Multimodal composition: What is it? How do writing programs teach it and assess it? And how are we incorporating aspects of multimodal composition into our classes now? These were some of the foundational questions we had for our spring seminar. What did we do to find answers to these questions? First, we roamed through texts and videos that gave us a sense of theoretical and practical conversations on multimodalities by scholars such as Cynthia Selfe and Pamela Takayoshi, Tracey Bowen and Carl Whithaus, Heidi A. McKee and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss, and Johanna Drucker. Then, we had an intense and informative overview of digital humanities as a field and its presence at BU by Vika Zafrin, BU’s Digital Scholarship Librarian. We also benefited from perspectives from Educational Technologist Amod Lele and Mugar Library’s Head of Liaison and Instruction, Ken Liss.
Next, we had a stimulating time looking at the work being done in the program now – from attendees at the seminar, we learned about MediaKron projects (Gwen Kordonowy and Laura Heath); PowerPoint design and using selfies for reflection (Liz Stephens); using Omeka for annotated bibliographies (Ryan Weberling); and using image and narrative as a complement to writing (Deb Breen and Jason Prentice). Other instructors – Somy Kim, Karen Robbins and Amy Bennett-Zendzian – were not able to attend but circulated information on their work, including, respectively, Twitter, Instagram and Digication. Finally, we had the opportunity to workshop current or future assignments.
What we got out of our discussions: a sense of where multimodality fits within writing program curricula, excitement about the various approaches that are currently in place in WP and enthusiasm to keep exploring the potential of multimodal composition within our program and in the university as a whole. Thanks to all who made it such a rewarding learning experience!