Using Film to Teach Rhetoric and Multimodal Literacy
Type of Degreedissertation
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As communication becomes increasingly more visual and multimodal, there have been calls within the field of composition studies to adapt to these changes and better prepare students to be critical consumers of the communication they encounter. Meeting this standard requires both broadening the type of literacy that we seek to instill in our students and developing a practical plan to improve that broadened literacy. In order for this to be accomplished, two things must take place. First, the analytical frameworks that we teach our students as a process for analyzing and producing texts must be revised to be applicable to a broader range of text types. Second, we must come up with concrete ways to begin incorporating other types of texts into our composition courses. This work seeks to meet both of these needs. First, it develops an analytical framework similar to ones that are commonly used in composition but more inclusive of emotional persuasion and related issues, overall designed out of principles from classical and contemporary rhetorical theory. For the second step, it proposes utilizing film in composition alongside word-based texts for the purposes of allowing the analytical framework to be applied to two quite different text types, demonstrating its ability to be adapted to multiple modes of communication. Asking students to analyze multimodal texts along with word-based increases the likelihood of improved multimodal literacy. The partnerships between these two text types can also help students better grasp certain concepts of rhetorical theory. Following the articulation of this revised analytical framework derived from rhetorical theory, this work applies that framework to example films and word-based texts, demonstrating both the framework’s viability and the connections between the ways that different text types use comparable tactics to achieve similar responses in the audience. At its conclusion, this work also provides some suggestions for use of film in the composition class and application of the proposed analytical framework.