e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


remembering composition

The new issue of JAC contains Halbritter and Taylor's video-essay 'Remembering Composition' on DVD. Apparently, copyright issues delayed its release. Cool piece for pushing at the boundaries of what our scholarship in the field of composition studies might look like. The piece makes a case for the role of new media in writing courses. In part, the it's a documentary, with folks in the field talking about their teaching. In part, it's a rock and roll song, written and performed by the "authors" of the piece (plays over the end credits). In part, a collage of voices. In part, a show-and-tell of interesting student work.

The 'talking head' portion of Remembering Composition seems to me to be the weak link. For a piece that pushes and challenges so successfully and provocatively, hearing soundbites--some of which are somewhat basic ('we need to teach writing technologies')--just seemed like business-as-usual. The student work on the other hand, consisting of documentaries made, I think, by students of Todd Taylor, really demonstrated cool possibilities. And the extended commentary from Halbritter (about midway through the film) nicely and reflexively stated how new media work blurs the editor-author role. And elsewhere, several of the voices make the case for more production of rhetoric--as opposed to getting stuck in the analysis/consumption rut. The latter stands out as one of the piece's motiffs/arguments.

I'm surprised nobody's talking about this piece: the blogosphere, the wpa listserv, etc. Maybe the folks who are interested in these issues already knew about the project and its content, and others are somewhat indifferent. Hope that's not the case.


Mike @ Vitia said...

Interesting. One of my military colleagues -- a major, with a graduate degree in rhetoric and composition, and who happily calls herself one of our English department's "compositionistas" -- watched it and had little patience for it. She liked Take 20 a lot, and was really excited about it, but she was watching Remembering Composition this morning and was rather dismissive both of what she characterized as the banality of some of the observations and by what she saw as its somewhat rambling and discursive nature.

Now you've got me curious, and I'll have to take a look.

bdegenaro said...

Yeah I can see the banality critique. Like I said, some of the 'talking head' parts are extremely basic. But structurally, it's got some interesting things happening, too. Worth a look, although, I have to admit, I found myself skipping some of the interview bites.

bonnie lenore kyburz said...

it's only because i let my JAC sub lapse that i don't have the DVD. i was sick to have to miss the live performance. now, you're reminding me to re-up my sub to JAC.

btw, i like "rambling."

and, isn't there a link somewhere, so i can see it now?