Review of Toward a Composition Made Whole by Jody Shipka

Reviewed by Brandy Dieterle, University of Central Florida

link to summary pagelink to introduction pagelink to Rethinking Composition and Processlink to Partners in Actionlink to Framework for ActionLink to Making Things Fitlink to Negotiating Differencelink to ConclusionLink to References

Chapter 2: Partners in action: On mind, materiality, and mediation

Shipka's process narrative documented how she collaborated with two other panel presenters for a conference in 2009. This process narrative was completed in comic form and further illustrated Shipka's view of multimodality.

Jody Shipka (2011) used theories of mind, action, and mediation to propose a framework for examining composing processes. Essentially, composition teachers and scholars ought to examine final texts in relation to the processes in which they were produced. In order to help readers look at the various "representational systems and technologies with which composers work and to examine the role that perceptions, purposes, motives, institutions, as well as other people and activities play in the production, reception, circulation, and valuation of that work" (p. 40), Shipka developed a mediated action framework, based on the work of James Wertsch (1998). Shipka argued that we should not focus on "the individual, society, or even the tools one employs while engaging in a specific goal-oriented activity" (p. 42). To encourage such an alternate focus, Shipka formulated four points in the mediated action framework: multiple purposes, agency of mediational means, historical context, and participants in action.

This framework is the foundation of Shipka's redefinition of composition and composing processes. It recognizes composition as a much more complex process that involves a whole range of tools not necessarily used consciously in the writing process, such as the use of my laptop keyboard to type this text. When considering student texts produced in composition classrooms, this framework can further bridge the gap between what students are producing inside and outside of school by helping students to view assignments as something that goes beyond the classroom. Adopting this framework can help teachers demonstrate to their students that the texts produced serve a purpose beyond earning a grade.

link to previous pageLink to next page