My 2010 Conference on College Composition and Communication presentation is entitled, “Revealing Meaning, Broadcasting History: Notes on the Composition of Oral History Video.” I am pleased to be presenting on the panel, “Images, Rhetoric, and the Construction of Meaning” with friends and colleagues, Christa Teston and Billie Hara.
Here is the abstract as submitted:
In her 2004 CCCC Chair’s address, Yancey observed that “literacy today is in the midst of a tectonic shift.” Indeed, writing is no longer just about using a keyboard to put words on a screen, nor is it about using a pen to put words on paper. Writing, in our highly mediated, highly visual culture, is the mashing-up of images (still and moving), words, and music (Bezemer and Kress, 2008; Elbow, 2007; Haas, 2008). This literacy consists of being able to understand the complex, evasive relationships among texts and images—and how those relationships impact and are impacted by contemporary cultures. Witte (1992) argued for the importance of understanding how meaning is made using nonlinguistic sign systems, especially if we as a field are to construct a “comprehensive or a culturally viable understanding of ‘writing’ or ‘text.’” Toward that end, this panel will discuss the ways in which visual texts afford meaning making in multiple modes of communication in and out of the classroom: digital photography (Speaker 1), oral history video (Speaker 2), and medical images (Speaker 3).
Speaker 2 explores how visual literacy is both complicated and enhanced when the composition metaphor is applied to the processes and electronic spaces used to create texts in an emerging video genre: the oral history video. By using established methodologies for obtaining, transcribing, and archiving interviews (Anderson and Jack, 1991), oral histories provide important alternate perspectives on historical events (Ritchie, 2003). Frisch (2006) suggests that video has been underutilized in oral history, that there are “worlds of meaning that lie beyond words…in context and setting, in gesture, in tone.” Speaker 2 discusses an assignment in which upper-level writing students adapted traditional oral history research methodologies and composition processes (pre-writing, drafting, editing, cutting, pasting, and so forth) to compose oral history videos. Using only the affordable Flip Video camera, free editing software, and YouTube, the video oral histories became powerful primary documents that challenged students to rethink what it means to write in our visual culture. They also suggest how popular, low-tech media can be use to construct meaningful, multimodal texts that reveal voices on important social issues that might never have been recorded, preserved, and broadcast to a world eager to watch, listen, learn about what others think and do.
I created a Prezi to accompany the presentation. The 5 minutes lead into the 10 minute video, “Selections from Three Student Oral History Videos.” Five minutes was dedicated to discussion of the video and what was learned from/in the course. That is, the bulk of the Prezi was designed to be summarized in the on-site presentation with the hopes that people would follow-up and see it online.
As always, comments and questions are more than welcome.