Ball, Cheryl E. (2005, September 7). Trans-cultural multimedia production in an English classroom. Conference of Open Source Learning & Instructional Technology, Logan, UT.
In English studies, the past decade has seen a dramatic shift toward analysis and production of multimedia texts (c.f. Cope & Kalantzis, 2000; Wysocki, Selfe, Johnson-Eilola, & Sirc, 2004). This shift is informed by the study of rhetoric, which we define as reading and composing texts with an understanding of a specific audience, purpose, and context. In Dr. Ball’s Perspectives on Writing and Rhetoric class, students analyze creative multimodal texts using multiple reading strategies, and then compose their own texts. Although this generation of students is typically well-informed about technology, most of them have never encountered a digital, multimodal text whose purpose is primarily aesthetic. Studying the rhetorical situation in what literary theorists such as Eco and Rosenblatt would call an “open,” readerdriven, adaptable text provides a rich learning experience for students.In this class, students read several examples of open texts including “Murmuring Insects” (Ankerson, 2001), which successfully uses Eastern and Western multimodal elements—including written, aural, visual, animated, and other modes of communication—to juxtapose calm with fear while honoring the events of September 11, 2001. In this presentation, we show this piece in contrast to student-produced multimodal texts that attempt to adopt cultural contexts of other writers, often unsuccessfully. We conclude by suggesting why some students’ attempts at adaptation in these creative and social media are hindered by localized contexts. In addition, we demonstrate how students who don’t attempt to adapt their creative work to other’s contexts often make stronger rhetorical choices in their multimodal texts while still meeting the needs of various audiences.