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Remix as “Concept, Material and Method” in FYC by Kiley Dhatt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Image via tonx, licensed under Creative Commons with some rights reserved

Image via tonx, licensed under Creative Commons with some rights reserved

As the digital public increasingly embraces multimodal communication, the print-centered academy has begun to sense that it must decide between brand new modes of making meaning, or complete obsolescence. And when it comes to the college writing classroom, multimodal composition seems like the perfect way to engage our “digital native” students, moving away from the stuffy, boring prose of traditional academic writing.

But what do we risk by assuming that traditional academic writing is our past, and multimodal composing is our future? How can we take advantage of the multimodal affordances of writing for the screen without giving up the intellectual practices that are central to being an academic? And perhaps most importantly, how can we do this in a way that captures our students’ interest and bridges the seemingly ever-widening gap between public discourse and the college writing classroom?

These are the central questions taken up in this project. The website borrows its title from Kathleen Blake Yancey, who has written about Florida State University’s “use of remix as concept, material and method” to redesign its graduate program in composition and rhetoric.  In this site, however, I explore the ways in which remix might serve well as “concept, material and method” for teaching alphabetic and multimodal composing as intrinsically related practices in first year composition (FYC).

The site is broken down into three parts:

Concepts: A digital essay, in which I argue that multimodal remix can and should be understood as participating in an intellectual practice not dissimilar to alphabetic academic writing. Its sections are mostly intended to be read in order, although below I provide brief summaries of each section so that it is also possible to skip around:

  • Key Terms — Quick definitions of important terms, including multimodal writing, alphabetic writing, academic writing, and remix.
  • I: The Same Refrain — An introduction to the essay, which describes my concern with the way academic writing is perceived, by university students and scholars alike, as fundamentally separate from multimodal composition.
  • II: History/Futurity — An examination of the scholarly discourse surrounding alphabetic writing and multimodal composition, which seems to hinge on a dichotomy of past and future that fails to acknowledge the continuities between the two.
  • III: Textual Layers — An argument that multimodal remix and academic writing share the fundamental intellectual practice of selecting, excerpting and arranging layers of other texts.
  • IV: Resonance & Dissonance — A demonstration of the way multimodal remix and academic writing both rely on the author’s ability to “hear” and manipulate resonance and dissonance between textual layers in order to make meaning.
  • References — Alphabetic lists of scholarly and multimodal references in the digital essay.

Materials: (Coming summer 2014.) In this section, I will share the materials I develop for teaching a first year composition course that takes remix as its concept, material and method. You can expect this section to eventually include a syllabus, set of readings, assignments, lesson plans, and other resources. Teachers are free to take (and remix!) anything they find remotely useful; no attribution is needed.

Methods: (Coming fall 2014.) In this section, I will blog about my teaching methods and experiences using remix as concept, material and method in my first year composition courses, sharing successes and failures alike. This will likely consist of narrative accounts, sharing student work (with permission, of course), and pleas for input and assistance from my fellow college writing teachers!

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