Davis & Yancey, “Notes toward the Role of Materiality in Composing”

Davis, Matt, and Kathleen Yancey. “Notes Toward the Role of Materiality in Composing, Reviewing, and Assessing Multimodal Texts.” Computers and Composition 31.1 (2014): 13-28.

Looking at electronic and physical portfolios—in contexts within school contexts and not—Davis & Yancey consider the modality of touch as it functions in multimodal composing and assessment. Throughout, given each contexts, they provide a perspective on assessment that exists outside the function of scoring or grading. Namely, “we focused on what was important in what we read—as do composers in collecting, selecting, and excluding in creating these texts—and from that we, like they, learned. Perhaps that—learning—is the most important gift that an assessment of multimodal text can provide” (27). In Yancey’s examples (a digital and then physical portfolio of materials about the San Francisco earthquake and a physical portfolio of Japanese Internment camps), she confronts the idea of touch as a meaning-making modality; in particular, she defines touch as another form of participation. As she writes, “all reading is participatory—as readers, we construct our own readings—but this reading process is physically participatory; without touch, I could not read” (17). Further, she evokes arrangement as an important component of touch and participation: readers arrange the material to make meaning that this reflects the reader themselves as well as the composer.

Davis’ examples, student portfolios from WEPO, used their portfolios also demonstrate a means to provide material for multiple kinds of readings from a reader. As Davis writes, providing such material for many layers of interpretation allows readers to “[trace] the connections they make across multiple sites of literacy” (27).


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