Multimodal process creates multimodal product

My 621 presentation-making journey

So it’s likely you are wondering what these three images have in common. They all represent the creative process that I have gone through today as I have been working on my final project for 621. As I have been developing ideas for my presentation, each of these has some connection to the process of meaning making that has occurred through the creation of what will ultimately be a multimodal text (my presentation).

The first image is a diagram of the New London Group’s “Modes of Meaning.” I have found myself using multiple design elements as I have been working through the literature and connecting it to my technology. The second is a photo of my work space where I’m working with multiple examples, and various remediations, of texts: handwriting, digital texts, phone technology, and print texts. Finally, the third is a photo of my dog who has served as a sounding board for me today as I have talked through some of my ideas verbally, and other times silently, on our walks this morning.

“A Sequence of Stages”

In discussing past global research on the creative process in visual art, writing, music, and science, Emig notes that “many students of creativity as well as creators across modes” (17) have proffered a view of the creative process as a sequence of stages”

(Palmeri 27).

Today, I have truly experienced this “sequence of stages.” As of yet, I have nothing like a finished product for my 621 project, but I have taken my thoughts through various stages, texts, and modalities. Before sitting down to the computer today, I began by visualizing in my mind The Smithsonian’s Learning Lab, the technology/text that I plan to use for my project. By using this metaphorical “visual text” to think about the direction to take my final project, I was able to generate ideas for the sequence of my presentation.

I then sat down at the computer and used digital word processing to copy and paste quotations from the digital texts that we have been reading to help ground my ideas into a coherent thought. Through this process, I enjoyed the affordances of digital word processing that allowed me to copy and paste, rearrange, and reorganize ideas from various scholars. This reminded me of Palmeri’s quoting of Berthoff from our readings this week:

“Operations involved in perception”

(Let me read you what Rudolph Arhheim, in his superb book Visual Thinking, lists as the operations involved in perception:  active exploration, selection, grasping of essentials, simplification, abstraction, analysis and synthesis, completion, correction, comparison, problem-solving, as well as combing, separating, putting in context.”

(Berthoff qtd. In Palmeri 38)

I would take breaks from this process of cutting and pasting, arranging and rearranging to take my dachshund, Greta, for short walks. During these “breaks,” the process continued in such a way that I began to visualize what I wanted my final project to look like and what digital tools I will need to make that happen. (I’m thinking Google Slides, iMovie, and Flash Player. My phone might come in handy as well.) Palmeri references Forming in the quote below which closely parallels my creative process on those little walks:

“Compose with visual images”

As we look at the world and compose visual images in our minds, we are constantly making meaning by selecting, arranging, and classifying—participating in an ultimately social process in which we construe what we see in relation to what we have seen in the past and what we expect to see in a given context (Forming 32)”

(Palmeri 39).

As I am going through the process of creating a multimodal text (which ultimately will consist of video text, digital alphabetic text, audio, and more), I am reminded of Palmeri’s overall claim that multimodality is not just about the final product but about the process as well. Through visualization, handwriting, digital word processing, manipulation of digital images and audio, I will be using a multimodal process to create a multimodal product.

“Making meaning with images, sounds and movement”

Berthoff asserts that composition students and teachers might best be able to understand writing as an imaginative process by studying the work of visual and performing artists who make (or form) meaning with images, sounds, movements, and tactile objects”

(Palmeri 39).

Much of this leads me back to our humament projects (and even the act of typing this blog.) The very process itself contributes to meaning making because thoughts and ideas are generated through the very act of manipulating various texts.

For example, when I was working on my humanent text, I wasn’t really sure where to begin. As I started working with the various materials, ideas and thoughts were generated in the process of creating the physical piece.

And so it has been with creating my 621 presentation as well. I’m sure by the time I post it on Monday, it will have evolved into something different than my original conception through the process of creative manipulation of multimodal texts.

Works Cited

New London Group. “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures.” Harvard Educational Review. vol 66, issue 1, 1996, pp. 60-92. 

Palmeri, Jason. “Composition Has Always Already Been Multimodal.” Remixing Composition: A History of Multimodal Writing Pedagogy. Southern Illinois University Press, 2012, pp. 21-50. 

Published by amhudak

a life-long learner trying something new

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  1. I love that you accounted for the non-human (but canine and fabulous) actor who is part of your process! When I wrote my dissertation, I also trained for a marathon. What?!? The physical activity and changes that occurred during long runs actually functioned to really help me work out major parts of chapters. It was amazing, an essential part of my multimodal process as well.


    1. Yay, marathons! I love running… so therapeutic. I ran Marine Corps and Richmond last year. I’m taking a break from it this fall, but I love those long runs, too.


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