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Understanding Rhetoric and Multimodal Composition

The purpose of this assignment is to understand different rhetorical appeals and strategies by putting them into practice yourself. This assignment will also allow you to practice with multimodal writing and with Medium, the tool you will use for your Multimodal Research Assignment at the end of the course. There is a Medium tutorial page in this module. 

Writing in fields ranging from journalism to the health sciences is increasingly multimodal (occurring in more than one mode, such as print, electronic, visual, etc.) and mixed media. This means that writers in the 21st century, across all disciplines and career fields, need to have media and multimodal literacy skills. Whether those skills are put to use by integrating charts or graphs into reports, or by making infographics that transmit complex information, or by composing editorial news stories that incorporate video, audio, image, and text, it is important to understand the growing overlap between the principles of design and those of composition. 

According to the National Council of Teachers of English (Links to an external site.), “because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the 21st century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies are multiple, dynamic, and malleable.” In their most recent Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition (Links to an external site.) (2014), the Council of Writing Programs Administrators removed “digital literacy” as a separate category, instead integrating digital design and multimodal writing into the traditional categories of “Rhetorical Knowledge,” “Critical Thinking, Reading, and Composing,” “Processes,” and “Knowledge of Conventions.” For example, under “Rhetorical Knowledge”, the WPA states that students should be able to “match the capacities of different environments (e.g., print and electronic) to varying rhetorical situations.” In “Processes,” the WPA believes at the end of First-Year Composition, students should learn to “adapt composing processes for a variety of technologies and modalities.” This shift from the strictly textual to the multimodal is reflective of larger cultural shifts toward multimodal communication.


This assignment has two parts. First, you will compose a multimodal Medium essay in order to raise awareness about an issue that is important to you. You must use to complete this part of the assignment. You will think about how to use rhetorical appeals and strategies to persuade your audience, as well as how to leverage a multimodal tool–Medium–to help you make your point effectively. Second, you will compose a short companion narrative to your Medium essay that analyzes and explains the rhetorical choices you have made. This is a composition written in Word. By analyzing your own rhetorical choices, you will see how all writers/authors make intentional choices about how best to appeal to their audience.



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