Chapter 7: Multimodality and Non-Traditional Texts

7.2 What is Multimodality?

Melanie Gagich

In college writing classes, you often write “traditional” essays. These traditional essays often look the same: paragraphs made up of black, Times New Roman font spaced evenly on a page of white paper. However, in addition to writing, or composing, traditional essays, you might also be asked to compose a multimodal text. A multimodal text is one that “exceed[s] the alphabetic and may include still and moving images, animations, color, words, music and sound” (Takayoshi and Selfe 1). This type of composing practice has been integrated in many First-Year Writing classrooms across the US since the 1990s. Examples of digital multimodal texts (sometimes described as “new media”) include websites, infographics, podcasts, videos while non-digital multimodal texts might take the form of posters, collages, zines, comic books, or graphs. While this is not an exhaustive list, it does demonstrate how common multimodal texts are both inside and outside of the classroom.

For more information about multimodality, please watch the six minute video created by Sean Tingle, a college writing instructor, by clicking the link below:

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