Multiple media is partly where the name of this class — Multimodal Composition — comes from. The term multimodal, as it is used here in this academic setting, refers to multiple modes of communication including linguistic, visual, spatial, gestural, and aural ways of making meaning. The term comes from The New London Group’s (2000) seminal book, Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures, in which the authors describe their vision of what communication strategies should be taught in schools and how. Their argument, as you might have guessed, is about having students learn in multiple ways, not favoring or privileging one mode of communication (such as writing) over another. In this class, for instance, we will not be privileging the written word over aural, visual, or multimodal ways of communicating. In fact, the point of this class is to learn to communicate in multiple modes, and our particular focus this term will be in the varied genres available to scholarly multimedia (a term that will be explained in depth during class and in readings).

Our major project for this class is to compose collaborative scholarly multimedia pieces that we can potentially submit for publication in one of the peer-reviewed journals listed in this site’s sidebar. This is a major piece of academic writing, written *in/with* multimedia. To prepare ourselves for this project, we will need to understand what multimodal composition and digital scholarship mean in writing studies now, which we will learn about by reading and analyzing print and digital, multimodal texts that relate to the history of multimodal composition and scholarly multimedia, with a particular focus on undergraduate research in this area.


  • to develop and interrogate our reading and composing skills in multiple media
  • to experience multimodal composition as a process that includes analysis, invention, drafting, and revision across modes, media, and genres of texts
  • to understand that multimodal composition is both rhetorical and creative, which can be useful in many disciplines and settings
  • to investigate the impact of digital technologies on reading and producing multimedia texts
  • to have fun and learn by wowing ourselves and each other


  • all readings are linked to this website unless otherwise stated in class


  • comfortable stereo headphones with a 5-foot cable and a 1/8-inch input jack. You are required to bring headphones to class with you every day.
  • DropBox account (free)

I will provide some audio and video equipment. If you lose, break, or have this equipment stolen while it’s under your care, you are responsible for purchasing replacement equipment before I turn in your grade.

Any student needing to arrange a reasonable accommodation for a documented disability should contact Disability Concerns at 350 Fell Hall, 438-5853 (voice), 438-8620 (TTY).

You are here because you want to be in this class. So am I. I embrace the English studies model of this department but also value how all aspects of your undergraduate education come together to form your learning and life experiences. Together, we gladly learn and teach!

I have several expectations for you while in this class. You should:

  • come to every class,
  • make time to read everything assigned and to understand it (with my and the class’s help),
  • be open to voice related topics of interest to you,
  • complete your assignments on time and with creativity and care,
  • provide thoughtful discussion in and out of class,
  • be flexible and patient, especially when it comes to difference and to technology,
  • conduct yourself in ways suitable to your class colleagues and myself, and
  • do excellent work, because there are too many average students out there trying to get jobs for you to bother with anything less than excellence.

I value

  • thought-out (or at least informed) questions rather than off-the-cuff opinions, although you will have a place to do both in this class,
  • your bringing connections to light between classroom discussions and your prior experiences and other classes,
  • your being considerate and respectful of class members, technology, and me,
  • risk and creativity and multidisciplinarity and self-learning and helpfulness, and
  • aha moments, which can turn into great discussions, projects, or (later) honors theses, internships, memorable moments, projects external to your classes, or even jobs.

Overall, I expect you to push yourselves to learn, a process which can take many forms.

From me, you should expect:

  • an interest in your academic work in this class and its connections to other classes you are taking;
  • an enthusiasm for teaching about multimodal composition, which includes theory, practice, history, technological literacies, multiple ways of knowing, and having fun;
  • a personalized approach to teaching;
  • an ability to go with the flow and to create learning scenarios that may sometimes seem quirky (what I call a Happenings pedagogy); and
  • a desire to help you connect with multimodal composition in a way that suits you. (Know that I try to read minds, but may occasionally I will need some clues from you!)

From each other, we expect:

  • push your boundaries; use our differences to create something bigger/cooler
  • help each other out
  • be respectful
  • groupwork gets completed in a timely manner and things don’t get left to the last minute.
  • make good use of each other
  • understand that peer feedback is meant to improve the collective projects
  • don’t be afraid to give criticism that points out flaws/problems or what is working in the text
  • value equal contributions in groupwork and discussions
  • don’t be a control freak OR a slacker
  • everybody’s ideas should be considered thoroughly/equally
  • don’t steal other people’s ideas
  • keep an open mind; don’t shut anybody down
  • good communication
  • address problems immediately and head-on (nicely). Don’t let things stew.
  • don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!!


  • Analyses (Technology, Venue/Audience, Genre, etc.)
  • Project Proposal & Pitch
  • Collaborative scholarly project
  • Peer-Reviews with Annotations
  • Course Reflection


In this class, you are authors, and I will treat you the same as I treat the authors who submit to the journal I edit, Kairos. That means I expect you to learn about and follow the social and cultural conventions of professional academic behavior, which I will help you learn during the semester. (These behaviors aren’t specific to academia — this is just the context in which we will discuss them.) Because this class focuses a great deal on professional development, writing/authoring, and digital publishing, my grading schema reflects that professionalism. Assigning letter or number grades does not improve your learning, just as telling an author that the journal rejects hir work for publication — without any explanation as to why — makes hir a better writer in the profession. I have set up this class so you can achieve the learning outcomes and excellence by providing structuring assignments that enhance your critical and creative thinking, and by offering a LOT of informal and formal feedback on your in-progress work.

what “feedback” means and what to do with it
Feedback often comes in the form of informal in-class discussions about your assignments and individual or group conferences. For instance, when I and your peers offer critiques of your draft projects, we assume that you will implement those revision suggestions into your drafts. When you don’t, you should have a very good reason in relation to the purpose of the text for not doing so. Otherwise, when I am reviewing your final project, I should be able to see your progress on the text from the time it was workshopped as well as from informal, in-class feedback or conferences with me. I hope that this grading system will allow you the freedom and flexibility to take risks in your assignments while also providing time for you to re-envision and revise those drafts into more usable, sophisticated, and polished texts by the end of the term.

Your grade is based on 100% class participation.
Participation includes

  • attendance: You are required to attend every class session unless the schedule specifically indicates that class is canceled that day. There are no such things as excused vs. unexcused absences—if you’re not here, I don’t much care why. If your absence is caused by a funeral or similar extenuating circumstances, I will take that into consideration when I consider your grade. If you miss more than one class, consider your grade in jeopardy. If you miss a workshop, you’ll be doubly in jeopardy. Also, attendance at out-of-class conferences with me is considered the same as class time. If you miss a conference, you will be counted absent.
  • timeliness: If you show up late or leave early or disappear (or fall asleep) for 15 minutes in the middle of class, it will affect your participation. Timeliness also refers to the time-sensitive nature of completing assignments and turning in equipment on time. Late work is completely unacceptable, and I will not give you feedback on it. If you do not have a major assignment ready in time for our workshop days, it is *your* responsibility to get feedback from your classmates outside of class upon (or before) your return. If you return borrowed equipment late, consider your participation grade in jeopardy. If you fail to return borrowed equipment at all (like, you lose it or break it beyond repair), you are responsible for replacing the equipment with the same kind, and I will hold your final grade submission until it has been replaced.
  • readiness: Readiness is different from timeliness in that it relates specifically to being prepared by the start-time of the class period (and any outside-of-class work that we negotiate to do). All homework must be completed BEFORE class starts. For instance, printing of assignments or uploading of files after the class period has begun will result in a delay of class, which will negatively impact your grade. This bullet also refers to workshop participation and group work participation in that if you do not have a draft ready on workshop day, you are unprepared to provide feedback to your workshop peers, or you are unwilling/unable to perform the responsibilities of your group work, your grade will suffer.
  • thoughtfulness: Thoughtfulness translates to critical awareness and participation in all manners of class activities. This may include activities such as having useful, productive questions or discussion items based on homework (readings, assignments, or peer-review work), collegial work completed with your group mates, or thoughtful work demonstrated in the major assignments themselves. In addition (a note for those of you who like to talk a lot), thoughtfulness means that if you constantly need to share in class, but your sharing is largely off-topic, disruptive, or unhelpful, your participation may be more distracting than useful. I will probably talk to you about this before your grade suffers.

If you have questions AT ANY TIME about your grade potential, please make an appointment with me. If I believe that you are on a trajectory toward a C, D, or F, I will let you know by mid-term. If you’re participating in the basics of the class, then you’re probably passing and should only be concerned with your individual goals for earning a B or A, described in more detail below. Everyone in this class starts with a B/C. How you participate changes that grade higher or lower. Students in previous 239s have earned As (see below), Bs (for mediocre participation in class, usually related to group work), a few Cs (usually related to multiple absences), and Fs (for failure to turn in a large number of assignments or skipping out altogether).

tips for earning an A
The grade of A is reserved for excellent work. Excellent work does not equate with showing up every day, participating once in a while, and turning in completed drafts on time or turning the final portfolio in with the revision basics done. Those are the average requirements of any class setting, and average equates to a C in this academic setting.  Here are some ways to earn an A:

  • Produce excellent assignments. What constitutes excellence?  Doing more than simply completing the terms of the assignment. An excellent assignment may meet any number of qualities, depending on its purpose and genre. We’ll spend much time analyzing possible qualities for your work, which means you’ll be creating evaluation criteria for your own work. If your texts live up to your own criteria, it’s likely your work will be excellent.
  • Participate excellently in class. Excellence in class participation means not simply speaking frequently, but all of the ways I mention in the class participation section above. As some examples, you should contribute in an active and generous way to the work of the class as a whole by asking questions, offering interpretations, politely challenging your classmates, graciously accepting challenges in return, and being a productive group member.
  • Be an excellent citizen-scholar. Specifically, be able to demonstrate to me (through discussions, group work, assignment drafts) that you (a) understand and can reflect on the content of this class and show progress toward that knowledge in your final portfolio; (b) reason logically, critically, creatively, independently and consensually, and are able to address issues in a broad and constantly shifting context; (c) recognize different ways of thinking, creating, expressing, and communicating through a variety of media; (d) understand diversity in value systems and cultures in an interdependent world; and (e) develop a capacity for self-assessment and transferable learning.

actions that will positively affect my evaluation of you as an excellent student

  • having a collegial attitude
  • waiting for me to get settled when I walk into class by holding all questions until I am ready
  • bringing your materials to class every day
  • asking for help well in advance of a deadline
  • accepting responsibility for late or incomplete assignments
  • asking your classmates for missed content if you are absent
  • being attentive in class so that I avoid needless repetition
  • providing me assignments on time and in the medium I ask
  • asking your classmates (or Google) for help during open-lab sessions, then…
  • …if stumped, raising your hand, calling me, and waiting patiently for help
  • using email, appointments, or some other agreed-upon conferencing medium for private or involved questions
  • accepting that I respond to emails quickly, except after 5pm or on weekends
  • understanding that strategic (and sometimes maximum) effort results in excellent work
  • others??