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Multimodal Composition in a College ESL Class: New Tools, Traditional Norms


Computers and Composition Volume 25, Number 4 ISSN 8755-4615 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


Research has noted that multimodal writing allows for better communication of knowledge and expression of personal identities through various modes of representation. Studies of multimodal composition have tended to examine separate modes, or have looked at connections between only a few selected available modes. Less attention has been devoted to multimodal composition from a holistic perspective. Drawing on the concept of synaesthetic semiosis [Kress, Gunther. (1998). Visual and verbal modes of representation in electronically mediated communication: The potentials of new forms of text. In Ilana Snyder (Ed.), Page to screen: Taking literacy into the electronic era (pp. 53–79). London: Routledge; Kress, Gunther, & Van Leeuwen, Theo. (2006). Reading images: The grammar of visual design (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge], the present study examines how ESL writers in a freshman composition class used available modes in multimodal argumentative essays posted on the World Wide Web. The findings indicate that word-dominated discourse was the primary factor in selecting available modes. Non-linguistic modes were primarily used to illustrate written essays. However, students also used non-linguistic modes to project cultural and national identities and to express emotional connections with their topics. The ways in which the students synthesized multiple meaning-making modes represented the social practices of learning multimodal genres in which they were engaged. The paper concludes with suggestions for pedagogy and research in multimodal composition.


Shin, D.s. & Cimasko, T. Multimodal Composition in a College ESL Class: New Tools, Traditional Norms. Computers and Composition, 25(4), 376-395. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved July 7, 2022 from .

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