A Practical Guide for Teachers of Composition and Communication
by Carol David and Anne R. Richards 

Reviewed by Claire Lutkewitte, Nova Southeastern University



There are few examples from this collection of essays that have sparked my interest.  Particularly, I feel that the following have made me, more so than the others, reflect on my own classroom practices in a positive way. 

Although I have seen similar assignments in other writing pedagogy texts, the assignment described by L. J. Nicoletti in Chapter 3, the memorial design project, is one that I feel has great potential for those who have or who have not implemented visual rhetoric instruction in a writing classroom.  The idea of rereading visual spaces, in particular those that have been designed to memorialize events in history, is an interesting concept in that it calls into questions those voices that have gone unheard.  I feel this assignment would work to encourage students to consider marginalized voices.  It would also mean asking students to be active in rewriting historic places and creating new ones.  Practically speaking, I think such an assignment would work nicely in an upper level writing classroom; however, it could be modified for lower level writing classrooms as well.

Like many of the other assignments in Writing the Visual, Worthington and Rard's documentary film analysis assignment in Chapter 4 can be adapted to suit the goals of many other courses, including composition courses.  While they describe their assignment in the context of a first-year writing course, it could certainly work for a course which not only asks students to rhetorically analyze a documentary film, but also asks students to compose their own documentary film.  For instance, in a digital rhetoric class, this particularly assignment could be used as a beginning point from which other assignments, such as a documentary film design assignment could build upon.

Asking students to think more critically about race and racism seems to be a central theme in many of the chapters in this book, particularly because race and racism is often portrayed unquestionably in images.  "Race moves," King writes in Chapter 5.  "It moves people."  And, often it moves people by way of images.  In my own classroom, I usually assign students a project that involves analyzing visual arguments.  Sometimes, students examine images that further racial stereotypes and we discuss our readings of these images in class.  But, I've recognized that to get them to achieve a deeper understanding of race and racism is often difficult, especially because sometimes students feel uncomfortable.  King's approach to teaching a racial metaphors module, one that progresses through a series of exercises, might help to ease some of the tension by students might feel.

Finally, Wei's discussion of the differences between the construction of ethos in Western and Chinese cultures in Chapter 8 made me want to rethink my approach to teaching ethos in the writing classroom.  I appreciate Wei's comparison between Classical Chinese rhetoric and what he calls bamboo hypertext.  Classical Chinese rhetoric and bamboo hypertext, as Wei clarifies, are similar because both are "nonlinear, open ended, collective, multi-accentual, interactive, and networked" (p. 151).  The point in making this comparison is to further delineate why Chinese rhetoric differs from Western rhetoric.  Too often, as a writing instructor, I have instructed my students to analyze texts by way of asking them to think of ethos in terms of how the individual created a sense of credibility or authority within the text.  In doing so, however, I failed to ask students to think about ethos in terms of constructing it in view of the collective.  Wei's sample assignment serves as an example of a cross-cultural approach in comparing how Western and Chinese cultures create ethos differently online and could easily be managed in a writing classroom.