Planning Project 1

When I first read the article, “How to Land Your Kid in Therapy” by Lori Gottlieb from the Atlantic for a class in high school, I knew I wanted to become a psychologist. It was a profession I had thought about before since I like helping people and have always noticed the behaviors of people around me, however Gottlieb’s account of her psychology practice drew me in even more. The article was written so well– even though I was in my teens, did not know what being a parent was like, and did not know how psychologists did what they did, I was able to follow the article and stay engaged.

The article leads the reader through a mystery– why young adults struggle to feel happy and satisfied despite them having what seemed to be a fulfilling childhood and parents that were “…nothing to complain about” (Gottlieb, 2011). This article allowed me to see how complex and unpredictable human psychology is, and I remembered it ever since the first time I read it.

The article begins by introducing the writer, who adds a personal aspect to the reading by using the first person. She continues to include a personal account of her journey to find the hidden reason behind a problem that many of her patients had in common, which causes the reader to feel like they are embarking on the journey with her, gathering evidence and knowledge that will eventually lead to some explanation.

The author poses questions to the reader, which contributes to establishing a connection between writer and reader, something that I hope to achieve in my project. After going through the accounts her patients gave of their comfortable childhoods, Gottlieb questions, “Was it possible these parents had done too much?” (Gottlieb, 2011). She then goes on to explain why she came up with this question, keeping her readers informed and involved. Gottlieb almost involves the reader in her process of exploration, keeping them on their toes to be prepared to make hypotheses based on the gathered evidence with her.

Gottlieb intertwines work from other writers and mental health doctors who have researched the connection between what aspects of life leads to happiness. In doing this, Gottlieb creates a personal narrative that goes even farther and teaches her reader helpful background information that contributes to her story.

Even though her article includes a lot of research about the subject she investigates with psychology, the personal element is still emphasized to her readers. She connects the research back to her own life. This is especially evident in the last paragraph of her article when she says recounts a therapy session with a patient and how she “…nodded like a therapist, and then…answered like a parent” (Gottlieb). This causes the reader to see her as not only a professional in the psychology field, but also a human who has vulnerability just like her patients.

This article represents a piece of writing that I think is both excellently written, and one that I wish to emulate in some ways for Project 1. I wish to emulate its sense of exploration, personal connection with the reader, and honesty that comes through in Gottlieb’s account of her psychology practice and experience as a parent. I want my readers to learn about my story not in an upfront, immediate way. I would like to explore my own story throughout my writing piece just as my readers do. I would like to connect the underlying message of my piece my life as a whole so that my readers can do the same.

 

What Are Multimodal Projects?

The first chapter of Writer/Designer by Kristin Arola, Jennifer Sheppard and Cheryl Ball introduces the concept of “multimodality,” a technique for communicating, that does indeed require one to be a writer and designer. A multimodal text is one which combines multiple forms of communication in order to get a message across. Without the combination of all these elements, the audience would not understand the message in the same way.

For example, think of the commercial about animal cruelty with Sarah McLachlan. This commercial sends an incredibly strong, emotional message– one that makes some television viewers immediately want to change the channel (including me). How does the 2-minute commercial do it? By combining different modes. The song in the background, the images of the suffering dogs, and the content of the narrator’s spoken words about the animal cruelty that is happening all trigger sadness and make your heart ache. This commercial reaches a wide array of viewers through its use of the aural, visual, and linguistic modes.

There are five modes of communication:

  1. The linguistic mode has to do with the language and words used in a text.
  2. The visual mode has to do with what is available for the audience to see, or not see, in a text.
  3. The aural mode involves what the audience can hear in a text.
  4. The spatial mode regards the way a text is laid out.
  5. The gestural mode has to do with the way movements and gestures convey meaning in a text.

(Arola, Kristin L., Jennifer Sheppard, and Cheryl Ball E. “What Are Multimodal Projects?” Writer/designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 1-19. Print.)


I have collected some multimodal texts that I’ve come across in the past couple days.

  • Spoon University Article (http://spoonuniversity.com/lifestyle/14-college-food-fails/)

On my Facebook newsfeed, I saw a link for a Spoon University article. It was titled “14 College Food Fails via Twitter.” The article’s word choice is geared toward an audience of college students who are reading the article casually, for fun and to see if they can relate. The word choice reflects this, because it is straightforward and includes generational words like, “YOLO.” Each picture of a food-fail tweet includes a caption beneath it, which is organized into short sentences that humorously summarize where the college “cook” went wrong. This represents the linguistic mode of the article.

The article also involves the visual mode. There are some images of disgusting meals, or screenshots of the tweets about these disgusting meals. The pictures of the moldy bread, bugs in ice cream, and pizza for breakfast entertain the reader and add a sense of shock.

The spatial mode is evident as well. The article shows the tweets and images in a list format, with each food no-no numbered on the side.

 

  • Video found on Facebook newsfeed (https://www.facebook.com/thisisinsiderdesign/videos/343207226020913/)

This video is another example of a multimodal text. First, the linguistic mode shows the concise captions that run throughout the video of the intricate puzzles. They are short and sweet and give the viewer just the right amount of information.

The video is visual, and shows close-up views of the carefully designed puzzle pieces and a hand putting them into place. This perspective allows the audience to be even more entranced by how each puzzle piece fits so perfectly.

The video is aural, and uses a monotonous soundtrack that provides a steady rhythm so the viewer can concentrate on what is being portrayed in the visuals.

The video also employs the gestural mode through the hand movement that is required to put each puzzle piece into place. The hand is calm, steady, and careful, which contributes to the tone of the “soothing” video.

  • Meme on Instagram
meme from @memes on Instagram
meme from @memes on Instagram

This meme combines the linguistic, visual, and spatial modes. The caption is carefully chosen to summarize the situation that the image represents. Its word choice reflects the effort to cause the meme to be as “relatable” as possible.

The meme is visual in the way that it portrays a single image. This image represents the “not knowing what someone means even after they try to tell you multiple times” situation, and the feelings that come with that situation.

The meme is spatially designed so that the caption and image are completely separate, instead of placing the text on the image itself.


All of these texts come from the current time of technology and social media. I accessed all of them on either Facebook or Instagram. None of these instances of multimodal texts include ALL five modes of communication, however those super-multimodal texts are definitely out there.

The texts that I have included in this post are similar in the sense that they all attempt to make the audience feel at ease. The Spoon University article is there to comfort college kids and give them alternatives to the nasty food they often find themselves eating. The puzzle-making video is captioned as “soothing” on Facebook. And the meme is to simply make people chuckle a little during their day.

These texts are similar but also different. The Spoon University article and the meme are most different from each other I would say. The article is written to spread valuable information that will last, while the meme provides some quick humor. The modes in the article are put together so that they can spread the information in an entertaining yet informative way, while the modes in the meme are geared merely towards entertaining.

Now I can’t help but continue to notice all the modes in the texts around me. Multimodality is effective and everywhere.

How Writing Leads to Thinking: Response

In the article, “How Writing Leads to Thinking,” Lynn Hunt begins by stating straightforward facts about writing like, “writing is stressful” and “writing is time-consuming” (Hunt, 2010). However, she goes on to describe a less straightforward and simple account of the writing process. Hunt refers to writing as unpredictable and complex in the sense that a writer does not have complete control over the words that will come out onto the page. The thoughts that appear in a piece of writing are a continuation of the thoughts before them, and the thoughts before them, and one must encounter each thought before reaching the next.

After reading Hunt’s article, I now understand the minor in writing program as an exploration process through these thoughts that do not even exist yet. Throughout the program, we will constantly be updating our ideas and revising our work with the rise of new thoughts. It seems that new ideas and changes will be encouraged, rather than just settling with the current status of our work. The program will be about releasing any expectations about our writing and allowing the process to occur organically without constant control.

Even though Hunt begins her article with statements that remind the reader of why writing can be extremely daunting, she makes it clear that one can trust the process. This inspires me to set a couple goals for myself in this course and throughout my time in the minor. First, I will allow myself to trust the process even when I am discouraged and do not see, at the moment, where my thoughts are taking me as I am writing. I also want to allow myself to relax and explore ideas as I write instead of deliberately trying to form them.