Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Delivery and New Media Workshop

Catrina Mitchum, Cheri Lemieux Spiegel, Wil Laviest, & Mathieu Reynolds

In his preface to Rhetorical Memory and Delivery, John Frederick Reynolds explains that delivery and memory are classical rhetoric’s two “‘problem canons’”(vii). He maintains that although these two are often overlooked, they are certainly important. Today’s workshop will focus on delivery specifically.
James Porter, in his “Recovering Deliver for Digital Rhetoric” traces the history of this neglected canon. Naturally, he begins his history of rhetorical delivery with a look at classical Greek and Roman rhetoric, wherein delivery was characterized primarily as an emphasis upon the role of the voice, body and emotional impact of a speaker. Issues of delivery were equated largely with these matters of decorum throughout the classical times until a shift in treatment was seen in the 15th century, along with the invention of the printing press.
The printing press itself, Porter argues through the lens of Elizabeth Eisenstein’s The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, created a new form of delivery. Regardless of this new, non-oral form of delivery, scholars continued to refer to delivery as a physical concern (with emphasis on voice and body), and, for reasons he doesn’t elaborate upon, discussions began to overlook the role delivery played in addressing the emotional needs of an audience. This truncated view of delivery as related to these physical characteristics caused it to be seen as irrelevant to printed discourse.
However, Porter, Reynolds and others such as Paul Prior et al are now arguing for renewed attention to the canon of delivery. Porter argues for how this canon can be seen as important to contemporary rhetorical study and how the digital age, in particular, makes this allowance. His framework is composed of five components which he names “Body/Identity,” “Distribution/Circulation,” “Access/Accessibility,” “Interaction,” and “Economics” (208). Body/Identity refers to concerns over the representations of one’s self in an online environment; for example, how one’s gestures, might be represented through online correspondence. Distribution/Circulation addresses technical aspects of delivery related to publishing and distributing texts. Access/Accessibility raises questions of how a population might be able to connect to web-based information, while Interaction refers to the engagement between people and information in the digital space. Lastly, Economics accounted for a concern over issues of information policy, such as fair use, copyright and the like.
Paul Prior et al’s “Re-situating and Re-mediating the Canons: A Cultural-Historical Remapping of Rhetorical Activity” the authors suggest that delivery might be “reconceived as mediation” (6). Their use of the term “mediation” is rooted in the theories of Bolter and Grusin, Vygotsky and Latour and allows the canon to account for far more than psychical characteristics of communication.
The authors suggest that the canon of delivery, conceived in this way, might include two major sub-headings: mediation and distribution. Characterized in this way, delivery might be said to prompt the following kinds of questions:
What mediations, what kinds of detours, might delivery of a text involve? Do we write a text to be read silently, read aloud (as a speech), recorded on a DVD, or performed by various groups of actors on a stage? What typeface do we use? What color? Do we deliver the document on paper, on the screen, or in some other medium? If on paper, by mail or by hand? If by hand, do we do it ourselves or do we have someone else do it? Do we synchronize the delivery with some other event? Or perhaps we deliver it by allowing others to find it in another place. Do we need to deliver the text first to an intermediary (editor, publisher, boss) for review to get it out to a public of some size? Or do we want the text to be distributed in encrypted formats to a small select distribution list? Or do we divide up the delivery of the message so that the chances of illicit use are limited? (Prior et al 6-7).
It is in this vein, with these sorts of rhetorical choices in mind, that we believe that delivery (call it mediation if you will) ought to be brought into the composition classroom.

Relevance to the modern Classroom

The writing classroom today is approached from many different ways pedagogically. Some instructors teach and assign strictly alphabetic text, others teach and assign multi-modal texts, and still others teach and assign a combination of the two. Everything from assessment to how writing should be taught is debated in the field. However, despite these debates over the details of how to teach writing, the constant in these classrooms is the computer. Instructors no longer require (in fact will not accept) handwritten assignments. With the computer (and nowadays be default the Internet) and other digital devices as a central part of our writing culture today, writing classrooms have to consider a wider audience than the instructor and fellow students. This expanded audience and new mediums for delivery require us to rethink what delivery entails.
This digital age has opened up the floor for new ways of delivery, and it’s important to teach these new ways in college comp classrooms because students need to be able to use all “available means” and consider what those means will do for the message they are trying to convey. The modern writing classroom goes beyond the classroom in more ways than one. Students are often in rooms with computers, and if they are not, they are still required to use computers to do their work. Computers (and the World Wide Web by default) facilitate these new delivery opportunities by not only allowing students to rethink what a text is, but also by allowing them to participate in the wider culture.
With so many choices, the concepts of access, support and appropriate media become key to communication with new media. We can’t assume that students know how to produce digital communication simply because they’re exposed to it (Brumberger). The way delivery is taught changes when you consider new media simply because it’s not a last minute thought. The delivery has everything to do with the composition itself. Students need to consider who will be able to access their message based on their mode of delivery, what is being added to the message by the mode, how the audience will (and can) take the message (and in some cases the composition itself) to “recompose” (Ridolfo and Devoss) or “remix” it to create a new message.
Sample Applications
The canon of delivery within the context of digital media combines design, style and presentation. It retains the classical definition of delivery, which is about voice, body gestures and movements, while integrating audio, visual, text and screen design in what has been coined “textured literacy” (Yancey 2004).
Podcasting is one of the obvious areas where new/digital media and delivery come together. Document design can evoke mood in terms of, for example, use of color or font styles (O’Donnell 1998). Others are new media’s ability for collaboration (wikis), immediacy (twitter) archiving for future audiences.
The following are potential exercises/assignment in which delivery could be addressed in new media text:
1. Take a passage of existing text and create hyperlinks on words or phrases that you believe are the authors intended points of emphasis. Explain the choices you made. Compare choices with other classmates.
2. Create a passage of text and incorporate hyperlinks on words or phrases for emphasis. Explain the choices you made.
3. Take an existing passage of text and insert video or photos within the appropriate sections of text where the video or photo expresses the content.
4. Create a slide show with video and text that delivers a message.
5. Create a wiki entry of about 200 words and choose a font style that best represents the tone of the delivery. Explain your choice.
6. Create a wiki that will be a collaborative story. Choose font styles that reflect particular characters in the story as their dialogue appears.
7. Reduce a paragraph down to the length of a max 140-character tweet.
8. Listen to a podcast with an accompanying transcript. Highlight the matching points of emphasis in the text, such as with font changes or hyperlinks.
9. Create a podcast of an oral address that is intended to persuade. Provide an accompanying transcript that includes visual points of emphasis, such as hyperlinks, that match the points of emphasis in the audio version.
10. Review a passage of text and add appropriate sound files to words within the passage.
Brumberger, Eva. “Visual Literacy and the Digital Native: An Examination of the Millennial Learner.” Journal of Visual Literacy. 30.1 (2011): 19-46. Web.
Porter, James E. “Recovering Delivery for Digital Rhetoric.” Computers and Composition 29 (2009): 207-224. Print.
Prior, Paul, et al. “Re-situating and Re-mediating the Canons: A Cultural-Historical Remapping of Rhetorical Activity” Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology and Pedagogy. 11.3 (2007). Web.
Reynolds, John Frederick. Rhetorical Memory and Delivery : Classical Concepts for Contemporary Composition and Communication. Hillsdale, NJ: L. Eribaum Associates, 1993. Print.
Ridolfo, Jim and D├ánielle Nicole DeVoss. “Composing for Recomposition: Rhetorical Velocity and Delivery.” Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology and Pedagogy. 13.2 (2009). Web.
Yancey, K. (2004). Using Multiple Technologies to Teach Writing. Educational Leadership, 62(2), 38.