Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Network

Rice, Jeff. "Networks and New Media." College English 69.2 (2006): 127-33. Print.

Rice's article "Networks and New Media" argues that the focus of English studies should be new media and "the problems and demands new media pose for the work done in literary studies, film studies,cultural studies, composition studies, or other areas associated with college English, principally as these areas engage with writing" (127). What Rice specifically focuses on is new media's ability to network and to show connectivity. He argues that in our everyday lives we see everything as connected, but the idea of the writer is still one of the lone author: "English studies maintains a fixed point of view through a singular notion of writing as static, fixed, and individually composed (typically via the essay or the exam), taking place in a unified realm of thought deemed 'English'" (129). In explaining what these connections are, Rice gives the examples of “[a]ssociations, combinations, and juxtapositions” (130). So, if paper is the medium of creation for the individual, new media can become the place of interconnection and group texts.

Rice further argues that looking at writing through new media changes knowledge and notes that writing in new media is social and he calls it “a process of working with information” (131). If writing becomes a process it means that knowledge is in flux and “higher education has meant the mastery of a mostly stable body of information” (131). In Rice’s conclusion he asks the questions “How can we rethink a model based on connections and linkages rather than on individual identities (as English itself and its areas of thought still propose to be)?” (132).

Rice’s short article really gets at the heart of some of the issues with new media and mulit-modality in the English classroom, especially in writing. When we ask students to work in new media, we are asking them to work in different ways than they would in a more traditional classroom. To use new media is to argue for this fluctuation in thinking, which opens a lot of possibilities and (in my opinion) makes teaching more challenging, but more productive.

My project is on film, and while film straddles the fence of old and new media I think the way it’s often used in the classroom can be included in Rice’s argument (usually through the computer to allow for easy referencing and even the digital creation of student’s work) . At first, I thought this connection between new media and combination, juxtaposition, and association was odd because I had been taught these terms through print literature. Yet, being taught one way does not mean there can’t be a better way.  Certainly film is a great way to teach these concepts visually/aurally.

This article’s defense of how a new way of writing is a new way of thinking ties in well with Carey Jewitt’s article, the one I read for my first post. It will be very helpful for theorizing what I plan to write on.

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