Writing in Digital Environments

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Analyzing New Media

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Class Agenda

  1. Discussion of Designerly ≠ Readerly
  2. Review HW

Designerly v. Readerly Approaches to New Media

Cheryl Ball argues that we need a “readerly” approach to teaching and studying new media that allows us to focus on how and why new media texts make meaning in addition to the “designerly” approaches that allow us to analyze the production process (how these texts are made and why). She critiques two examples of designerly approaches. First, Gunther Kress’s & Theo van Leeuwen’s, which focuses on four strata (p. 395-399):

  • discourse
  • design
  • production
  • distribution

Second, Lev Manovich’s, which uses five principles (p. 399-402):

  • numerical representation
  • modularity
  • automation
  • variability
  • transcoding

Let’s take a look at Ball’s primary example, While Chopping Red Peppers and participate in her readerly response to the poem (p. 402-407). She explains her readerly approach this way:

Without a strategy that helps readers interpret the purpose of a new media text, readers will likely not understand the text in a way useful to writing studies. A reader could use Manovich’s (2001) principles to see if a text qualified as new media, or they could use Kress and van Leeuwen’s (2001) strata to understand how a designer created a multimodal text. But as my analysis using these rubrics indicated, while they provide a general sense of what the text is and, sometimes, does, they are limited in being able to construct a readerly interpretation. In contrast, below I offer my own interpretation of ‘Red Peppers’ using a generative-analysis model. I draw on interpretive strategies in literary and rhetorical traditions with which I am familiar and apply those strategies to the text. In doing so, my reading provides an interpretation more useful to writing studies than Kress and van Leeuwen’s strata and Manovich’s principles provided, while also showing how technological and designerly issues play a role in a broader analytical approach. (p. 402, my emphasis)

The goal of a readerly approach is to analyze how all of the elements in the text work together to create meaning and to use designerly terms to help with that task, so let’s look back at Ball’s readerly analysis on pages 402-407 and determine how Robin William’s designerly CRAP principles could help Ball isolate elements to analyze as The New London Group’s modes do in the chart on page 408. Apply the principles to the alphabetic, visual, and aural elements.

  • Contrast
  • Repetition
  • Alignment
  • Proximity

Next, let’s apply a readerly approach to the Pepsi commercial and its parody, which was the example in DeVoss & Porter’s article on copyright. How does the designer of the parody use/alter the original text to create a new meaning? How does our knowledge of the original commercial, the Napster copyright crisis, and the songs used help us to interpret the parody?


Tech Presentation Group #5: Pinterest
Read: Kress, Gains and losses: New forms of texts, knowledge, and learning
Read: Web Writing Style Guide, How Can I Use Video on my Site? to the end, p. 49-72
Blog Post 4 due


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Course Information

CO302.002, Writing In Online Environments
Fall 2016

when and where
T/TR @ 9:30-10:45am
Eddy 4

Jeremy Proctor
Eddy 311
jeremy.proctor@colostate.edu or proctorj@rams.colostate.edu

office hours
1:00 to 2:15 TR
by appointment

Most English Department faculty no longer have office phones. This means that the only way to reach me outside of class is to physically come to office hours or to email. During the work week I check email several times a day between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. Under normal circumstances I respond to email within 24 hours. If you email after 5:00 pm on a Friday (i.e., on the weekend) you might not receive a reply until Monday morning.

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