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By Cassie Walsh

ENC1136: Multimodal Writing/Digital Literacy (Spring 2021)
Instructor: Brandon Murakami

This course focuses on the topic of “digital literacy” and its relationship to multimodal composition, widely defined. As an alternative to ENC1102 (“Rhetoric and Academic Research”), the second course in UF’s sequence of “First-Year Writing,” students work to compose well-researched, creative, and thoughtful pieces while being attentive to the affordances and constraints of each of the mediums they synthesized. There are three different composition projects, though I provide examples from only one here: the Image/Text assignment. 

Positioned between the “traditional” Digital Technology Research Paper and the Audio/Video assignment, the Image/Text assignment asks students to explore the relationship between alphanumeric text and the static image to compose their own imagetext. This imagetext could take the form of a picturebook, a comic, infographics, or a zine, to name a few. At the same time, students were asked to “translate” academic research and jargon for their target audience—often children or the general public—while employing their knowledge of the elements and principles of visual and graphic design, color theory, and composition theory. 

Last but certainly not least, Cassie Walsh’s picturebook about a boy and his father who meet Ollie, the trash-eating whale, encapsulates Jody Shipka’s concept of a “composition made whole.” Cassie sought to make her project engaging and informative to her intended younger audience by incorporating multiple materials beyond the paper, pen, and crayon she used to craft her picturebook. Ollie eats actual cut-up pieces of plastic bags and PET bottles, while Cassie’s inventive pamphlet near the end of her picturebook uses Styrofoam, carboard, and snippets of newspapers as well as plastic. Not only is the story entertaining and particularly informative, but by engaging her audience in such a tactile manner, she reminds us of the materiality of her composition through our reading experience.

Cassie Walsh is a sophomore at the University of Florida. She is currently majoring in general business administration, but she is also taking classes that will enable her to consider going to occupational therapy school after undergrad.

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