Print Volume 26.4 (December 2009)

Back to Screen Features | View Print Full Text

Recovering Delivery for Digital Rhetoric
— James Porter, Miami University

This article develops a rhetorical theory of delivery for Internet-based communications. Delivery, one of the five key canons of classical rhetoric, is still an important topic for rhetorical analysis and production. However, delivery needs to be re-theorized for the digital age. In Part 1, the article notes the importance of delivery in traditional rhetoric and argues that delivery should be viewed as a form of rhetorical knowledge (techne). Part 2 presents a theoretical framework for “digital delivery” consisting of five key topics—Body/Identity, Distribution/Circulation, Access/Accessibility, Interaction, and Economics—and shows how each of these topics can function strategically and heuristically to guide digital writing.

Contending with Terms: “Multimodal” and “Multimedia” in the Academic and Public Spheres
— Clare Lauer, Arizona State University

Scholars have begun naming and defining terms that describe the multifaceted kinds of composing practices occurring in their classrooms and scholarship. This paper analyzes the terms “multimedia” and “multimodal,” examining how each term has been defined and presenting examples of documents, surveys, web sites and others to show when and how each term is used in both academic and non-academic/industry contexts. This paper shows that rather than the use of these terms being driven by any difference in their definitions, their use is more contingent upon the context and the audience to whom a particular discussion is being directed. While “multimedia” is used more frequently in public/industry contexts, “multimodal” is preferred in the field of composition and rhetoric. This preference for terms can be best explained by understanding the differences in how texts are valued and evaluated in these contexts. “Multimodal” is a term valued by instructors because of its emphasis on design and process, whereas “multimedia” is valued in the public sphere because of its emphasis on the production of a deliverable text. Ultimately, instructors need to continue using both terms in their teaching and scholarship because although “multimodal” is a term that is more theoretically accurate to describe the cognitive and socially situated choices students are making in their compositions, “multimedia” works as a gateway term for instructors and scholars to interface with those outside of academia in familiar and important ways.

Digital Underlife in the Networked Writing Classroom
— Derek Mueller, Eastern Michigan University

This article offers a theoretical framework for ‘digital underlife’: the distal and potentially transgressive discursive activities proliferated by emerging technologies. Digital underlife is an adaptation of sociologist Erving Goffman's concept of underlife, which figured centrally in Robert Brooke's well-known study of writing activity in 1988. As emerging digital technologies fray the communicative bounds of traditional sites for teaching and learning, such as the classroom and the conference hall, we are confronted anew with a complex array of possibilities for giving and getting attention. Drawing on the work of Charles Moran and Richard Lanham, this article calls for a more receptive disposition toward the productive dimensions of digital underlife. The article promotes a stance that imagines productive digital underlife to be intrinsic to curricula that combine digital writing activity and rhetorical education, rather than short-selling digital underlife as mere distraction, as an impediment to learning, or worse, attempting to banish it altogether.

Dream Bloggers Invent the University
— Jason Tougaw, Queens College, CUNY

This essay focuses on the blogs authored by students in interdisciplinary, writing-intensive seminars on the art and science of dreaming at Queens College and Princeton University. The writing for these courses requires students to “invent the university” in the sense that they must find ways to bridge the public and private, or the theoretical and the personal. I argue that blogs have the potential to help students develop strong and distinctive voices in the pursuit of intellectual inquiry—and that because of this, they can help teachers and scholars overcome the intellectual divides between the “expressivist” and “constructivist” pedagogies represented by Peter Elbow and David Bartholomae respectively. In the concluding section, I examine blog entries in which students recount instances in which they dreamed about our course readings (and other materials). These accounts are striking because they offer evidence that students were internalizing and synthesizing course material. To explain this internalization and synthesis, I turn to recent developments in cognitive theory that offer new ways of thinking about learning that I believe will help bridge the expressivist-constructivist divide and develop methods for teaching voice as a rhetorical element of writing, one that is essential to intellectual inquiry.

Hacking Spaces: Place as Interface
— Douglas M. Walls, Scott Schopieray, Dànielle Nicole DeVoss, Michigan State University

In this article, we analyze the complex rationales—both transparent to us and, at times, made visible—underneath the instructional spaces in which we work and teach. To do so, we first situate space analysis in the larger, national conversations about instructional spaces and then through the work of computers and writing scholars. We conclude with an analysis of instructional spaces at our institution. These are spaces specific to our locale, but spaces we think are quite common at most institutions of higher education. Perhaps more importantly, we situate this space analysis on issues these spaces pose—issues of restricted movement, impaired ability to collaborate, sensory disruption, limited leadership ability, and functional/material constraints. We attempt to return to the roots of hacking and to situate hacking as a particular tool for negotiating and, at times, disrupting the assumptions built under, within, and across instructional spaces.

An Empirical Analysis of Using Text-to-Speech Software to Revise First-Year College Students’ Essays
— Kevin Garrison, Angelo State University

Traditionally, composition experts have suggested reading drafts aloud as a means of revising essays; however, the method of reading drafts aloud is severely limited by a single factor: student writers do not always read what is on the page (Hartwell, 1985). Text-to-speech (TTS) software allows students to have their essays read to them so that the limiting factor of reading their own drafts aloud becomes minimized. TTS programs read what is written on the computer screen, and the result is that the students can “hear” the problems of their essays as opposed to simply “seeing” them. Nevertheless, composition researchers have not conducted any empirical studies to determine whether or not TTS is beneficial for “local” and “global” revision, nor have any studies been conducted to determine if TTS is beneficial for students above the fifth grade. This article documents an experimental study conducted at a southwestern university in the United States with fifty-one students to determine whether or not TTS software is useful in the revision process. The results show that users of TTS were as likely as users in the control group to make proofreading changes but less inclined to make local or global changes in the revision process, indicating that TTS possibly works well for proofreading but not necessarily as well for higher-order revision. Further research is recommended to determine TTS's effectiveness during a longitudinal study as well as for auditory learners and ESL students.

Keeping with the currency of the print-based journal, Print to Screen focuses on the themes found in the recent issues of Computers and Composition, and includes multimodal commentaries that explore and remediate relationships between print and screen.

Section Editor — Elizabeth Monske

Print to Screen