Ball, Cheryl E. (2006, November). Designerly ≠ readerly: Re-assessing multimodal and new media rubrics for writing studies. Convergence: The International Journal for Research into New Media Technologies, 12, 393–412. Special issue on re-assessing new media.
In this article, I draw on Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen’s (2001) Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication and Lev Manovich’s (2001) The Language of New Media, which have become prevalent texts in US writing studies fields—a place where multimodal and new media theories have made inroads in the last five years. I briefly describe each of the rubrics the authors used and show how they help readers determine the materialities of multimodal or new media texts. I also argue, however, that writing studies scholars should not rely solely on these rubrics because they function in descriptive ways rather than in interpretive ways for new media texts. In other words, I will show that while a reader could use these rubrics to describe some of the design elements in new media texts, readers cannot use the rubrics to interpret those design elements in ways that would allow them to form a reading of the text. I apply the rubrics to a new media text, “While Chopping Red Peppers” (Ankerson, 2000), to show their limited use and to suggest that while these multimodal and new media theories have a place in writing studies, we need better methods and/or reading heuristics in order to interpret (and teach) such works.
- convergence (pdf)