Part 3 – the final installment of reading response 7
After reading chapters one through four of Multimodality: a social semiotic approach to contemporary communication, I have some additional insights to my most recent analytical reflection post on my running mode and community. The most significant is how much the social is stressed in Kress’ book on multimodality. Using previous works we’ve read, the social influence is usually acknowledged in some fashion, but not at the forefront as with Kress.
My running community formed from people who like to communicate and represent themselves with beer, running, and fun. My running community grew in a small college town, primarily of various scientists, academics, and parents. We have nearly pro-level runners sometimes and we have lots of neurotically and competitively driven personalities. The group started as an escape, a pick-me-up on hump day, a combination of two loves, running and beer. It is still these things but the competitive, analytical, lovers of information that actually represented, or produced the group (and distributed…aaaalll the things), informed the communication and representation of the group.
We started keeping stats. Running stats (pretty normal, really). And beer stats. We put the serious on the silly and in turn the silly made our seriousness seem less serious.
On Multimodality: New Media in Composition Studies
Alexander and Rhodes also call up Sirc’s ‘Happening’ in their text on multimodality (like Palmeri that we read previously, and part of Sirc’s book on ‘Happening’). However, I gleaned from this book that it wasn’t so much about calling up Sirc’s concept of Happening exactly, it’s more about how his concept and ‘hippie’ scenarios allow from the non-traditional, doesn’t favor written text for writing and knowledge. Multimodality doesn’t really seem to me that they are going for the borderline spiritual in its complex experience. Multimodality seems more practical – or perhaps really what I mean is that it is in use almost everywhere – despite disparate levels of access. The immediacy of technology, the ubiquity of it, makes it so it seems ridiculous to not include multimedia/modality in our classrooms. The Happening aspect is that we don’t stifle other ways of knowing and that we recognize “ourselves as ‘irreducibly complex’ “ (202).
Complexity, obviously, is quite difficult. Alexander and Rhodes ask: “How do we expand our gaze to include multiple perspectives? How might we deploy an even celebrate our ‘permanently partial identities and contradictory standpoints?’ “ (200). These identities and contradictory standpoints are apparent in a variety of case studies, one that they mention is “Cho” the Virginia Tech shooter and the aftermath of that experience. In addition to it being an example of how immediacy effects texts and information now, an interesting contradiction or pull away from emphasis on grammar arose in the comments on “Cho.” In the first peer review in my class this semester (and really every semester so far) the intensity with which grammar is used to judge writing as “good” is apparently. Yet when a blogger noted that Cho’s writing was juvenile or bad – the backlash of the blogger missing what was really important, the content. I guess what I’m getting at, is despite the horrific scenario, it’s fantastic to have people prioritizing content over mechanics and grammar. I want so badly to get my students on board with this – though without this kind of tragedy. But then of course it always comes back to the responsibility of preparing students for their other classes.
More and more I realize, it isn’t really that many people in English that are pushing the current tradition – when they do it is because they are responding to the expectations of outside departments: ‘fix the students writing to appease my standards.’ I think that we will never solve or be able to fully integrate multimodality so long as the sciences (with all their funding) prioritize certain ways of knowing and communicating. And breaking that down is difficult indeed as they seek to be easily translatable, “objective,” or concise. It’s hard to get people engaged enough to realize the contradictory standpoint of scientific writing being objective (more like, it has an objective).
The way to get at these issues, audience awareness, using and not using multimodality in my English 101 class, is the idea of engagement that keeps coming up in this book. We need, “active, writerly participation” (105). And engagement as opposed to falling in line is something the scientists I’ve known and worked with recognize and extremely important. Engagement gets away from the “banking system” of education, “…it asks us to imagine ourselves as ‘irreducibly complex.’ It asks us to imagine ourselves as more” (202). Imagining ourselves as more is often really hard too, but usually something we would be hard pressed to disagree with doing.
I wanted to get at Storycenter that Rebecca Goodrich talked about at Friday’s colloquium – tying on to trauma and expression as well as College Saga, but I’m already a bit over the reading response requirement.
Exploring engagement – hope it doesn’t go awry. Update to be posted by 3pm 9/21/15
Engaging with my Freirian learning modes audio and physical.