One thing that must be addressed when considering Generaciones Narratives is the mode of the text. Because of its e-text format, this examination of literacy practices on the border allows for images and video to be embedded. These affordances allow for a richer, fuller understanding of literate activity in two main ways: through aural and visual modalities. Cindy Selfe’s 2009 article, The Movement of Air, The Breath of Meaning can help us begin to understand the importance of including multimodalities to help illustrate narratives:
My goal is that they [educators] respect and encourage students to deploy multiple modalities in skillful ways – written, aural, and visual – and that they model respect for and understanding of the various roles each modality can play in human expression, the formation of the individual and group identity and meaning making. (p. 626)
In that same piece she notes the affordances of aural modalities, “…speech conveys a great deal of meaning through pace, volume, rhythm, emphasis and tone of voice as well as through the words themselves” (p. 633). The video narratives in this text allow for the reader to gain experience and understand these narratives in new ways because of these semiotic elements. Additionally, the visual components of the videos as well as imagery provide a depth of meaning that compliments the text in new ways. As Kristie Fleckenstein (2002) observes in the book, Language and Image in the Reading-Writing Classroom, “imagery carries with it the power to structure our worlds and position ourselves within those worlds” (p. 19). This is an important concept to grasp when considering the text – image, especially the video image allows us to understand these stories and position them within the boundaries of our own experiences, so that we might be better for hearing and seeing them. Through image, we gain a richer sense of a narrative because we see environment, body language, gestures, and facial expressions.
The implications of exploring and publishing e-texts such as Generaciones Narratives that allow these semiotic affordances to be utilized alongside alphabetic text are far-reaching. However as scholars and researchers we do need to remember that will never be able to fully convey meaning, as the New London Groups notes, “…no one expressive modality, including print, was capable of carrying the full range of meaning in a text, and pointed out that the texts sign makers created both shaped and were shaped by the universe of semiotic resources they accessed” (as cited in Selfe, 2009, p. 638).
This text allows us to challenge ourselves to think about what this quote means in terms of the times we live in – we can begin to ask ourselves questions such as, what are the semiotic affordances we have? Moreover, how can we use them best meet our rhetorical needs as researchers and teachers?