English 3330 Children’s Literature
The calendar description for the course, as for the other courses in the English department, emphasizes critical thinking. However Calvin and Rick’s project use of multimedia can support and encourage creative, interdisciplinary thinking, as well as critical thinking.
From the calendar description: Students will study traditional and contemporary literature written for children and young adults. They will apply relevant critical and theoretical perspectives to this literature. Students will write at least one research paper that incorporates critical source material.
Calvin and Rick initally received the assignment seven weeks into the thirteen week long semester. After obtaining permission to work on their final essay assignment together, they set out to create a project that was outside the normal boundaries of writing, yet still accepted in the world of academia. Being rap recording artists outside of school, they proposed the idea of constructing an album that dealt with the class’ central issues. While Dr. Sue Ann Cairns was open to the idea, she reminded them that an essay was still required. This is when she introduced the concept of a multimodal presentation. While both students used unorthodox methods of presenting in previous classes, they were largely unaware of the concept of a multimodal presentation. Dr. Sue Ann Cairns having just come back from a colloquiam in Las Vegas about the use of such a technique, Cairns gladly stepped outside of her boundaries as instructor to allow Rick and Calvin the opportunity to express themselves creatively. From this point forward, the duo set out to translate each novel’s central themes into rap songs that students would hopefully listen and relate to. Each week, Calvin and Rick met to write and record a song until they had eight tracks that summarized the themes they had explored. It was after the completion of the album that they started the essay portion of their project in which they described the process of making the album and the accompanying music video. On the last day of class, Calvin & Rick presented on the principles of the course and the benefits of using a multimodal composition as a form of presentation. In addition, they provided their peers and the professor the completed album, “The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of.”