Teaching Multiwriting: Research and Composing with Multiple Genres, Media, Disciplines, and Cultures, by Robert L. Davis and Mark F. Shadle, proposes that research, persuasive, and essay writing are each discursive practices, which can be understood through analogies to both travel and blues music. At the heart of these analogies is the idea that compositions, travel, and blues rely on combinations of voices, locations, and instruments to create a final product. These analogies come together to propose a needed change to the teaching of writing through alternative compositions that incorporate many genres, media, and disciplines. The authors assert that rather than traditional academic prose, alternative compositions may be more beneficial for students.
Building on the scholarship of Geoffrey Sirc, Tom Roman, Winston Weathers, Michael Blitz and C. Mark Hurlbert, and others, Teaching Multiwriting continues the conversations on alternative composition practices in five chapters. Each chapter concludes with pedagogical materials for applications. From sample assignments to discussion prompts and additional reading lists to film suggestions, the conclusion of each chapter acts to functionally put in to place Davis and Shadle’s proposal. These additions contribute elements of theory and practice to the book so as not only to call for change, but also to make it possible through various mediums.
The discussions that take place throughout the book add a call for those in rhetoric and composition to reimagine the writing classroom as a space for discovery on the part of students and instructors. Furthermore, the book sets a precedent for expanding our understanding of multimodal texts from traditionally digital to multiple medias by incorporating various disciplines and cultures with traditional and nontraditional texts (including essays, poetry, reflection, and more) and presenting those texts in new, often tactile, ways, for example message-in-a-bottle projects and suitcases as a means to house and showcase written texts. Davis and Shadle’s approach forces us to view multimodal writing outside of the digital realm and consider modes of composing and presenting in a new way. Teaching Multiwriting offers a new take on writing project design and encourages teachers of writing to explore issues of delivery and presentation.