A Review of Sounding Composition

Shannon Kelly

Recent scholarship in writing studies signals a sonic turn, with texts ranging from classroom practices in Soundwriting Pedagogies (Danforth, Stedman, and Faris, 2018), to sound as a quasi-object in Byron Hawk's (2018) Resounding the Rhetorical, to a focus on sound and social change (Butler, 2018; Del Hierro, 2018; Sano-Franchini, 2018). The first rhetoric and composition conference specifically focused on sound and writing also took place in 2018 with the Sound Studies, Rhetoric, and Writing Conference. In the midst of this sonic turn, sound essays, podcasts, and audio remix projects have become more and more commonplace in writing classrooms.

Steph Ceraso's (2018) Sounding Composition: Multimodal Pedagogies for Embodied Listening adds at least two important dimensions to current sonic conversations: (1) her practice of multimodal listening allows for an expansive discussion of accessibility in the writing classroom via sonic rhetorics and a focus on embodied experiences in learning; and, (2) she moves beyond sound-as-text approaches by advocating for composing in sound, which allows for particular affective affordances. These two foci, privileging accessibility and the bodily, affective elements of sound undergird Ceraso's argument for a more expansive multimodal listening pedagogy. While Sounding Composition does not aim to help readers learn audio software or technology, Ceraso's multimodal listening practice and pedagogical suggestions provide specific approaches and resources for evaluating and composing sound.