Engaging Multiliteracies, Engaging Communities: The Digital Rhetoric Collaborative
This roundtable conversation seeks to explore the ways that digital academic publishers may enact and make spaces for the digital rhetorics they study. A space like the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative, operated through the Sweetland Center for Writing, explicitly confronts the divide between academic publishing and changing forms of communication, bringing to the fore concerns about how academics negotiate the space between traditional print epistemologies and forms of new media. In this roundtable, we will explore our experience developing and incorporating new literacies into our community, considering ways to galvanize our audience and enact the literacies that we promote.
This roundtable conversation seeks to explore the ways that digital academic publishers and writers may enact and make spaces for the digital rhetorics they study. Scholarly communities like the University of Michigan’s Sweetland Center for Writing and Kairos work to encourage the production of digital projects, yet digital rhetoric still operates on the fringes of the academic power structure. A space like the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative, operated through the Sweetland Center for Writing, explicitly confronts the divide between academic publishing and changing forms of communication, bringing to the fore concerns about how academics negotiate the space between traditional print epistemologies and forms of new media while simultaneously engaging in academic discourse.
Because communication technology changes rapidly, digital composers are often challenged to re-invent their literacies just to keep up. Yet we wonder about the efficacy of multiplying literacies and pacing literacy with technology. We propose instead literacy as an ongoing process that interacts with communication technology such that literacy can be seen as both responding to and shaping technological innovation. Part of our goal within the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative, then, is to engage literacy as a process as we consider our approaches to an online, scholarly space. The DRC is a place where we can demonstrate what it looks like to engage with new communication technologies, stretch them to their limits, and explore the tensions between print and digital epistemologies.
In recent decades, the composition and rhetoric community has asserted an even greater investment in understanding multiliteracies and multimodality, and as computers and writing scholars, we have an important role to play in modeling how we might engage in those multiliteracies ourselves. As a relatively new space for scholars in the C&W community, the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative confronts these issues consciously and critically, most specifically through explorations of how blogging and Wiki spaces can meet the needs of its broadening community. For example, we’re reinventing the genre of the wiki to make it more useful for our community. Rather than restricting ourselves to primarily alphabetic text-based entries, we’re moving toward a more multimodal space.
In this roundtable, we will explore our experience developing and incorporating new literacies into our digital community, considering ways to galvanize our audience and also enact the literacies that we promote in our classrooms. Accordingly, presenters in this roundtable will highlight the multiple avenues through which the DRC models and engages multiliteracy, including discussions of, for example, our blog carnivals and wiki. Furthermore, these discussions will also serve as invitations for audience members to get involved at the DRC, both at the conference and beyond it. Ultimately, a space like the DRC is only as effective as it is collaborative. Creating new spaces and engaging and imagining multiliteracies requires community involvement, both in terms of making these resources available and useful, and validating their academic worth.
One of the ways digital publishing spaces like the DRC highlights multiliteracy practices is by facilitating conversations that bridge various areas of our discipline. For example, blog carnivals with broad themes like this year’s multimodality/multilingualism conversations encourage a variety of contributors to share their ideas from diverse perspectives and dialogue with the author in a conversation that can bridge time and discipline. While we are certainly seeing an increase in perspectives and approaches represented in digital conversations, we wonder how we could further expand these discussions by showcasing contributions that employ creative uses of media and multimodality, and encouraging participation from the broader computers and writing community.We hope this roundtable is both an opportunity to share the ideas behind our blog's development and invite conversations on how to meet the needs of the Computers and Writing community even better.