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BWe Special Issue

Multimodal Composing:

Opportunities and Challenges

in Basic Writing Contexts

Double Issue 10.1/11.1


Barbara Gleason, Guest Editor

Lynn Reid, Associate Editor, Production

Wynne Ferdinand, Assistant Editor

Introduction: Multimodal Composition and Basic Writing


Barbara Gleason

Social justice and multimodal writing for basic composition, really? A Post-Process Framework

Hannah Ashley

This is a multimodal composition created in Prezi. Click here to navigate to the Prezi.

Contending that all writing is paralogical, Ashley argues that multimodal writing allows students to identify, interrogate and participate in multiple discourses. Through exploration of Heard’s “Post Process Framework,” Ashley finds that an instructor’s role in fostering students’ success with multimodal projects is to move them towards critical interpretative moments and establish community-to- classroom connections.

Remembering Basic Composition: The Emergence of Multimodality in Basic Writing Studies


Thomas Henry, Joshua Hilst, and Regina Clemens Fox

Henry, Hilst and Fox argue for expanding basic writing to include multimodal communications and digital literacies alongside print-based literacies. After defining key terms related to multimodal composition, the authors describe teaching and learning strategies related to visual and oral/aural communication modalities.

The First Digital Native Writing Instructors and the Future Multimodal Composition Classroom

Claire Lutkewitte


Lutkewitte acknowledges that digital natives read and write differently than people whose literacy practices primarily involve printed materials. After describing these differences, the author explores implications for future digital native writing instructors as both teachers and scholars. As they put their digital literacies into practice in academia, digital native writing instructors will challenge 20th century modes of writing instruction and notions of authorship to foster the 21st century literacies developing in and outside of the academy.

Understanding Modal Affordances: Student Perceptions of Potentials and Limitations in Multimodal Compositions

Kara Poe Alexander, Beth Powell, and Sonya C. Green


Alexander, Powell and Green explore ways in which traditional, nontraditional, and basic writing students view the affordances (potentials and limitations) of multimodal composition. These potentials include layering, implicit persuasion, audience awareness, creativity, and affective appeals, and the limitation of a lack of a clear thesis. In conclusion, the authors offer pedagogical considerations for instructors who assign multimodal composition in their classrooms.

Teaching Style in Basic Writing through Remediating Photo Essays

Ben Lauren and Rich Rice


Basic writing students' photo essays demonstrate that the multimodal composition process affords opportunities to participate in engaging conversations about writing. The authors argue that the incorporation of multimodal assignments in the basic writing classroom promotes both digital and print literacies while fostering awareness of students' own writing processes.

Video Unbound: Have You Vlogged Lately? Infusing Video Technology in the Composition Classroom

Lillian Spina-Caza and Paul Booth


Booth and Spina-Caza argue that because video is so widely used as a communication tool, it should be incorporated into the composition classroom. Guidelines for teaching and writing with video are presented along with suggested resources for basic writing instructors.

Meshing Digital and Academic Identities in Basic Writing Classrooms

Christopher Leary


Leary describes an anthologizing assignment that involves collecting and arranging thematically related texts. Students also compose introductions for a complete class-generated publication. The author concludes that this form of “macrocomposition” allows basic writers to participate in discourse about the components of good writing and helps them assert social and literary agency normally reserved for published writers.

Synesthetic White Noise: Translating, Transforming, and Transmitting Affect/Text

Dan Wuebben


Wuebben describes a multimodal writing project that he used in an adult oriented college literature course in New York City. Students were asked to read and interpret several novels, including White Noise by Don DeLillo--the focus of this essay. Moving out of the classroom and into their lower Manhattan Wall Street neighborhood, adult undergraduates experiemented with YouTube, hand-held video cameras, and cell phone recordings to depict scenes similar to those in White Noise. Wuebben concludes that students benefitted from participating in the project: it enhanced their interest in the novel, introduced non-traditional forms of literary interpretation, and challenged students to experiment with video recording as an approach to interpreting literature.

Welcome e-Burdens: New Media Projects in the Basic Writing Classroom

Ethna Dempsey Lay


Lay examines the role of multimodal composition in influencing basic writers’ perspective on writing and fostering their agency in and facility with composing. The author concludes that opportunities for multimodality in the basic writing classroom help students to both challenge traditional forms they may mistrust, articulate an individual understanding of composing as a process and successfully complete assignments in a variety of rhetorical modes.

The Word on Hope and Dread: Multimodal Composition and Developmental Writing

Rachael Shapiro

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Shapiro describes challenges instructors confront when designing multimodal basic writing coursework while commenting on benefits afforded to students. Drawing on her teaching experiences in basic writing and Upward Bound classes, she offers sample assignments and provides a framework for creating curricula based on multimodal, academic and home literacies.

Book Review: Shimmering Literacies

Justin March


Book Review: ix:visualizingcomposition

Kuhio Walters