Remediating the metalanguage of multiliteracy in alphacentric discourse: A genre analysis of instructional materials in regional first-year composition programs



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



For over two and a half decades now, Scholars such as Cynthia Selfe (1988), The New London Group (1996), Stuart Selber (2004), and many others referenced in this dissertation, advocated for multiliteracy curricula while also creating a new metalanguage to prescribe pedagogy. Even as mounting scholarship continues to suggest a new exigence for multiliteracy pedagogies, it still seems many First-Year Composition programs (FYC) have yet to create a more comprehensive multimodal curriculum. Complete integration has yet to occur, I argue, because alphacentric composition discourse (AC) and multimodal/multiliteracy discourse (MM) are too distinct as genres. Genres, by definition, are relatively stable discourse communities in which members have a consensus of goals disseminated through specific mechanisms that offer information and feedback via specific lexical significations (Swales, 1990, p. 24-27). AC discourse has distinctive lexical signifiers, and FYC administrators and instructors continue to rely on traditional alphacentric composition scholarship (post-process, social epistemics, etc.), and the lexical variation between the distinct signifiers of AC and MM can be located via FYC mechanisms of dissemination (syllabi, assignment sheets and rubrics, and professional development materials), and as this study’s results
suggest, there are two distinct discourse communities each prescribing genre specific significations (such as ‘project’ vs, ‘essay’). While there are shared signifiers between AC and MM, this metalanguage variation may create a constraint inhibiting adoption of an MM pedagogy in FYC. As digital technologies evolve, FYC programs are tasked with disseminating MM resources for instructors; therefore, this imperative suggests scholarship should propose a more integrated metalanguage for FYC that includes features from both discourse communities based in shared signifiers, a kind of Rosetta Stone for remediating the metalanguages of MM and AC discourse.



Multiliteracy, Multimodality, First-Year Composition, Discourse, Metalanguage, Genre Analysis