Speakers’ Series: “Communication in the 21st Century”

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tod.jpgOn October 22, Clemson hosted Dr. Todd Taylor, Professor of English and Writing Program Administrator at UNC-Chapel Hill, and co-author of The Columbia Guide to Online Style and co-editor of Publishing in Rhetoric and Composition, Literacy Theory in the Age of the Internet. Dr. Taylor had prepared a movie presentation, “Making Movies: Metamedia for Communication Across the Curriculum,” combining his own speech, the testimonials and interviews of scholars and students, as well as professional and amateur movie clips. Early in the presentation, he stated that his goal wasn’t to replace writing assignments with movie making, but to improve undergraduate writing by integrating movie production across the curriculum. He then further explored movie-making as a genre that can exist in multiple disciplines as creative works, narratives, and displays of research and field experiences.

During a movie clip featuring Roberto Benigni (over which Dr. Taylor laid hilarious WAC-themed subtitles), we are posed to wonder if film, the mother of digital composition and this generation’s favorite form of metamedia, will be the end of traditional composition. Taylor says no, that film requires scripting, screenplays, storyboarding, and allows students to better perceive what their audience will see and experience. By thinking ahead to how the audience will react to their movie, students have a better handle on writing for their audience and thinking about the whole experience of their creation. Not only does movie-making not replace writing, it necessitates more writing and facilitates the development of better writing skills.

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Beginning with the traditional annotated bibliography as the foundation and progressing to the storyboard to the script to the soundtrack, the students’ writing must be strong in order for their visual and auditory arguments to be valid and effective. Dr. Taylor argues that with the emergence and evolution of technology, the goals of teaching have changed, and coursework must be adapted to fit this growth and progress. In an era where multiple senses are engaged concurrently during acts of communication, movies can be seen as products of the teaching of multiple literacies across curricula. We can incorporate concepts from various disciplines and portray them through various media in order to create a richer experience for a wider, more open-minded audience. According to Dr. Taylor, we should think outside the box and beyond the traditional essay, giving students opportunities to utilize other multi-dimensional means of conveying information, thus strengthening them as critical thinkers and writers.

~ Art Young

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