Instructor Reflection – Jesse James: From Hero to Villain in the Eyes of One (2.1)

by Tammie Kennedy

This was the first time I used the “Movie Memoir” assignment. I designed this project with three key issues in mind. First, I wanted to incorporate multimodal technologies into my pedagogy, especially since the course focused on film. During the 21st century, multimodal composition theory and pedagogies have emerged from efforts to expand the modalities from which students draw in order to contest the limits of word-primary texts, especially in Web 2.0 environments (Rea and White 1999; Selfe 2008). However, even with a focus on composing with new technologies, teacher-scholars often privilege cognitive ways of knowing in the writing classroom.

Second, I wanted students to have a hands-on experience with “constructing” meaning and examining the rhetorical effects of these choices. Throughout the semester, we had been critically examining the choices made by various directors and the ideological and rhetorical implications. It was important for students to become more cognizant of these issues as they “composed” their own work.

Last, because of the embodied nature of memory, I wanted to facilitate a more embodied learning project. Because Western culture has traditionally facilitated a distrust of bodily knowing, much has been lost in terms of how whole-person learning contributes to one’s capacity to engage affective as well as cognitive dimensions at the foundation of intellectual engagement, knowledge building, and critique. As Kristie Fleckenstein reminds us, “the act of composing with writing cannot be severed from the act of composing with our senses.”

While some of the students were initially intimidated by the technology and/or the potentially personal nature of the assignment, they all engaged  in meaning-making practices as they uncovered, imagined, negotiated, interpreted, and composed public discourses about memory.  I believe the final project helped to provide richer connections between writing, research, and technologies, as well as an opportunity to contest dominant discourses that shape both personal and collective memory.

Amanda’s project was outstanding. I thought her choice of presenting the two personas that emerged for her based on mediated memory was very effective. I also liked how she documented the “loss of innocence” that accompanied new knowledge about Jesse James. Her creativity was stunning, especially how she incorporated a variety of visuals both borrowed and created. Her project far surpassed my expectations.