The Available Means of Persuasion: Mapping A Theory and Pedagogy of Multimodal Public Rhetoric
by David M. Sheridan, Jim Ridolfo, and Anthony J. Michel

Book Review by Rachel Dortin, the University of Findlay


Ethical Concerns

While there are many conceivable benefits to a truly multimodal public rhetoric, there are also ethical implications to consider. The author’s provide an example of a trial in which an audio interview was juxtaposed with photographs of a crime scene; this amounted to a confession to the jury, but in reality, it was simply fabricated by the prosecution (123). Through this example, we see the ethical concerns of multimodality surface. The message can be misconstrued, whether intentionally or not, by the medium. Sheridan, Ridolfo, and Michel also explore the ethics of rhetorical recomposition, such as remixing media produced by others. They argue that integrating these ethical concerns into the pedagogy will in turn reflect a more ethical use of multimodal rhetoric.

Through critiquing cases of multimodal manipulation which demonstrate either of these ethical concerns in the classrooms, students will build a framework with which to assess “the ethical dimensions of their multimodal compositions” (142).  The authors explain that critique allows students to grasp the vocabulary of these ethical concerns, as well as to craft their own heuristic by which to explore ethicality in their own works and multimodal rhetoric in general.