Here’s where we’ll discuss Claire Lauer’s “Contending with Terms: ‘Multimodal’ and ‘Multimedia’ in Academic and Public Spheres.” I think it’s pretty straight-forward, but a couple of thoughts for now:
- “Multimodal” is definitely a term that has caught on in the realm of pedagogy of the field as of late– at least that’s what it looks like to me with some of the titles of articles I’ve seen in the last couple of years. In any event, one of the key differences I think is it would appear to me that “multimodal” would include writing done not necessarily with computers (for example, collages and the like), while multimedia seems to imply digital technology much in the way described by Manovich.
- I like the distinction Lauer makes between “mulitmodal design, multimedia production” in the sense that it aligns with the pedagogical sensibility of the field (“writing is a process”) and the realities of products in the marketplace. It’s also useful in thinking about the rhetorical importance of “design” preceding and being simultaneous with production.
- This terminology– especially the slippery word “media”– actually has a lot more implications than you might think at first blush. The writing faculty are proposing a permanent version of this class which we’re going to call “Writing Digital Media.” We talked about that title a long time. “Multimodal” is a good term, but like Lauer suggests, it has the connotations of pedagogy and we were concerned that employers looking at student transcripts might not get that. There was some resistance to the word “multimedia” because we were worried that it was kind of dated in an odd way, sort of the way that a courses like “Writing for the World Wide Web” or “Computers and Writing” sound a little dated. We definitely wanted “Writing” in there because it is a writing course, albeit one that potentially broadens the definition of writing. “Media” is an especially slippery term because there are whole departments that kind of feel like it’s theirs (We have the Department of Communication Media and Theater Arts) and there are other courses that use the term too– social media, Creative Writing is going to have a course called “New Media,” etc. Perhaps more than you wanted to know, but all I’m getting at is there really is a lot in a name in all kinds of surprising ways.