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Writing New Media: Theory and Applications for Expanding the Teaching of Composition


Utah State University Press
Logan, Utah 2004
267 pgs.


Elizabeth A. Monske
Louisiana Tech University

This year at 4Cs this year in Chicago, with the theme of "Composition in Center Spaces: Building Community, Culture, Coalitions," we will be able to attend sessions on blogging, engaging student interest, and increasing visual literacy through hypertexts creation and reading. But are these the only way to think of new media? This was what I thought before reading Writing New Media.

  • Anne Wysocki (Opening new media to writing & The sticky embrace of beauty)
  • Johndan Johnson-Eilola (The database and the essay)
  • Cynthia L. Selfe (Students who teach us & Toward new media texts)
  • Geoffrey Sirc (Box-logic)

    explore new media, their meaning and origination, but more importantly their effects on students and their environment. These authors focus on the pedagogical in this new media expression provides those formally under the impression it only existed in the digital sense, and possibly disenfranchised by the lack of technology at their schools or their own technological literacies, with ways of incorporating new media into their composition classrooms. Their activities are grounded in theory and proved through actual practice in their classrooms, ranging from freshman to graduate student audiences and from pen/paper to web site design.

Each of the arguments presented in this collection invokes the need for the reader to explore their own literacies and engaging with their students. In "Students who teach us," Cindy Selfe grounds her discussion of literacies in a case study of a student, who was able to use his exploration and expansion of his technological literacies to find his way into a technologically rich career even though he was not able to navigate successfully through academia. She argues that teachers of composition need to use new media "systematically in their classrooms to teach about new literacies" and learn how they can "help us understand how such texts are changing our understanding of what it means to be literate in the twenty-first century and help us understand our own role in relation to change" (44). Geoffrey Sirc even explains our new role as curators in a museum. He states, "As curators in academia, we can exploit the possibilities of our status, exposing students to a range of culturally valid forms as well as non-mainstream content; in so doing, we provide our audience with a host of possibilities for worlds and forms to inhabit" (126-127).

Writing New Media is not simply a text for those that have a technological literacy strong in hardware, software, and the like or those that come from research institutions with large amounts of money for technology. It is for those that want an "opening" and would like further "directions of thought and theoretic groundings that spark how you work" (Wysocki preface).