Chapter 8, "Composing the Artist-Medium"



Edited by Courtney S. Danforth, Kyle D. Stedman, & Michael J. Faris

The availability of digital tools has made it easier than ever to record and edit sound, and teachers of composition have noticed. We record sonic texts for our students, and we give aural assignments in many genres: audio essays, podcasts, sonic remediations, interviews, radio shows, think-alouds, experimental pieces, and much more. We're entering an age of soundwriting, where the affordances of sound intersect the pedagogies and practices of writing and rhetoric.

In the chapters that follow, you will find theories, examples, and lots of audio to encourage the use and value of soundwriting in composition, writing, rhetoric, and communications classrooms. Crank it up.

Ventriloquizing with Digital Prosopopoeia

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For me, what’s so remarkable about the rhetorical practice of prosopopeia is that it is a practice as part of the progymnasmata, meaning it has to be performed by the body and voice over and again as part of a series of learning practices, and in the literature about this practice, the end goal is rarely mentioned; it is not stated, as Rogerian rhetoric suggests, that the practice is part of forming a larger worldview nor even achieving the end goal of  empathy, nor even better argument; it is quite simply just one part of the progymnasmata rhetorical exercises, where the student learns in the practice without focusing on the produced, finished piece, or end goal.


The goal is the practice itself.

I am Josephine Miles: A Digital Reprocessing

When I first found Josephine Miles (1911-1985), she was a poet. When I found her for a second time, she was a compositionist. I was struck by her ability to seamlessly work as a poet, critic, and compositionist, but also the way in which she allowed all those things to bleed into one another in order to amplify and deepen her own intellectual inquiries.  I was struck, too, by the way her method had something to say to us now about the relationship between past, present, and future. I wanted to recover not only her forgotten trajectory—her method—but also her intellectual disposition for our disciplinary history. I wanted to bring her back to life in so many ways.


Digital Empathy: A Practice-Based Experiment

This article began, long before these words were written, as a digital-theoretical experiment and provocation in what it might mean and how it might sound if I were to speak with the digitally recorded voice of another—and not just any other, not my family or friends, but someone whose experience lies far outside of my own. At first thought, this could be the recorded voice of a mother or father, or a religious grandmother. Or, still further, this could be the voice of someone who feels alienated: Police chiefs, Muslim leaders, gang leaders, domestic violence survivors,1 differently raced lives,2and so on. I began by wondering how we could—as digital rhetoricians—cross boundaries and divisions of all kinds using archives of voices (voices dead and alive,3 past and future,4 old and young, those with dissimilar affective states, and so on), and I wondered what digital tools and affordances we could use to extend our own positionalities and affects or to imagine new relations altogether.