Multimodal composition and pedagogy

Professor Jamie Skye Bianco

Fall 2009, University of Pittsburgh

Tuesdays, 6-8:50PM, 423 CL

ENGLIT 2504 - 1010

Office Hours, Tuesdays, 4-5, and by appointment

Office Location: 1502a CL (enter through 1501)

Course Schedule
Course Description & Required Materials
Student Websites
Students Home
Spikenlilli Home
Third Year Review

"a multimodal approach to learning requires us to take seriously and attend to the whole range of modes involved in represenatation and communication. ... mode is used to refer to a regularised organised set of resources for meaning-making, including, image, gaze, gesture, movement, music, speech and sound -effect."

Gunther Kress & Carey Jewitt

Multimodal Literacy


Literacies are legion. Each one consists of a set of interdependent social practices that link people, media objects, and strategies for meaning making.

J. L. Lemke

"Metamedia Literacy: Transforming Meanings and Media" from Visual Rhetoric in a Digital World

The Course

What is multimodality?

How is thinking in terms of multimodal composition, rhetoric and literacy different than thinking in terms of new media, digital media, computers and composition, technical writing, and traditional critcal essay writing?

Is the multimodal (mm) inherently digital?

How does the 'writing' instructor become a facilitator for mm composition processes and practices?

given these Different social, material, & medial modes, what differential modes of teaching, learning, & production companion them?

this course will function in three modes:

design & technical studio
we will work hands-on in class to learn software application and different modes of digital composing and compositing

sourcing & research seminar
we will seek out and review contemporary scholarship on multimodal composing, rhetoric, literacy, and pedagogy

composers workshop & critique
we will produce multimodal compositions and offer them to the class for workshopping, review and critique (much in the vein of a creative writing workshop).

this course is a digital studio, research seminar, & creative workshop... multimodal.

Required Materials

Adobe Creative Suite 4 Master Collection
Available to students from CSSD (105 Bellefield Hall) for a seriously discounted price.
This collection provides the entire Adobe CS4 Suite.
There are work-around alternatives including use of the Pitt Campus Computing Labs -or-
purchase of one of the smaller collections
with a) the Photoshop/Premiere Elements package offered by CSSD or b) software already on your computer.

Memory Stick/Portable External Drive
You will need a minimum of 4G of memory, but I recommend at 8G.
This memory key will be used exclusively for this class.

Regular Access to Digital Camera
Camera needs to have the capacity to shoot short video clips.
Cell phones are fine, but may provide lower quality imaging.
Make sure that whatever camera you use (especially if you borrow a videocamera) that you have the software to access the image files and download them to your computer or memory key.

access to a microphone or sound recording instrument
While most have a built-in microphone on their computers, experience has proven that this is not sufficient for different types of recording situations.
cell phones can be used but will produce a tinny quality.
radio shack sells a very cheap clip-on mic that works well (if you purchase any mic, make sure it is compatible with your computer.

ask me about the ear bud trick.