Reflection on Fraiberg´s Composition 2.0

In Composition 2.0 : Toward a Multilingual and Multimodal Framework (2010), Fraiberg calls for a change in composition pedagogies for the 21st century by mainly incorporating what he calls “code-mashing”, or multilingual and multimodal elements to writing pedagogies and practices.

Therefore, it seems evident that composition instructors, students, administrators, researchers and other actors involved in its pedagogy should understand writing from a broader perspective and look at writing practices as they are produced, distributed and received not only in “official” or academic settings but also in unofficial sites as well as in digital and physical spaces .  Composition studies should be addressed from a “less-bounded approach” (104). Fraiberg offers a methodological framework to that conceptualizes languages “as situated, dynamic, heterogeneous, co-constitutive, and contested” (104).

Four concepts are key for Fraiberg approach:

  1. Ecology: literacy practices are shaped by a wide range of factors
  2. Knotworking: “the continual tying and untying of genres, objects, texts and people” (105). Writing practices constitute the knots by which “social, material and semiotic relationships” are conceptualized “105).
  3. Remediation: each genre/writing product is the result of its connections and influences of previous genres/products.
  4. Actant-network theory: objects and students/teachers shape each other, engage in a dialogue. Genres as “stable-for-now” (Schryer).

By analyzing the website of a high-tech Israeli company, Fraiberg illustrates the possibilities of multilingual and multimodal composition practices, although in his opinion these practices pose some challenges: “(y)et such work poses serious challenges for those of us who are not fluent in another language or culture, and indeed my own mastery of Hebrew has been an ongoing struggle. My reading of this website, for instance, includes consultation with two native Hebrew speakers, the academic literature in anthropology and Israeli studies, and triangulation with ethnographic data gathered from field work in the high-tech industry and a range of other contexts. I would argue, however, that this cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary engagement is key to forming new disciplinary `knotworks´necessary for moving our understanding of literacy practices beyond North American contexts” (110). What Fraiberg sees as challenges can also be opportunities, in my opinion. Especially if we consider that one of the goals of composition courses is to help students become writing researchers. By being exposed to these challenges, students start developing, little by little, their research skills (because they have to, if they want to understand the texts), as I described in my post “First-year Composition Students Uptake on Multilingual Writing: How to be a Boundary Crosser if you are a “Monolingual” Writer” (http://www.digitalrhetoriccollaborative.org/2014/10/30/first-year-composition-students-uptake-multilingual-writing-how-to-be-a-boundary-crosser-if-you-are-a-monolingual-writer/ ). 

However, I also believe that exposing students to languages that are somehow familiar to them (such as Spanish, French or even varieties of the English language such as AAVE) may be more feasible in the classroom than exposing them to languages that are linguistically further from them.

Fraiberg also emphasizes the need to establish partnerships  between the composition and ESL and languages courses: “(a)ttention to this process also suggest the need for composition and rhetoric programs to more strongly emphasize learning world languages” (110).

Although Fraiberg briefly describes some activities that composition instructors can implement in their classes, it is still pretty uncertain how to design a curriculum that integrates ESL, foreign language and traditional composition approaches. In my opinion, we should first develop a culture of multilingualism, which is still absent in many English departments. In order to do that, we need to understand the ideologies that inform the so-called “monolingual” students´uptake on multilingual writing as Bawarshi claims in “The Challenges and Possibilities of Taking up multiple discursive resources in U.S. college composition” in Horner, Bruce, Min-Zhan Lu, and Paul Kei Matsuda, eds. Cross-language relations in composition. SIU Press, 2010).

As a multilingual composition instructor myself, I have always wondered about what ESL and foreign language pedagogies can offer to composition courses, besides a focus on grammar. Moreover, I wonder what a composition course that integrates those pedagogies would be like. In some way, wouldn´t that approach be like the ones used in translation courses?

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2 thoughts on “Reflection on Fraiberg´s Composition 2.0

  1. Hola Cristina!

    Soy Diego (estudié contigo filología en Salamanca) y estoy trabajando en el doctorado acerca de la expresión escrita. Qué interesante tu artículo! Muchos saludos!

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    1. Hola Diego! Gracias 🙂 Parece que hacemos cosas parecidas, entonces. Lo tuyo es acerca de la expresión escrita, pero, en qué idiomas? Desde que enfoque teórico? Cuéntame, a ver qué aprendemos el uno del otro. Saludos!

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