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


Necessity for New Theory:

At present, the composition classroom is not an accurate representation of a public sphere, but “a performance to be accessed by a teacher” (108). Sheridan, Ridolfo, and Michel argue that students in traditional composition classrooms are not getting the true experience of kairotic inventiveness, which ultimately prevents public rhetors from producing culture. The authors imagine a different approach in which the students possess control of their projects and truly practice confronting the kairotic struggles at all stages of the composition process – from the decision of a medium to considering the possible implications, both negative and positive, of rhetorical velocity. In the pedagogy they speak to, students are invited to actively participate, collaborate, and reflect on their rhetorical decisions to create a composition appropriate for the rhetorical exigency.  Sheridan, Ridolfo, and Michel argue that students who are required to take writing classes, and are required in those classes to only respond to those exigencies with writing, “will learn to see responses other than writing as marginalized, irrelevant, and/or off-limits” (118).  If students gain an understanding that they are producers of culture in the classroom, they will find that a natural fit throughout their lives.