Beyond Modality

Rethinking Transmedia Composition through a Queer/Trans Digital Rhetoric

Authored by: William P. Banks

The Routledge Handbook of Digital Writing and Rhetoric

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138671362
eBook ISBN: 9781315518497
Adobe ISBN:


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Much like the commonplace that we live in a “more visual culture” than ever before, it’s common to hear that writing is increasingly multimediated and multimodal, especially in the fields that engage young writers, such as writing studies and education. In fact, scholars in multiple disciplines have recognized for some time that all composing practices engage with multiple modalities. Rhetoricians who have studied compositional shifts across time (Baron; Bolter and Grusin; Connors, Composition; Crowley; Faigley; Hawisher and Selfe; Manovich; Palmeri; Welch) recognize that each moment has often involved a somewhat narrow focus on a particular technology (e.g., stylus, pencil, computer) and the medium of the composition (e.g., clay, paper, screen). While history also provides multiple examples of non-traditional composition spaces, spaces that have involved the mixing, layering, and remixing of various media such as the Baroque wunderkammer or Cornell’s boxes, scholars recognize that these sorts of compositional experiments have tended to be viewed less for their rhetorical or compositional practices than for their aesthetic or artistic qualities (Delagrange; Janangelo; Munster). More recently, however, scholars have asked us to reconsider not only the materialities of rhetoric and writing, but also the spaces and practices in which we compose (Arola and Wysoki; Alexander and Rhodes; Gries; Shipka). The result has been that scholars have begun to think beyond any singular notion of modality toward more transmediated approaches to both creating and understanding compositions.

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