Ok kids. As I briefly mentioned before, I'm teaching English 225, Academic Argumentation this year at the University of Michigan. I'm attempting to win over my English Department Writing Program as we speak and get them to let me teach 225 as "Multimedia Writing" next term, where we would read, discuss, and compose in multiple modes of expression and using diverse media tools. My rationale for teaching a "writing" course in this way:
1. "Writing" in the 21st century isn't just writing anymore. It's composition. (I could go on and on here, but for now, I will leave it at that.)
2. Students who are composing today must be allowed to make the most effective and appropriate rhetorical choices when constructing a text based on context, audience, and purpose--this often requires the use of more than just print writing.
3. Dare I say it--students will find composing in multiple modes and media more applicable to their future coursework and career-work than producing only written essays.
4. Composing in multiple modes and with various media fosters the development of real-life "rhetorical sensitivity," which is the point of teaching writing anyway. Students will be able to approach any writing situation, assess their context, audience, and available tools, and craft an effective product.
Soooooooooo...the director of our writing program responded to my request via email today, telling me that our English writing courses have a general guideline of requiring students to produce 30-40 pages of polished prose, and that "we need to ensure that there remains a substantive amount of writing in the more traditional sense of the term."
I responded to this email by asking for a meeting with the director to discuss my reasons for asking students to compose in multiple media and for NOT requiring them to produce 30-40 pages of written work when they are composing work just as complex using other media.
My plea: help me sharpen and develop an argument to bring to my meeting later this week that will persuade the director (a lover of print composition to the very core, to be sure) that a Multimedia Writing course has a place in the department!