To most people, the act of composing is almost synonymous with writing exclusively. We place a strong emphasis on the written word and habitually use it to provide instructions, narrate stories and communicate ideas. In her article, Cynthia Selfe advocates for the need to look beyond the conventional use of alphabets in order to explore other methods of compostion and how such diversity can better our understanding of expression as a whole. With what she coined as 'multimodality', Selfe uses aural elements (speech, music, sound) to demonstrate how ideas can be equally, if not more effective in conveying one's ideas. Speficially, she examines the use of aurality by looking at examples in which sound, voice and music were used in the creation of a narrative, a poem, a reflection and an essay respectively.
Key Concepts Edit
1. The author is not arguing for aurality against written words. Instead, she strongly encourages composers to develop an 'increasingly thoughtful understanding of a whole range of modalities and semiotic resoures'... and the expertise with 'all available means of persuasion and expression'... to transcend beyond 'geopolitical, cultural and linguistic borders'.
2. Selfe attributes our over-dependency on words to our historical and cultural settings. She noted the written word has been employed as the more 'formal' way of communication throughout the course of history. And when the alpjhabetic system was adopted by schools as the primary means of instruction, students become pre-occupied with the notion that written texts are for the well-educated and intellectual. Our ability to express is hence 'subsumed' by the over-dependence on the written word.
3. Employing aural elements does not necessarily diminish the effectiveness of say, a written composition. Selfe's point is that sound and words each bring out a different aspect of a compositional piece, which can be unusually enlightening at times. Similarly, other modes of expression, such as the use of visuality, each has their strengths in communicative tasks and should be utilized depending on the desired effect and outcome.
Examples (aural): Edit
1. Sonya Borton's audio essay, "Legacy of Music."
2. The American Life that contains little stories being told via podcasts and interviews
Examples (visual): Edit
1. Photo Essay - Life at the Center of America
Critical Conversation Edit
To date, this article has been cited 80 times according to Google Scholar. The majority of arguments that this text is integrated into deal with multilingual and multimodal frameworks. For example, Steven Fraiberg states in his article Composition 2.0: Toward a Multilingual and Multimodal Framework, "...tracing multimodal-multilingual literacy practices across official and unofficial spaces is key to moving composition into the twenty-first century." Generally speaking, Selfe's article is cited by many other articles similar to Fraiberg's.
Selfe, Cynthia L., The Movement of Air, the Breath of Meaning: Aurality and Multimodal Composing, College Composition and Communication, Vol. 60, No. 4 (JUNE 2009), pp. 616-663