An Introduction

We (Suzane and Alanna) have spent the last year composing, thinking and talking about the intersection of multilingual learners and multimodality. Well, maybe not the whole, year, there were a couple of snowpocolypses, some tornados, and a lot of meals and beverages shared as well. This thinking is the result of our work on a chapter in Cindy Selfe, Louis Ullman, and Scott Lloyd DeWitt’s Stories that Speak to Us, which collects “curated exhibits” of literacy narratives from the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives. Specifically, we explore what we call the “literacy landscapes” evident in the multimodal literacy narratives of multilingual contributors.

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Being Multilingual/ Multimodal

So, as new as I am to this conference and digital media, I at least understand that we should not stand up here and tell this crowd that MM is important. But, as I continually think about what it is we want to say, I was struck yesterday with our most global question.

What are the best ways to value the multilingual, multimodal act? How can we best not only teach our students to use their own multimodal communicative competencies, but also affect change—the kind Cindy Selfe asks for in CCCCs piece “The Movement of Air”–to ensure mm is value. So today I share with you an analysis of the work and narrative of Doreen Patrick, a Dakelh FN elder from central British Columbia—to both work towards that valuing myself. I encourage you to listen carefully and reflect on what it means here to experience Patrick’s work multimodally.

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Crafting Multilingual/ Multimodal

Alanna’s analysis of Doreen Patrick’s multilingual multimodality resonates both with current understandings of multilingualism in writing studies (Lu, Canagarajah, Horner, Hawisher and Selfe and others) as well as with theories of multimodality like Kress’ “social semiotic multimodality.”

Mode is meaningful: it is shaped by and carries the ‘deep’ ontological and historical/social orientations of a society and its cultures with it into every sign…Mode offers meaning-laden means for making the meanings that we wish or need to make material and tangible – ‘realizing’, materializing’ meanings.

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