On Multimodal Composing


Our videos, in one sense, reflect a plurality of approaches to composing. We shape and are shaped by our spaces in different ways. We acclimate to our composing surfaces in various ways. We do our writing work in different ways.

However, our diverse practices in composing share some commonalities—some threads and themes visible across the videos. These threads and themes merit attention. If we, as composition scholars and instructors, are to continue to pay sound, solid attention to multimodal composing processes, we need lenses—lenses that emerge from composing processes themselves—to understand the ways in which we orient ourselves to writing work in the 21st century.

Below, we present some of these trends and themes, offer brief explanations, and point toward specific examples where the trends are evident. Although we know lists are value-laden despite our intent otherwise, we do not want to present the trends below in a hierarchical or value-laden way; the list of themes is agnostic.

Composing Requires Using Different Mediums, Tools, and Interfaces

Jessica and Layne both move between writing with pen and notebook and writing on the screen.
jessie writing layne writing

Sara moves between physical space and community conversations in dialogues that take place on the screen as she researches her areas of study.

sara writing


Composing Requires Others

Sara's video opens with a shot of a shared/conference-room screen in which one person is typing, but we hear multiple voices composing and contributing.

sara composing

Michael workshops and brainstorms with Dan, and also co-creates his slam poetry as he presents to and performs with his audience.

michael composing


Composing is tied to the human experience of time

Ashanka captions the work she's doing as she composes, which not only includes reading and note-taking, but also texting and gameplay.

ashanka composing

Michelle moves among various spaces while working on projects: home, coffee shops, the gym, etc. In this way, motion and time become part of her composing process.

michelle composing

Caitlin demonstrates the embodied relationship between time and composition through the use of both fast and slow motion in her video.

caitlin composing


Composing happens beyond alphabetic text on the page or screen

Rick composes his work with a 3D printer.

rick composing

Michael composes his work by performing—using his voice and his body to both write and perform his slam poetry.

michael composing

Laura talks about the need to move as an integral part of her composing process.

laura composing


Composing happens with/through bodies

Caitlin's video, focused as it is on crip time and composing with a disabled body, is perhaps the most obvious window into composing happening with/through bodies.

caitlin composing

Amy's baby and his needs physically impact and influence the composing work Amy does.

amy composing

Michelle documents the way in which she arranges her physical space, across actual physical locations.

michelle composing

Sara's video reflects her bicultural and bilingual embodiment as she moves in and out of various spaces, conversations, and contexts, to emerge as a Latina scholar working with and for social justice.

sara composing

Composing revolves around influences, collaborations, and intertextual reciprocities

Jon discusses the influence of fictional works on his process.

jon composing

Amy discusses the notion of going home, with implicit arguments for the value of home, community, and so on.

amy composing

Sara draws on her experiences of shuttling between languages, mediums, and community spaces in order to bridge spaces that are often socially constructed as separate.

sara composing

Khirsten employs black noise as a resource and fund of knowledge as she emerges as a Black woman scholar in her field. The black noise she listens to mirrors elements (cutting, sampling, mixing, blending) of her own process.

khirsten composing

Laura discusses how integral interaction with others (her husband, colleagues, etc.) is to her composing process.

laura composing

What is Visible and What is Not

Our composing and what our processes revealed tell us much about the embodied, connected, always already happening nature of writing. What isn't perhaps as visible here are the ways in which our composing practices rub up against, fit into, or even explode metanarratives of queerness, race, disability, mothering/hood, and more. Both individually and as members of a larger academic community, we are wrestling with these metanarratives and how they shape our practices.


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