This presentation argues that multimedia authoring is epistemic, helping writing students think in new ways about traditional constructs, allowing the "unthinkable" to become "thinkable," in Foucault's sense. The argument will be illustrated by examples from a 1997 seminar in electronic literacies. Told to produce a basic Authorware piece that explored an idea important to them, graduate students in literature and professional communication used multimedia authoring not just to design information but to create, imagine, and synthesize. All but two of the twelve students had no previous experience with multimedia authoring. All said that the freedom to create and fail was key to their efforts. Their pieces were at once intensely personal, symbolic, and informative-and rhetorical. They included a collage that fused music, dance, and poetry; a visually stunning, scientific information guide and argument for preserving the salmon-spawning waterways of the Northwest; a visual jeremiad against smoking; a multimedia defense of the codex book; and two distinctive metaphors for teaching first-year composition classes (alluding to flying pigs and Virginia Woolf), played out in the narrative space of multimedia. I conclude with implications for teaching multimedia authoring as an open-ended activity of rhetorical moment, rich with theoretical possibilities.
Presenter: Susan Hilligoss
Target Audience: Intermediate