am able to work with it myself, it remains abstract to me. We eva gonna have a workshop on dis shit?