New Work of Composing

Eds. Debra Journet, Cheryl Ball, and Ryan Trauman.  Utah State University Press/ Computers and Composition Digital Press, 2012.

ISBN: 978-0-87421-888-6

The increasing prevalence of digital technologies challenges the ways in which texts are produced and read. As a result of this increase, the future of the written text has been subject to much debate as some scholars argue for its imminent demise while others welcome the opportunity to play with text. While most of this debate has taken place between the printed pages of academic journals and books, there are several prominent born-digital journals (Kairos) and e-books (Patrick W. Berry, Gail E. Hawisher, and Cynthia L. Selfe's collaborative text Transnationational Literate Lives in Digital Times, Susan Delagrange's Technologies of Wonder, and others published by the Computers and Composition Digital Press), scholars are still learning how to integrate multimodal technologies into research. The New Work of Composing (Computers and Composition Digital Press, 2012) is a bold attempt to accept the challenge issued by these new technologies in order to determine how the "traditional" academic text can make use of the opportunities presented by multimodal composition.

The editors, Debra Journet, Cheryl E. Ball, and Ryan Trauman, preface the entire collection by asking the reader to consider major questions: what is a book, what does a book do, and what should a book do? They emphasize the dynamic intertextuality and nonlinear arguments available in digital collections. Therefore the "reader" is able to take a more active role in the construction of the text and the experience of exploring it.

As part of the nonlinear textual model, The New Work of Composing can be explored in multiple ways according to the reader's preference. The table of contents can be viewed as a scattered arrangement of the essays, allowing the reader to choose her own path through the collection. There is also a stacked table of contents, which divides the collection into thematic categories with many articles collected in the following themes: New Authors and Authority, New Strategies for Composing and Production, New Scholarly Genres, and New Spaces and Ecologies. Ultimately the thematic questions raised in The New Work of Composing are explored in theory and practice via the production of the texts.