Since its first issue in 1996, Kairos's mission has been to publish "scholarship that examines digital and multimodal composing practices, promoting work that enacts its scholarly argument through rhetorical and innovative uses of media" ("About the Journal," n.d.). And as its mission suggests, Kairos scholars have discussed, produced, and implemented multimodal compositions, either in their own work or in what they ask students to compose in their writing classrooms.
However, a retrospective view of conversations on multimodality in Kairos reveals not a neat, identifiable path backward. Instead, the conversation is best understood as rhizomatic, as multidirectional, nonlinear, and decentered. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1987) metaphorically likened a rhizomatic system to a map, "open and connectable in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification" (p. 12). Scholarship on multimodality, instead of being a hierarchical, linear arboreal system, is a map made up of a series of nodes that can be attached to a main stalk, but are noticeably detachable and able to foster new growth in and of themselves.
The multiple ways Kairos authors have discussed multimodality mirrors their myriad concerns, disciplines, methods, and theories. Thus, this retrospective takes a rhizomatic approach, offering multiple entry points into the many nodes structuring multimodal scholarship in this journal. This review does not and cannot capture the sheer breadth of this conversation in the journal, nor the many ways scholars enact the multimodal principles they espouse, but nodes like multimodal theory and pedagogy hope to paint the larger conversation in broad strokes, while nodes on the corporeal and multilingual turns highlight the diversity and detail of multimodal inquiry. Feel free to explore and travel through this review at your whim and fancy, and I encourage you to take a variety of trips to experience the intricacy and complexity of this map.
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