First-year college students' processes of composing multimodal compositions: Finding wonderment and phantasia



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Today’s college instructors realize that student literacy involves more than just proficient reading and writing skills because literacy now encompasses digital rhetoric. The art of rhetoric is the faculty of observing the available means of persuasion, and today that includes producing and understanding relevant messages through digital rhetoric in college writing. Many of us college educators are still trying to find ways to analyze and facilitate what students are doing when they create multimodal compositions. This study proposes the concept of phantasia as a way to describe the audience’s impressions of a well-developed, creative, and inspirational multimodal composition. Phantasia is derived from Aristotle’s De Anima as a function of imagination that influences an audience’s memory, reasoning, and passions, and it is a motivator of belief, ethics, desire, and discursive power. This research includes collecting and analyzing thirteen students’ written and oral responses to self evaluations about their multimodal composing processes, to help garner more useful information than just teacher-driven evaluations. These responses also help identify students’ functional, critical, and rhetorical literacy levels. Next, by relying on Collin Brooke’s framework of rhetorical canons within ecologies of code, practice, and culture, I coded students’ statements to determine frequency and strength of their ecologies of practice. Students’ literacy levels and coding of ecologies of practices, all drawn from their self evaluations about their processes of multimodal compositions, assisted me in determining what a student writer needs to achieve phantasia for their audience. The strongest impressions of phantasia in students’ multimodal compositions necessitate all of the rhetorical canons within ecologies of code, practice, and culture working together in spatial and timely ways, with kairos; further, a student’s successful multimodal composition reaches out to diverse cultural relationships ranging from interpersonal to global communities through the ecologies of culture. Finally, students’ identification within the larger world of discourse reflects their functional, critical, and rhetorical literacy levels needed to ensure their compositions reflect the feasible and identifiable goal of phantasia, which expresses their most creative and imaginative efforts in digital composing for their college composition classroom today.



Multimodal compositions, Digital rhetoric, Phantasia, Ecologies of practice, Ecologies of code, Ecologies of culture, Functional literacy, Critical literacy, Rhetorical literacy, College student writing