Inventing/Producing Columbus:
A New Humanities Remix

by Shannon Mondor and Angela Rounsaville


“Inventing/Producing Columbus: A New Humanities Remix” takes up Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT), as developed in Paul Prior et. al (2006) in “Re-situating and Re-mediating the Canons,” by re-presenting key concepts in Prior’s core text using different media and modalities and illustrating our invention processes as we worked to demonstrate those concepts.

When conceiving of how this response video would link new media composing, CHAT, and processes of invention, we set two outcomes:

We also wanted this text to serve as a teaching tool that could offer us—as novice students of new media—an opportunity to immerse ourselves in new technologies while undergoing the epistemological and methodological shifts necessary for composing outside our comfort zone of print, and one that allowed us to integrate through praxis CHAT’s theoretical and methodological approaches as a way for us to better understand their affordances.

Although we would like this piece to elicit response through a viewing not directly mediated by our introductory framing, we also understand that integrating multiple modalities and technologies into academic scholarship as primary vehicles for meaning-making is a new enough approach as to warrant explanation. Therefore, we describe one segment of our video response in detail in order to show how we used Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of the chronotope, incorporated as laminated chronotopes (see Prior & Shipka, 2003) into “Re-situating and Re-mediating the Canons.”

We used a layered approach that combined audio, photography, video-capturing of web screens, and on-line, open-source geo-locating tools. Our video’s most obvious example of the laminated chronotope is the segment titled “Mobility Invents,” in which we show invention and theory that “can be understood as embodied activity-in-the-world, representational worlds, and chronotopes embedded in material and semiotic artifacts” (Prior et. al., 19). Although this segment is presented in a linear and flattened visual lens, it contains embodied, material, and semiotic artifacts, which taken together map one part of how we invented/produced this short film. For example, the photographs that appear and disappear during that segment were taken by Shannon Mondor as Shannon and Angela walked the streets of Columbus, Ohio, and talked through this very project. Those images metonymically connect the viewer with the lived, embodied experiences of the creators. These images were uploaded onto a geo-locating map. We then used SnapzPro to capture one virtual walk through our partially mapped Columbus—in effect, fusing and layering space, technologies, bodies, cultures, and time as suggested by the laminated chronotope concept. Employing online maps brings the representational world to the fore while at the same time highlighting the materiality of the locations. In addition to offering a mapping of chronotopic invention, this segment brings a cacophony of voices into the mix: We recite key terms that frame a remediated canon—production, representation, distribution, reception, and socialization—as defined by Prior. In that way, Prior’s voice, both the hidden and audible voices of those who have informed CHAT, our voices—singularly and together—become intertextually laminated, “as multiple frames or fields [that] co-exist in any situated act” (Prior et al., 2006, p. 18).

In addition to the above assemblages and technologies, we also videotaped buses, downloaded Paul Prior reading his core webtext in order to incorporate his voice, and imported and edited a short YouTube video. Practicing and performing the various techniques and technologies was eye opening. Although we cannot be sure others will agree we met our initial goals, we can with certainty say that learning to write new media for the new humanities has synapse-remapping potential. We composed as collaborative, embodied women wanting to maximize theoretical, methodological, and new media possibilities. We hazard a guess that composing text-born concepts in multimodal ways might reinvigorate some of composition’s most field-defining terms.

Shannon Mondor and Angela Rounsaville are doctoral students at the University of Washington. This response was begun during their attendance at the Digital Media and Composition Institute at The Ohio State University in Columbus, from May 29–June 10 of this year. Shannon and Angela welcome questions or insights regarding this Disputatio.


Prior, Paul, & Shipka, Jody. (2003). Chronotopic lamination: Tracing the contours of literate activity. In Chuck Bazerman & David R. Russell (Eds.), Writing selves, writing societies: Research from activity perspectives. Fort Collins, CO: WAC Clearinghouse and Mind, Culture, and Activity. Retrieved June 25, 2008, from

Prior, Paul, Solberg Janine, Berry, Patrick, Bellwoar, Hannah, Chewning, Bill, Lunsford, Karen, Rohan, Liz, Roozen, Kevin, Sheridan-Rabideau, Mary P., Shipka, Jody, Van Ittersum, Derek, & Walker, Joyce. (2007) Re-situating and re-mediating the canons: A cultural-historial remapping of rhetorical activity. Kairos: Rhetoric, Technology, Pedagogy, 11(3). Retrieved June 25, 2008, from

Miller, Richard E. (Producer/Writer), & Hammond, Paul (Director/Editor). (2008, January 26). The future is now: Presentation to the RU Board of Governors. YouTube. Retrieved July 16, 2008, from

mindlapse. (2007, March 2) Time lapse radish seeds sprouting, top and roots growing. [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved July 16, 2008, from,