Revision as Method for Reshaping Multimodal Pedagogy in First-Year Composition

No Thumbnail Available
Alexander, Biven
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Middle Tennessee State University
From online classrooms to Instagram posts, podcasts, and portfolios, students regularly interact with multiple modes of expression and communication. While students habitually consume all manners of multimodal texts, they are increasingly expected to produce them as well. Writing presciently from the 1990s, the New London Group coined the term “multimodal,” which they define as any combination of audio, linguistic, spatial, visual, and/or gestural modes (80). This group of scholars views combining modes in “remarkably dynamic relationships” (80) as significant and note that “[i]n a profound sense, all meaning-making is multimodal” (81). Multimodal strategies are used in myriad ways in the composition classroom; yet, these methods often reinforce print writing strategies rather than treating multimodal composition as an independent form of expression. As a result, multimodal composing becomes a throughway for students instead of their final destination, a step to take on the way to writing the “real” paper or a creative outlet permitted only after a print paper is finished. In exploring this topic, my goal is to examine how multimodal composing is currently positioned in First-Year Composition classrooms through two data points: a discourse analysis of the course descriptions of 14 Tennessee universities and the results of a survey conducted at Middle Tennessee State University. Based on this data, I then explore how multimodal forms of composing are often mapped onto traditional composing processes, even when the two do not always align. I end by addressing systemic barriers that continue to disrupt multimodal pedagogy.
Multimodality, Pedagogy, Rhetoric and Composition