Posts Tagged ‘multimodal’

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Multimodal Mondays: Analyzing Rhetorical Power and Rhetorical Performance in “Amazing Grace”

posted: 7.6.15 by Andrea Lunsford

The other week I wrote about the murders in the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, and about the urgent need for writing teachers everywhere to engage students in both the active pursuit of understanding, peace, and justice—of making something good happen in the world through their own writing and speaking—and in rhetorical analysis of the context and discourses surrounding such events.

Then came the funeral of the Reverend Clementa Pinckney and President Barack Obama’s eulogy, at the conclusion of which he sang “Amazing Grace.”

If you have not watched the funeral and the eulogy, I urge you to do so now. I expect that teachers and students will be watching this eulogy for a long time to come: it is arguably one of Obama’s most powerful orations ever.

And then came many commentaries on and responses to the President’s eulogy, including that of writer, journalist, and correspondent forThe Atlantic James Fallows, with an analysis entitled “Obama’s Grace” (June 27, 2015).

Fallows’s analysis, along with President Obama’s eulogy, makes the beginnings of a terrific lesson in rhetorical power and rhetorical performance. As Fallows says, students need to watch and hear Obama’s oration rather than read it: here, the spoken word is crucial, allowing us to follow the oral rhythms, the pacing, the pauses, the crescendos, the depths and pinnacles of tone the President achieves. As they did in ancient Greece, the performative aspects of the eulogy—which are very strong and very instructive—link perfectly with the President’s message; in fact, they deliver that message as much as the words themselves, and perhaps even more.

As Fallows points out, Obama chooses grace as the unifying motif and theme of the eulogy, a “stroke of genius” on his part. In his analysis, Fallows traces the use of that word and allusions to the hymn “Amazing Grace,” showing how Obama carefully frames his remarks, even on policy, in light of that concept (rather than “justice” or “equity”). “We don’t earn grace,” said the President; “We’re all sinners. We don’t deserve it. But God gives it to us anyway.”  Thus Obama gestures toward the act of forgiveness the survivors offered, rather than rate or hatred. “God has visited grace upon us, for he has allowed us to see where we’ve been blind.” (Indeed, Obama uses what comes after those words in the hymn—“but now I [or we] see”—as a drum beat throughout the eulogy.

Fallows also attends to the cadences of the President’s speech and especially to the way he switches registers, or code-switches between African American and white ways of speaking. As Fallows puts it, “Sometimes he spoke almost as if he were an A.M.E. preacher, . . . [and sometimes as a] neutrally professional-class-white-American,” shifts that “illustrated his own bridging potential” for bringing people together.

What I’d like to do is work with students to listen and respond to Obama’s eulogy; then to read and respond to Fallows’s essay; and then to go back to the speech, listen to it again, and carry out their own rhetorical analysis. They can begin by looking closely at the elements Fallows discusses: the theme of grace, the shifts in register, and the use of religion, which Fallows says may open even those who hate him the most to the “grace of such a presentation.” But as teachers of writing and rhetoric know, there is so much more to be noted in this speech: the use of anaphora and other figures of speech; the bringing together of emotional, logical, and ethical appeals in connecting not only to the congregation in the church but to people around the world; the power of orality/aurality throughout, and especially in the conclusion, as he pauses long—and then begins to sing, slowly, “Amazing Grace.”

So, out of the horror and tragedy inflicted on the Emanuel AME Church, the Black community of Charleston, and throughout the country, this eulogy offers students of writing and speaking an opportunity to see how an attempt to change the national discourse actually works, and to examine their own discourses as well. That is one of the ultimate gifts of rhetoric: the ability not only to analyze the words and acts of others but to turn that same analytical power on ourselves and use what we learn to become better writers, better speakers, better people.

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Categories: Andrea Lunsford, Multimodal Mondays
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Multimodal Mondays: What Counts as Multimodal? Creating Dialogic Learning Opportunities in Online Discussion Forums

posted: 6.29.15 by Andrea Lunsford

Today’s guest blogger is Jeanne Law-Bohannon.

Every week, I read Andrea’s Multimodal Mondays blog.  I am as much a consumer of the amazing material posted by colleagues as I am a producer of my own content.  Now that summer is upon us, I would like to use my space on the blog to explore expanding examples of multimodal composition, to ask “what counts,” as lessons, assignments, and writing opportunities for students. I also want to investigate how students themselves perceive their learning from multimodal compositions. [read more]

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Categories: Andrea Lunsford, Collaboration, Digital Writing, Multimodal Mondays, Teaching with Technology
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The LOPRA Awards!

posted: 6.11.15 by Andrea Lunsford

For the last couple of years I’ve posted during late May or early June about “why I love spring term.” And now even though I am officially retired, I still love spring term, because it’s the time of so many celebrations of student accomplishments. A couple of weeks ago, Stanford had four celebrations for student writing—one for outstanding writing in the first-year course, one in the second-year course, one in the Writing in the Major course, and one for writing of students in the fairly new Science Writing notation program. In my view, we can never give too many awards, can never celebrate too much for the work our terrific students are doing. [read more]

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Categories: Andrea Lunsford, Presentations
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Snapchat in the Classroom?

posted: 6.4.15 by Andrea Lunsford

Recently, I read an article in the New York Times about Snapchat, the video messaging app that has barnstormed its way toward valuations in the billions of dollars. The article’s title, “Snapchat: A New Mobile Challenge for Storytelling,” caught my attention and got me looking around the Snapchat site and watching some of their “stories.” The ones I watched were mostly reportorial, with someone giving information accompanied by images. But they got me wondering about other kinds of stories and how they might be told and circulated via Snapchat. [read more]

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Categories: Andrea Lunsford, Popular Culture, Teaching with Technology
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Multimodal Mondays: Using Listicles to Help Students Engage with Sources

posted: 5.18.15 by Andrea Lunsford

Today’s guest blogger is Caitlin L. Kelly, a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology where she teaches multimodal composition courses using 18th– and 19th-century British literature and serves as a Professional Tutor in the Communication Center. Alongside work on the intersection of religion and genre in British literature of the Long Eighteenth Century, she is also interested in exploring applications of a multimodal approach to composition to traditional literature pedagogy.

One of the most difficult assignments to teach is the one at the heart of most college composition courses: the research project. Taking students from brainstorming a topic to a polished argument over the course of a semester is daunting; in the composition classroom, we are tasked with teaching—under very inorganic circumstances—a research process that should evolve organically. And one of the most challenging parts of that process for many students is learning how to engage with sources once they have found them. This is where the listicle comes into play in my courses. [read more]

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Categories: Andrea Lunsford, Assignment Idea, Digital Writing, Genre, Guest Bloggers, Multimodal Mondays, Peer Review, Teaching with Technology, Uncategorized, Visual Rhetoric
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Multimodal Mondays: Re/Mixing and Wrapping Up: Students’ Perspectives on “Doing” Multimodalities

posted: 5.11.15 by Andrea Lunsford

Today’s guest blogger is Jeanne Bohannon.

 I have written several posts this semester about how to re/mix traditional writing assignments into meaningful, multimodal compositions. Today’s post is my last for the semester, so I want to wrap up with one last re/mixed mission from a traditional research essay and then yield the post to my students to share their thoughts about “doing” multimodalities.

For me, democratic learning must include students’ buy-in to a project, from the building of the assignment parameters to the learning outcomes.  Making these digital endeavors meaningful to students’ lives is also vital to engendering rhetorical writing.  Projects that center on building meaningful digital literacies also enhance authentic engagement and meet the same learning outcomes as traditional “Dear Teacher” essays. But you don’t have to take my word for it.  Hear it from my students, who have worked with multimodal assignments throughout a semester at a large, state comprehensive university [read more]

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Categories: Andrea Lunsford, Assignment Idea, Digital Writing, Guest Bloggers, Multimodal Mondays
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Multimodal Mondays: Radical Revision ~ The Sequel ~ Student Multimodal Hacks

posted: 4.27.15 by Andrea Lunsford

Today’s guest blogger is Kim Haimes-Korn. She continues her series on Radical Revision – and includes assignments and examples of student projects that you don’t want to miss!

In my last post, Radically Revising the Composition Classroom, I challenged others to hack their traditional, tried and true assignments.  I decided to enact this advice in one of my own classes this semester and gave the same challenge to my students, asking them to Radically Revise a collaborative class project through a multimodal lens.   [read more]

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Categories: Andrea Lunsford, Assignment Idea, Digital Writing, Document Design, Guest Bloggers, Multimodal Mondays, Peer Review, Revising, Teaching with Technology
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Student Success in Savannah

posted: 4.21.15 by Traci Gardner

I spent the weekend in wonderful Savannah, Georgia, at the Student Success in Writing Conference. The wonderful event led me to conversations with teachers from high schools, two-year colleges, and four-year colleges.

I got to meet Bits guest bloggers Kim Haimes-Korn and Jeanne Bohannon, who presented on “Transcending Tech-Tools: Engaging Students through Critical Digital Pedagogies.” Jeanne shared a video animation project that focused on “A Day in the Life” stories that developed students’ critical thinking skills by requiring them to consider another point of view, and Kim talked about an assignment that asks students to use digital timeline tools to publish literacy narratives. I’m hopeful that they will share more details in a future post. [read more]

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Categories: Activity Idea, Digital Writing, Student Success, Teaching with Technology, Traci Gardner
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Multimodal Mondays: Play day!

posted: 4.20.15 by Andrea Lunsford

Today’s guest blogger is Monica Miller, a Marion L Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow in the school of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech, specializing in digital pedagogies and multimodal composition. She received her Ph.D. from Louisiana State University in 2014, where she studied American literature, with concentrations in Southern Literature and Women’s and Gender Studies. Her work focuses on the intersections of region and gender. Her current book project, Don’t Be Ugly: The Ugly Plot in the Work of Southern Women Writers, examines the ways in which ugliness marks fictional characters who are excluded from traditional gender roles of marriage and motherhood.

“My friend said that his 1101 class was the best, because they watch videos all day—but he doesn’t get to play with Play-doh like we do!” –Overheard in my first year, multimodal, “maker culture”-themed composition classroom. [read more]

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Categories: Activity Idea, Andrea Lunsford, Collaboration, Guest Bloggers, Multimodal Mondays
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Tools for Faking Social Media

posted: 4.14.15 by Traci Gardner

Students in the writing and digital media course that I teach have started work on their final project, the “remix a story” project that I have mentioned in previous posts. For this project, students choose a story (fiction or nonfiction) and retell that story using digital composing tools. The goal is to get beyond primarily linguistic stories to create stories that engage multiple modes of communication fully.

Many students will include social media as part of their remix. I have had projects that included things such as Twitter updates from Little Red Riding Hood and Facebook updates from characters in The Little Mermaid. As creative and fun as these projects are, they bring challenges [read more]

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Categories: Activity Idea, Digital Writing, Teaching with Technology, Traci Gardner
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