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Revision and Remix

posted: 10.22.10 by archived

When I began teaching with Ways of Reading, I had a hard time coming up with assignments that fit with my pedagogical interest in multimodal composition.  However, I discovered that composing audio and/or visual remixes is a useful way for students to put authors Bartholomae and Petrosky’s concept of revision into practice.  For those of you who are interested in finding ways to integrate technology into your composition courses, the remix is a compositional genre worth exploring.

“The Remix Project” was the final assignment in my seminar on composition, a course designed around the concept of revision as a “re-vision, or re-seeing” as Bartholomae and Petrosky write. Throughout the semester, we practiced revision as an act of transformation that alters the meaning of the original text.  By the end of the term, students had already radically revised (or remixed) several of their textual essays.

The remix project, then, gave them an opportunity to experiment with revision techniques through multiple modes of composition.

Their task was to create a remix using preexisting materials (text, video, images, audio, film, found objects, or mixed media).  In other words, this remix had to be comprised of quotations—a composition based entirely on the work of others.  The goal was to remix these materials and present them in a way that radically revised the authors’ original ideas.  Students had to ask themselves, “how could I combine/edit/revise these materials in a way that enables me to say something new about them?”

Earlier in the semester we read Linda Nochlin’s “Renoir’s Great Bathers” and talked a lot about what it means to position your own perspective among the perspectives of others.  The Nochlin essay provided a great resource and framing device for the remix project, which invited students to create a text that is composed entirely of other perspectives as a way of advancing their own fresh perspective.

We also spent some time discussing excerpts from Adrienne Rich’s “When We Dead Awaken.”  Ways of Reading essays like Nochlin’s and Rich’s, as well as outside sources specifically about the remix and/or revision, helped students grapple with the idea of revision as “the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction…” (Rich 522).  Making connections between the textual essays and audio/video remixes also served to illuminate the relationship between alphabetic and multimodal composing practices.

My students’ notion of revision changed noticeably throughout the semester.  In their final reflections, many wrote that the remix project (in conjunction with the essays) helped them think differently about revising textual papers and multimodal projects for other classes.  In my experience, then, the remix genre enabled students to participate in the kind of critical conversations and writing practices that Ways of Reading values, while also exposing them to newer, increasingly important forms of multimodal composition.


WOR3Steph Ceraso came to Pitt in 2008 after completing an M.A. program at the University of Vermont and a Visiting Lectureship at Western Carolina University. She is currently working on an interdisciplinary project that examines how listening, sound, sensation, affect, and technologies shape literacy practices. Steph is interested in questions concerning the history of sound technologies and listening practices, mind/body dualisms and mind-body complexes, and the role of affect in cognitive processes: What exactly happens in our bodies when we listen? How do biological, affective, and cognitive processes interact or collaborate during a listening event? How have technological developments shaped human listening? How might we understand sound and listening differently when heard through theories of affect, sensation, and systems? How has remix culture transformed the act of listening and what legal constraints prevent sharing certain acts of listening? What does all of this have to do with literacy?

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Categories: Pitt Instructors, Revising
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