An Ecology of Ideas

We begin with an approach to multimodal composing informed by the work of many (Hawisher, Selfe, Takayoshi, Kress and others ) and seek to deepen our understanding of the ways that multimodal texts

carry meaning across geo-political, linguistic, and cultural borders, and … take advantage of multiple semiotic channels (Takayoshi and Selfe 2).

We recognize exciting contemporary pedagogical conversations about multilingualism fueled by the work of Canagarjah, Lu, Horner, Trimbur, Pavlenko, Kramsch and Whiteside, and Hawisher et. al., (to name a few),

working to revise the assumption that native speaker proficiency is the standard by which language learners should be measured and instead acknowledging the hybridity of language and language systems and the rich rhetorical resources that multilingual speakers bring to transnational communication (Canagarajah, Kramsch and Whiteside).

We  note the similarities between Canagarajah’s compelling argument about multilingual literacies and our current understandings of the productive affordances of multimodal composing, taking to heart Canagarajah’s assertion that

Linguistic meaning is created in relation to diverse symbol systems (icons, space, color, gesture, or other representational systems) and modalities of communication (writing, sound, visuals, touch, and body), not to speak of diverse languages. If we need a grammar or rules for this mode of communication, it will be a grammar of multimodality—that is, it will contain rules that account for how language meshes with diverse symbol systems, modalities of communication, and ecological resources to create meaning. (“Lingua Franca” 932)

We embrace Min Zhan Lu’s  challenge to do to be more “responsive and responsible” users of English,

instead of presenting Our confusion as resulting from Others’ ‘linguistic imperfection,’we might treat it as resulting from our lack of know-how or effort to make sense of how and why individual users of English might have come up with specific redesigning of standardized designs (Lu 26).

We adapt the metaphor of landscape from scholars in sociolinguistics investigating “linguistic landscapes” through

‘linguistic objects that mark the public space’ and illuminate the linguistic nature of a particular geographic space (Ben-Rafael et al 7) to discover markers of ‘ethnolinguistic vitality’ (Rodriguez 1).