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 1: Rethinking composition/rethinking process

Continuing her expansion of the term "new media," Jody Shipka (2011) argued for the importance of sight, sound, scent, and movement when humans communicate ideas to one another, aspects often overlooked in discussions of the writing classroom. This chapter is particularly relevant to writing classrooms that frequently meet face to face, because in this space both students and teachers can assess and analyze the way people dress, their body language, their tone of voice, and so on. For Shipka, a composition made whole acknowledges that

whether or not a particular classroom or group of students are wired, students may still be afforded opportunities to consider how they are continually positioned in ways that require them to read, respond to, align with—in short, to negotiate—a streaming interplay of words, images, sounds, scents, and movements. (p. 21)

However, she pointed out that adopting this understanding of literacy and learning posed a challenge for teachers needing to find ways to attend to communicative practices more fully. Shipka addressed this challenge by calling for an expanded definition of composition and by refocusing on composing processes. Although Shipka provided examples of how she better attended to communicative practices, readers will need to determine for themselves how her approach can be adapted to other universities and their local curricula.

Overall, this chapter served as a literature review to further orient Shipka's readers to the discussions in composition studies, past and present, beyond what were described in the introduction. Although Shipka's audience would likely be people already practicing in the field of composition studies, she used the chapter to support her own argument for a redefined understanding of composition and composing processes. In her introduction, Shipka demonstrated that people questioned the writing projects her students have done because they didn't see them as writing; this chapter is a clear attempt to speak to such an audience and provide thorough support for what she has proposed in the book as a whole.

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