A student's avatar navigates a virtual world and communicates the desires, emotions, and fears of its creator. Yet, how can her writing instructor interpret this form of meaningmaking? Today, multiple modes of communication and information technology are challenging pedagogies in composition and across the disciplines. Writing instructors grapple with incorporating new forms into their curriculums and relating them to established literary practices. Administrators confront the application of new technologies to the restructuring of courses and the classroom itself. Multimodal Literacies and Emerging Genres examines the possibilities, challenges, and realities of mutimodal composition as an effective means of communication. The chapters view the ways that writing instructors and their students are exploring the spaces where communication occurs, while also asking 'what else is possible.' The genres of film, audio, photography, graphics, speeches, storyboards, PowerPoint presentations, virtual environments, written works, and others are investigated to discern both their capabilities and limitations. The contributors highlight the responsibility of instructors to guide students in the consideration of their audience and ethical responsibility, while also maintaining the ability to 'speak well.' Additionally, they focus on the need for programmatic changes and a shift in institutional philosophy to close a possible 'digital divide' and remain relevant in digital and global economies. Embracing and advancing multimodal communication is essential to both higher education and students. The contributors therefore call for the examination of how writing programs, faculty, and administrators are responding to change, and how the many purposes writing serves can effectively converge within composition curricula.
Tracey Bowen is a lecturer at the Institute of Communication, Culture and Information Technology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She is coeditor of Cultural Production in Virtual and Imagined Worlds. Carl Whithaus is a professor and director of the writing program at the University of California, Davis. He is the author of Writing Across Distances and Disciplines: Research and Pedagogy in Distributed Learning and Teaching and Evaluating Writing in the Age of Computers and High-Stakes Testing.