• The Places of Writing on the Multimodal Page

    Matthew Davis, Alex Mueller (see profile)
    CLCS Medieval, RCWS History and Theory of Composition, RCWS Writing Pedagogies, TC Digital Humanities, TM Book History, Print Cultures, Lexicography
    Rhetoric, Books, History
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Annotation, web design, page, medieval writing, Digital rhetoric, Multimodality, Book history, History of rhetoric, Writing studies, Manuscript cultures
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    Prior to the advent of the printing press, the page—the medieval manuscript page—was often complexly multimodal, containing elaborate scripts, rubrications, and illuminations; the medieval page was a multimedia experience for its community of readers, viewers, and listeners. Both writing and the page are, and always were, visual: rendered in multicolored acrostics, historiated initials, and varying sizes of script. In this essay, we argue that the knowledge of this history compels us to orient our reading and writing pedagogy newly to the page, particularly its design elements: not just images and text but the entire mise-en-page, the layout, the arrangement, and the spaces for annotation and interaction. Digital texts—particularly within development of Web 2.0 text technologies— have reinvigorated our attention to the page as a site of multimodality. In terms of modal complexity, the digital page is multimodal in ways the printed page cannot be: in its speed and scale of activity and its coordination of audio, moving image, and responsive design. But what comparing these historical moments shows even more clearly is that the page is now a place that enables forms of textual activity both new and old: clicking, scrolling, reading, embedding, interacting, commenting, annotating.
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    Last Updated:
    3 years ago
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