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Composing Media Composing Embodiment

Composing Media Composing Embodiment

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Composing Media Composing Embodiment
    Book Description:

    "What any body is-and is able to do-cannot be disentangled from the media we use to consume and produce texts." ---from the Introduction. Kristin Arola and Anne Wysocki argue that composing in new media is composing the body-is embodiment. In Composing (Media) = Composing (Embodiment), they have brought together a powerful set of essays that agree on the need for compositionists-and their students-to engage with a wide range of new media texts. These chapters explore how texts of all varieties mediate and thereby contribute to the human experiences of communication, of self, the body, and composing. Sample assignments and activities exemplify how this exploration might proceed in the writing classroom. Contributors here articulate ways to understand how writing enables the experience of our bodies as selves, and at the same time to see the work of (our) writing in mediating selves to make them accessible to institutional perceptions and constraints. These writers argue that what a body does, and can do, cannot be disentangled from the media we use, nor from the times and cultures and technologies with which we engage. To the discipline of composition, this is an important discussion because it clarifies the impact/s of literacy on citizens, freedoms, and societies. To the classroom, it is important because it helps compositionists to support their students as they enact, learn, and reflect upon their own embodied and embodying writing.

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-881-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Education

Table of Contents

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    (pp. vii-x)
    Kristin and Anne
  2. INTRODUCTION: Into Between—On Composition in Mediation
    (pp. 1-22)
    Anne Frances Wysocki

    The following writing, put down a few days after my father died, reminds me of hearing his last breath. He was in the family room, where we’d put his hospital bed; from his bed he could see out into the green and azalea backyard where, in earlier years, he’d moved and worked so often. This writing also tells me about ways I have learned to feel:

    Life leaving a body still looks like a leaving, like breath or movement or animation removing itself. The body does seem discarded, an emptied out shell or container or glove. No wonder we once...


    • 1 DRAWN TOGETHER: Possibilities for Bodies in Words and Pictures
      (pp. 25-42)
      Anne Frances Wysocki

      A few years back, in an interview published in JAC, Stuart Hall suggested one reason production has always mattered to writing studies: Hall ties production to identity. He says that “there is no final, finished identity position or self” to be reflected in one’s writing; instead, as he describes the process of producing a written text, he says that

      while it’s true that you may have a very clear notion of what the argument is and that you may be constructing that argument very carefully, very deliberately, your identity is also in part becoming through the writing. (qtd. in Drew...

    • 2 PAUSING TO REFLECT: Mass Observation, Blogs, and Composing Everyday Life
      (pp. 43-59)
      Paul Walker

      What is it about a blog that prompts a consistent commitment to writing, and how do bloggers find time to be so involved in real or imagined conversations? I realize that many blogs don’t last beyond the first few posts, but even if the contributions don’t last, the many abandoned blogs (I’ve left two behind myself) still indicate a powerful initial desire to record ideas or random thoughts. This, of course, is what generates enthusiasm about new media—the ability of these technologies to facilitate communication between a writer/speaker and an audience without traditional gatekeepers.

      Yet, in that enthusiasm, the...

    • 3 AUTHORING AVATARS: Gaming, Reading, and Writing Identities
      (pp. 60-71)
      Matthew S. S. Johnson

      To claim that exploring identity—our own and that of others—is a common focus in the composition classroom would be absurd. Not because it isn’t so but because identity exploration has become so pervasive that making such a claim would amount to prosaic reporting of conventional wisdom for those even remotely familiar with contemporary pedagogical theory. We have even come to accept that identity is comprised of multiple selves (or, if we prefer, the self is comprised of multiple identities, whichever term we may wish to privilege), and that a single “self” may simultaneously occupy numerous subject positions.


      (pp. 72-84)
      David Parry

      While I do not want to paint too broad a picture, I think it is safe to say that the early reception of Wikipedia by the academy was characterized by glib dismissal, followed by open disdain. A few exceptions not withstanding, many academics and institutions ignored the early stages of its development, maintaining a healthy skepticism of an encyclopedia that “anyone could edit.” But as Wikipedia continued to develop, becoming one of the web’s most trafficked sites, so grew the attacks on the value of an internet encyclopedia edited and composed by millions. As it became clear that Wikipedia was...

    • 5 INFORMATION CARTOGRAPHY: Visualizations of Internet Spatiality and Information Flows
      (pp. 85-96)
      Jason Farman

      The term cyberspace has evoked the process of navigating and embodying the spatiality of the internet since the word was coined by William Gibson in his cyberpunk fiction. In spatial terms, cyberspace has also been understood as an emerging “frontier space” that users are able to construct freely to fit their particular needs. It is a space of exploration, of possibility, and of social connection on a global scale. While most internet users identify with the notion of “navigating” this space, the process by which this navigation occurs bears little resemblance to the ways we chart and move through material...

    • 6 MULTIMODAL METHODS FOR MULTIMODAL LITERACIES: Establishing A Technofeminist Research Identity
      (pp. 97-109)
      Jen Almjeld and Kristine Blair

      “But this isn’t research.”

      Dissertation director Kris Blair cringed when she heard these words from the graduate-college-appointed outside reader, a male faculty member from the college of technology and presumably someone amenable to doctoral candidate Jen Almjeld’s proposed dissertation topic on the rhetorical processes of identity construction within female users’ MySpace profiles. The outside reader’s skepticism was similar to what Blair experienced working with another graduate student, Christine Tulley, on her dissertation, which also employed a feminist methodology and a collaborative research study. (This experience is chronicled by Blair and Tulley in “Whose Research Is It Anyway?”). Although Christine’s and...

    • 7 WRITING AGAINST NORMAL: Navigating a Corporeal Turn
      (pp. 110-126)
      Jay Dolmage

      The dominant discourse surrounding the teaching of writing focuses on texts and thoughts, words and ideas, as though these entities existed apart from the bodies of teachers, writers, audiences, communities. As a discipline, broadly speaking, we in composition and rhetoric have not acknowledged that we have a body, bodies; we cannot admit that our prevailing metaphors and tropes should be read across the body, or that our work has material, corporeal bases, effects, and affects. Yet some recent attention to embodiment and to body politics in composition theory and research, and indeed the creation of a collection like this, suggest...

      (pp. 127-142)

      Much motivates writing teachers to open their classroom activities to multiple media and communication technologies. Not only do newer technologies make multimodal composing easier than earlier technologies did, but the proliferation of multimodal texts in all areas of our shared lives suggests that our responsibilities to students should include considering how we compose and engage others with some broad range of the media available to us.

      We have additional motivations in this book.

      In our introduction, in our discussions of twentieth-century media theory grounded in nineteenth-century theories about production, we argued that an individual’s production of media is about an...


      (pp. 145-161)
      Kristin Prins

      In her essay “Writing on the Bias,” Linda Brodkey describes her childhood approach to ballet as a series of rules that taught her “that dance is discipline, and discipline is a faultless physical reenactment of an ideal.” She notes that while codifications of practice into rules are meant to instruct, their use by those new to a practice “as often as not ground a ritual fascination with rules, the perfection of which is in turn used as a standard against which to measure one’s devotion to dance, religion, or writing rather than their performance as dancers, religieuses, or writers” (530)....

      (pp. 162-173)
      Aaron Raz Link

      In 2007, the University of Nebraska Press published the book What Becomes You in a series called “American Lives.” The book is a collaborative memoir in two voices. One of the voices was mine. The other voice belonged to my coauthor, Hilda Raz. The topic we used to shape the book’s questions about media and embodiment was sex change, and the sex change we looked at was my own. How we defined our two voices in print, and how those definitions related to the way audiences responded to the physical bodies of the authors, is the subject of this essay....

    • 10 WHOSE BODY?: Looking Critically at New Interface Designs
      (pp. 174-187)
      Ben McCorkle

      Think of it as the thin chrome line, the literal contact zone between the human body and the personal computer. Industry insiders refer to it as HCI—the human-computer interface—and it represents the convergence of the two data sets identified by Tom Willard in the epigraph above, exemplified by anyone suffering from mouse-induced carpal tunnel syndrome or confused by the concept of dragging a compact disc icon into a trashcan in order to eject it. It is along this thin line of demarcation that I propose we focus our critical attentions because soon that line will become blurred and...

      (pp. 188-212)
      Jonathan Alexander and Jacqueline Rhodes

      Ultimately, throughout, and before we even begin, we log on, we ask: How might I represent my own queerness? How might I figure queerness multimodally? More specifically, how might multimodality embody the queer in dynamic and productive dimensions? What is a multimodal queerness? What are its possibilities, and what are its limitations? We can read, see, hear, perhaps even touch the queer—and have it touch us through multiple senses, potentially even interactively. But what does such touch mean, particularly for those who may not be queer?

      The internet and the emergence of a variety of collateral multimedia composing and...

    • 12 IT’S MY REVOLUTION: Learning to See the Mixedblood
      (pp. 213-226)
      Kristin L. Arola

      Moments after dancing in my one and only powwow, I encountered something my mother, an Ojibwa Jingle Dancer (among other things), explains as commonplace.

      Having just finished a pink shawl dance—a dance organized to raise breast cancer awareness in native communities—I stepped outside to get some air and reflect on my experience dancing in a space I felt was reserved for “real” Indians, not mixedbloods like me. As I tried to overcome an overwhelming sense that the “real Indians” were staring at me and gossiping about how I didn’t belong, a woman and her two children approached me....

      (pp. 227-238)
      Karen Springsteen

      The representation above, created by the feminist art activist group the Guerrilla Girls, is a disruption of much more than the multitude of lounging, creamy-skinned women who line the walls of museums, silently offering come-hither looks. Not only does this image place a gorilla head on what should be Ingres’s beautiful grand odalisque, and not only was it displayed as posters on New York City busses, its use of words allows the concubine to speak, enacting a sarcastic challenge to the representation of women in the city’s Metropolitan Museum. It is disruptive precisely because those abilities of women to speak,...

    • 14 AFFORDING NEW MEDIA: Individuation, Imagination, and the Hope of Change
      (pp. 239-258)
      Kristie Fleckenstein

      On a dark stage, postindustrial music characterized by screeching electronic feedback loops and assorted noises fractures the silence. The skree of a computer connecting via modem to the internet complements the dissonant pulse of sounds. Then, an LED display, situated above the stage but still a part of the set, breaks the darkness, locating the play and the audience virtually. It flashes: “Welcome to Trangress O Yes. Com . . . that’s www. TOY. com! Real*Live* Bodies* Make* Art *4 * U!” In the midst of the cacophonous sounds and disorienting visuals, two actors emerge from the wings, responding to...

      (pp. 259-268)

      Following are activities that ask students to consider how they are embodied through—shaped by and shaping—relations that media encourage. Through articulating subject positions encouraged by different media and the activist possibilities of and for media, these activities ask students to take a mindful position in the media landscape.

      Growing out of issues of ethnicity, gender, and sexuality raised in “It’s My Revolution” and “Drawn Together,” this assignment asks students to consider how they identify themselves and then to examine online representations for these subject positions.

      Explore popular representations of various subject positions.

      Interrogate the usefulness of particular categories...