Submitted by Susan DeRosa and Stephen Ferruci, Associate Professors of English Eastern CT State University
Susan DeRosa and Stephen Ferruci are Associate Professors of English at Eastern Connecticut State University. They co-authored the textbook, Choices Writers Make: A Guide (Pearson, 2011), and they have collaborated lately on scholarly articles and conference papers on multimodal writing in the writing center and writing classroom. Their research laid the groundwork for the creation of Eastern’s Writing Center in 2008.
Title: Multimodal Writing in the Writing Center: Relationships, Roles, and Responsibilities
Students are increasingly composing and designing multimodal texts that combine sound, visual, performative, and textual components. Takayoshi and Selfe (2007) argue that students need to be versed in both critically reading and producing multimodal texts “if they hope to communicate successfully within the digital communication networks that characterize workplaces, schools, civic life, and span traditional cultural, national, and geopolitical borders” (3). As writers produce multimodal texts to respond to different rhetorical situations and assignments, writing centers need to find ways to work with students and the texts they design. While writing centers may have experience helping writers who include visual elements in their texts, (photos, graphs, charts, etc.), they may be less familiar with other modes with which writers choose to compose. Recent scholarship suggests a focus on these changing roles and the relationships between writing centers and writing classrooms as we engage with multimodal composers and their choices.
This kind of literacy, or what the New London Group (1996) calls multiliteracy, composing that integrates multimodal forms of expression and representation, affects the work of the writing center. Sheridan and Inman (2010) contend that “Multiliteracy centers should be spaces equal to the diversity of semiotic options composers have in the 21st century” (6; emphasis in original). And recently, a special issue of Computers and Composition, “Pedagogies of Multimodality and the Future of Multiliteracy Centers” (September 2016) introduces scholarship that asks us to consider the reciprocal relationships among writers’ multimodal classroom experiences, multiliteracies, and writing centers.
Such scholarship on multimodal composing and writing centers leads us to ask: How is the work of writing centers and multiliteracy centers changing given students’ use of multiple modes in their academic and personal writing? For example, how might we assist a student who brings a sound essay to a tutorial session—are we prepared to talk about the rhetorical possibilities of sound and to offer feedback? Can we help students who design and compose an explainer video think more critically about how visual modes work? Would we (or should we) need to know how to work with or have access to various production technologies, such as Adobe Premiere, Audacity, or iMovie, for example?
We invite papers that examine how the increasingly multimodal nature of composing texts affects writing center identities and our relationships with and responsibilities to the writers, tutors, faculty, and others we work with every day.
Consider some of the following questions about multimodality and writing centers, and feel free to explore the issue(s) in other related directions as well that align with your work and interests. While you think about particular ways multimodal composing has affected your writing center, please extend your ideas so they are applicable in a broader context for writing centers in general.
- How are writing centers responding to the changes in the ways students write and create texts? What are our professional concerns? What new possibilities, new ways of imagining our work are emerging? What concerns? What new possibilities?
- Historically, how have writing centers responded to the use of new composing technologies, such as word processors or online search engines?
- Does the increased use of multimodal texts change the way we think about writing center identities? (e.g. Multiliteracy Centers? Writing/Design Labs?)
- How are writing centers’ missions or cultures being affected by writers’ increased use of multimodal composing strategies?
- How do we negotiate our roles as tutors and our experience with or knowledge of multimodal texts and technologies? To what extent will we have to become conversant in the technologies of multimodal composition?
- What kind of tutor training is necessary as we tutor writers who compose multimodal texts (aural, visual, performative, etc.)?
- What might writing center staff need to know about fair use and copyright laws?
- What technological knowledge is expected (or should be) of the writing center staff by students and faculty? What professional expectations do we have of ourselves?
- How does an increase in multimodal composing strategies affect the writing center’s resources—financial, technological, spatial, human?
- How do shifts to centers that support multimodal composing address issues of disability?
- How might we partner with other sites on campus to support multimodal writing? What collaborative possibilities does the shift towards multimodal composition offer us?
We invite proposals of no more than 500 words for this special issue on “Multimodality in the Writing Center.” Accepted articles should be in MLA format (8th edition) and no more than 3,000 words, including notes and works cited. We also welcome proposals for the “Tutors’ Column” (accepted articles 1500 words, including works cited and notes, in MLA format).
- Send article proposals (300-500 words) to Susan DeRosa and Steve Ferruci firstname.lastname@example.org and FerruciS@easternct.edu by March 1, 2017.
- Invitations to submit full articles will be issued by April 15, 2017.
- Manuscripts will be due July 15, 2017.
The New London Group. “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures.” Harvard Educational Review, vol. 66, no. 1, 1996, pp. 60–93. doi:10.17763/haer.66.1.17370n67v22j160u.
Sheridan, David M., “Introduction: Writing Centers and the Multimodal Turn.”
Multiliteracy Centers: Writing Center Work, New Media, and Multimodal Rhetoric, edited by David M. Sheridan and James A. Inman, Hampton Press, 2010, pp. 1-16.
Takayoshi, Pamela and Selfe, Cynthia L. “Chapter 1: “Thinking about Multimodality.” Multimodal Composition: Resources for Teachers, edited by Gail E. Hawisher and Cynthia Selfe, Hampton Press, 2007, pp. 1-12.