Article: Video Essays and Virtual Animals: An Approach to Teaching Multimodal Composition and Digital Literacy in JITP: The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy (July 2018)
Abstract: This article explores the pedagogical goals and student artifacts from a first-year composition course that provides students the opportunity to analyze interactive technologies—including video games—as rhetorical texts. As an approach to teaching digital literacy and multimodal composition, this course addresses the question of how to teach students to analyze not only the content of new media, but also how the design of social media platforms and video game mechanics persuade users to act and understand in circumscribed ways. More specifically, this article describes the process of assigning students a video essay project that requires them to articulate and defend a sustained argument about how a video game represents nonhuman animals. As a multimodal medium, video essays can provide a record of interaction between students and human-to-software interfaces, including video games. By analyzing how and why video games afford possibilities for interaction with virtual animals, the student artifacts examined here demonstrate students’ recognition that interfaces are constructed to achieve rhetorical ends. It is my intent that such recognition serves as a gateway for students to begin approaching everyday texts as rhetorical, that is, as working to incline them to persuasion and, by extension, certain patterns of thinking and behaving.
Article: “Composite Creatures: Marianne Moore’s Zoo-logic” in ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment (Autumn 2018)
Abstract: Despite recent work in ecocriticism that embraces Marianne Moore’s modernist verse, Moore’s personal and poetic fascination with animals as resources for human use conflicts with the fundamental ecocritical sensibility that denounces anthropocentric habits of exploitation. Addressing the centrality of zoos, circuses, and museums to Moore’s work, this essay argues Moore’s animals figure a zoo-logic, or an understanding of animals developed by encountering them in “unnatural” places. An attention to Moore’s zoo-logic confronts an issue endemic to representations of animals and Moore’s poetry in particular: the uneasy relationship between appreciation and appropriation.
Abstract: Reading Go Down, Moses through the lens of recent work in animal studies demonstrates not only Faulkner’s environmental ethics but, more specifically, the ways in which his fictional representations of animal life resist appropriation by human systems of instrumental use and abuse. Faulkner’s narrative strategy, I argue, foregrounds how nonhuman and human animals are subject to violence once they are named “animal” and underscores how the animal as an abstract concept fails to critically or ethically account for the diverse lives of actual animals. At the level of Faulkner’s own prose, animals erupt from their confinement within language and narrative to call attention to the often reductive and violent gestures of human discourse.