Multiple Multimodals

Looking for multimodal projects is like looking for a straw in Starbucks…they are always there, you just have to dig around until you realize they have been in front of you the whole time. I spent a few days noting multimodal projects and it has definitely helped me brainstorm some experiments I can do for my writing assignment. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me explain. I’ve been tasked with picking some old pieces of writing and recreating them in a multimodal way. Multimodal means using not just words but linguistic, gestural, aural, visual, and spatial features as well. Hopefully this makes some sense, but even if it doesn’t yet we’re going to look at some examples of multimodal projects.

Example one was happened upon at the bright and early hour of 8:30am on Thursday. My statistics 250 lecture could have been a professor reading off her notes in a monotone voice, but instead my professor utilized just about every kind of mode possible. There was a PowerPoint, checking off writing as well as visual. However, this was not a boring PowerPoint but instead one that involved auditory cues, lots of linguistic tools, and because of the way she pranced around the auditorium, I’d say spatial too. Overall, she took some boring content and made it pretty easy to follow and pay attention to. Success.

Example two happened during a class later that day. I may or may not have been going through Instagram and came across a post with a story. It was a picture of a girl and her friend who had passed away, and the caption was short and simple “Two years too long without you. #suicideprevention #mentalhealth #gethelp #itgetsbetter.” This post used visual and linguistic to tell a story and to tell why it was an important story. The picture helped to bring the story closer to home.

Another multimodal text I realized was the jumbotron at the football game this weekend. It tells a story about a football game through sounds, videos, numbers, and words. Not only does it tell a story, but it tells it to 108,000 people.

Aside from these, I read poems for my Spanish class, I interpreted graphs and charts for Statistics, I read stories and articles and textbooks. The patterns I saw across almost all of these things were the use of words, but also pairing words with another element. This just shows how important it is to tell your story as uniquely as you can to make it really pop.

I now need to take a piece of my own writing and make it unique like these other pieces. Noticing these different methods has given me knew ideas. Like twisting an essay into a more fictional story or making a research piece into a fun social media post. I also want to consider a movie or documentary that manages to represent my writing. The most valuable lesson I took form this exercise is that “writing” oftentimes encompasses a lot more than just actual writing. It signals anything that explains, teaches, and tells a story is doing what writing does. I’m excited to see what my classmates and I come up with!

2 thoughts to “Multiple Multimodals”

  1. These are all really great examples of multimodal texts! I think we both had a similar lecture experience, noticing that class lectures are, by nature, multimodal and incorporate many types of communication modes to improve learning retention. Your observation about the use of hashtags in social media is interesting, too. Not only are hashtags linguistic, but I believe they can also be described as visual: the visual cue of the “#” lets the viewer know that the post is connected to multiple subjects, and that they can discover similar content. In other words, hashtags involve social media posts in a larger conversation.

  2. What I loved was how you showed how ephemeral modes last in our minds. For instance, the jumbotron at the football game you saw last weekend is embedded in your brain as this highly vivid memory because of all the modes you simultaneously experienced at that moment. If we were to connect this to something more pertinent for a student, think about how you study a textbook. How likely are you to remember content from a textbook only containing words (linguistic) versus one that also is coupled with photographs and cartoons (visuals) and supplemented with an online interactive ebook (aural) narrated by an engaging, enthusiastic character (gestural); maybe the fact that you read the textbook in a cramped and humid library (spatial) helped you extend that memory into answering an exam question. The boiling pot of modes that occurred during that game paints a very concrete memory for you.

    I am also really curious to learn more about your Spanish poems and how multimodality interacts with that form of text as a foreign language. Let’s apply our textbook studying example here: you studied the Spanish translation for the word ‘blue,’ which you remembered because your textbook showed several images of blue objects (visual) and your teacher would uniformly (spatial) write the Spanish translation on the board as she read it aloud to the class (aural). So, when you interpret that word, do you then ‘see’ this text more as a non-linguistic mode because of all the associations with the other modes? This touches upon implied modes that I briefly explored in my blog post about multimodality, which intrigues me.

    Thanks for sharing!

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