Friday, April 21, 2006

Kress' Concept of Design

I've been reading a lot about Kress' concept of "design" that he wants to replace our current form of "analysis," which he sees as too passive. He wants students to cease "using" semiotic systems and to start “re-making" and reconfiguring "content-in-discourse" which is he believes will lead to more human agency and transformation.” I really like this theory, but it seems that it has some limitations for those of us working in the current composition classroom. For example, the composition classroom generally still have minimum word requirements, so the mode of writing will still need to carry much of the load of rhetorical persuasion, to a large extent. So, instead of like Kress, deciding on what writing "does best" at this point, we should emphasize the fluidity of possibility of communication between the modes instead of relegating certain types of functions to words categorically; composition instructors should emphasize the shifting rhetorical strategies that can be delivered in the forms of both words and images, and also emphasize that the re-shaping of content into many modes as possible. Does anybody think this is a realistic revision of Kress' proposal?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Thoughts on Kress' "Gains and Losses"

One of the questions that I’m considering as a driving of my research is: How does Visual Rhetoric affect the process of composition, that is, the composing of both traditional and new media texts?
I want to think about Gunther Kress’s arguments about the epistemology of new media versus strictly speech/writing media as it relates to my research question.

In the article “Gains and Losses” (this was Paul’s reading, unfortunately I missed that day…) Kress asserts that there are crucial differences in the way that we process text versus the way that we process images. First, speech uses the materiality of sound and time; Writing uses sequence and authorship to make meaning while the “logic of space works differently … all elements are simultaneously present . . . Though the viewer traverses the image elements in time.” It is arrangement that gives meaning in spatial logic.

I’m really not quite sure about all of these distinctions. For instance, I’m not so sure about his analysis of the “book” as being quite so linear and I’m also not sure about his assertion that images are somehow more “present” and full of meaning any more than words are. Kress does not that we can not think about anything that there is not a “word” for, so I’m not quite sure how he can maintain the distinction between text and image as steadfastly as he does… But then again, who am I to disagree with Gunther Kress? I see how websites are multi-modal and have multiple points of entry, but I’m not so sure that the (current) way that I process books is so different from the way that I navigate a website. To me, once I have finished a book, it becomes a sort of blob of associated images in my brain and does not STAY the linear way in which it was presented. I also am a heavy user of indexes which provide multiple points of entry or re-entry to a text. But I totally agree that a multi-modal practice is necessary in the composition classroom in order to best equip our students to be “critically literate.”

So, back to my question: how does this affect the composition process? It seems that the tradition of grammar and organization can be understood in terms of spatial logic as well. To decide what is salient, whether the medium is a narrative or a painting is what is important and I think that essentially the same skills are invoked or can be invoked whether it is using a spatial logic or a sequence logic. We have to understand sequence in order to form our own sequence of associations, whether it is image or text. It is just another way of looking at the construction of meaning, which is one of our goals in composition. Does any of this make any sense? I’m not sure if I’m articulating very well what I’m trying to say!!!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Exam Over...

It is finished!! Thank god!! It went relatively well, but I did kind of screw up some dumb genres in one question, but hopefully the committee will be merciful with me. And of course now I'm thinking of all the things I coulda done...
UGH Oh well, i'm very glad its over!!!
Thanks for all your support during this very stressful time!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Wysocki's "awaywithwords"

Anne Wysocki does it again. I found this article called "awaywithwords" that challenges the dichotomy between print and electronic media and asks teacher to re-think the "natural" assumptions about black and white print. She reminds us that even the separation between words has not always been a function of written texts in the West. The notion of a word separated by white space around it accompanied a shift from the social reading of texts to silent and individual reading. Wysocki reminds me that we can not separate the form of texts, or images or anything from a spatial logic. Wysocki makes the connection to visual literacy when she says that we can also not consider an "image" as commensensical as we might have "word." She says that by "focusing on human shaping of material" (She even reminds us that water was used to break up riots in the civil rights movement) we might be in better positions to ask about the consequences of how we use ink, paper, pixels to "shape the actions" of ourselves and others.

I think that this article will be useful in developping a frame of reference as to WHY I am researching visual rhetoric and its connections to tradition print rhetoric. I will also use the Wysocki article in our "New Media" text to speak about the logic of "common sense."