Sorapure, “Between Modes”

Sorapure, Madeleine. “Between Modes: Assessing Student New Media” Kairos 10.2

Sorapure offers a language that teachers and students can use to evaluate and assess projects that involve the composing with multiple modes. She offers, first, different approaches some have drawn upon to assess this kind of work. As she writes, such critical discussions of assessment is important because “when we grade students’ work we are assessing their success in achieving goals that we value and that, ideally, are made explicit to our students. Howe we evaluate and grade student work is—or should be—connected to everything else in the course” (2). In other words, assessments are often connected explicitly to the curriculum and, more widely, what we value on the whole.

As such, we can see consequences of using frameworks of one medium—print—in order to assess digital, multimodal projects. Yancey warns that such a process of assessment occludes “the chance to see new values emerging in the new media” (1). Likewise, others have suggested that we may be able to borrow language from other disciplines—such as graphic design. However, the consequence of this approach may draw upon guidelines or principles decontextual from their disciplinary context—or rather, without considering our own disciplines perspectives on new media production.

Sorapure takes as her central organizing question that ways in which composers work between modes in order to construct meaning. She points to two ways this can be accomplish: metaphor and metonym. Metaphor refers to relations of substitution: substituting one element in one mode with another element in another mode. For example, the use of puppeteering may be a substitute for the meaning ‘control.’ Metonymy refers to relations of combination: juxtaposing two elements in two different modes in order to highlight the meaning created through their relation. For example, placing George W. Bush in front of the smoke from the Twin Towers on 9/11 represents their potential tie. Succinctly, Sorapure writes that “metaphor exploits similarity and substitution, while metonymy exploits contiguity and association” (5-6). Likewise, metaphor refers to a selection while metonymy refers to a juxtaposition.

However, Sorapure recognizes that some writers often places objects in juxtaposition to one another to denote a metonymic relationship, but may not necessarily be clear what their association is denoting without some kind of guiding metaphor to guide the narrative.

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