WAM Background

Writing Across Media is an advanced composition course course supported by the Center for Writing Studies and the Illinois Informatics Institute.

Writing Across Media (WAM) was developed in the Summer of 2008 as an elective course for the Informatics minor supported by the Illinois Informatics Institute. The course is a collaboration of the Writing Across Media Steering Committee, led by Gail Hawisher, Jon Stone, and Mark Barnes, and including Paul Prior, Patrick Berry, Amber Buck, and Jenica Roberts. In 2009, Writing Across Media became an Advanced Composition course and is currently crosslisted as INFO 303/WRIT 303.

The WAM course is influenced by work in writing studies and related fields that argues for the expansion of writing courses to include composing practices occurring not just through print text, but through other modes as well. As Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis (2000) and Gunther Kress (2003) have argued, notions of literacy have expanded to include visual and other means of communication in a variety of modes, both digital and nondigital. Writing (alphabetic literacy), Kress asserts, often represents only a portion of the meaning writers want to convey. Therefore literate practices need to convey a full range of modes and media (alphabet, photographs, video, color, sound). WAM takes up calls by Cheryl Ball (2004) and Jeff Rice (2007) to focus not only on the analysis of multimodal texts in writing classes but also the composition of these texts.

WAM broadens students’ understanding of written discourse as it is produced, represented, and read across a variety of media. Students learn how writing and composition changes through digital productions that may also rely on sound, still and moving images, animation, and other media to create meaning. Through their own hands-on multimedia productions, they also learn how theoretical perspectives lead to the rethinking of conventional rhetorical concepts such as authorship, audience, process, revision, and design when applied to digital contexts. The WAM curriculum design has been inspired by a wealth of examples of new media compositions in writing studies, from the assignments provided in Anne Wysocki, Johndan Johnson-Eilola, Cynthia Selfe, and Geoffrey Sirc’s collection, Writing New Media (2004), Jody Shipka’s (2005) museum assignments, and Heidi McKee’s sound-based webtexts (2006), to the ideas and examples presented the journal Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy. We've also been influenced by colleagues here at the University of Illinois, particularly Joseph Squier and Maria Lovett through their work in the development of Art 250: Writing with Video.

Read more about the class in the Illinois Informatics Institute article: "Writing Across Media: Informatics class surges in popularity."

WAM image designed by Mark Barnes, website maintained by Amber Buck.