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Summer-Time Multimodal Mondays: Digital Drop-ins for Visual Analysis and Meme Crafting

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Bohannon_Pic.jpgToday’s guest blogger is Jeanne Bohannon (see end of post for bio).

As I wrote in my last post, I have spent time this summer exploring the idea of creating digital drop-in assignments complete with templates and deliverables for readers to edit and use as they want.  I want these assignments to disseminate and grow, with my colleagues making them better as they use and edit them.  This week's digital drop-in is a visual analysis assignment that affords both instructors and students opportunities to create memes and share them with their class community.

Context for Assignment #2: Visual Analysis and Meme Crafting
As we get to know our first-year writers, we can connect with them by participating in the same activities we ask them to do. This assignment uses democratic teaching methods and multimodal options to give students opportunities to showcase their thoughts on trending cultural issues and share them with their coursemates. A good place to start with memes is Vice Media's History of Memes article.  Also check out Linda K. Börzsei's article in New Media Magazine for your own background. Free meme creators for instructors and students: imgur Meme Creator; Meme Generator; and lots of apps for phones from iTunes and Google Play.

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Measurable Learning Objectives for the Assignment

  • Apply visual analysis criteria to memes
  • Analyze memes as visual texts
  • Reflect on self-choice in one's own composing
  • Create digital texts for a specific audience and invention heuristics

Background Reading for Students and Instructors
Acts of reading and viewing visual texts are ongoing processes for attaining learning goals in dialogic, digital writing assignments. Below, I have listed a few foundational texts. You will no doubt have your own to enrich this list.

Digital Deliverables for Classroom Use

In-Class/Out-of-Class Work

Bohannon_Multimodal Mondays_7_05_16_Pic2.jpgAfter reading about the history of memes and visual rhetorics in their handbooks, students choose a meme for visual analysis. Then, working in teams or groups, students help each other find meaning, critique design, and evaluate timeliness of topics in their memes.  Use Elements for Visual Analysis.  To scaffold learning, students can then also use the Meme Criteria Checklist to formatively evaluate themselves and their classmates on their understanding of memes. Finally, students create their own memes, in a culminating assignment that demonstrates their synthesis of the genre.

An adaptive feature of this assignment is that it provides students with their choice of Bohannon_Multimodal Mondays_7_05_16_Pic3.jpgtopic within the meme genre and can be modified for each instructor's rhetorical focus.  Some instructors have used the theme "Re/Meme-ber This," which consider popular culture trends from specific time periods overlaid with students' assignment feedback responses.  The examples I have included here are from that theme. This assignment also lends itself to digital, democratic learning, because students choose their methods of composition, reflect on their process, and have the opportunity to present their work to their peers. 

My Reflection
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I think that this spin on class introductions reaches out to student-writers to give them voice and choice in their own compositions. The Meme Visual Analysis Assignment counts for me in terms of multimodal composition because it provides a digital artifact of students' rhetorical reflections on their own invention and affords them opportunities to use their digital texts to connect with their classmates. Please try this assignment and let me know what you think!

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Jeanne Law Bohannon is an Assistant Professor of English in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Kennesaw State University. She believes in creating democratic learning spaces, where students become stakeholders in their own rhetorical growth though authentic engagement in class communities. Her research interests include evaluating digital literacies and critical engagement pedagogies; performing feminist rhetorical recoveries; and growing informed and empowered student scholars. Reach Jeanne at: jeanne_bohannon@kennesaw.edu and www.rhetoricmatters.org

1 Comment
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Thanks so much for this.  It absolutely addresses, or could if properly executed, critical thinking demands of digital media, and the link to Gardner's "Introduction to Memes" helped as well.  I definitely want to try this out.

About the Author
Andrea A. Lunsford is the former director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University and teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English. A past chair of CCCC, she has won the major publication awards in both the CCCC and MLA. For Bedford/St. Martin's, she is the author of The St. Martin's Handbook, The Everyday Writer and EasyWriter; The Presence of Others and Everything's an Argument with John Ruszkiewicz; and Everything's an Argument with Readings with John Ruszkiewicz and Keith Walters. She has never met a student she didn’t like—and she is excited about the possibilities for writers in the “literacy revolution” brought about by today’s technology. In addition to Andrea’s regular blog posts inspired by her teaching, reading, and traveling, her “Multimodal Mondays” posts offer ideas for introducing low-stakes multimodal assignments to the composition classroom.