Instructor Reflection – Plastination! Unlock a World of Post-Mortem Possibility! (6.1)

By Lindsey Gay

The class’s multimodal final project comprised several parts: a research portion with an annotated bibliography; a project proposal; a written “Introduction” that explained the student’s research, claims, argumentative strategies, medium, and audience; and the digital creation itself. A student might have chosen to attempt to convince his or her audience of a specific perspective; to educate them; to entertain them; or some combination of these purposes. At each stage, the student had to reflect on his or her own approach and execution: from initial concept, to research and planning, to learning how to manipulate new media.

Hannah’s project on plastination (science museum exhibits like Body Worlds) adroitly combines the purposes of persuasion, education, and entertainment. I was impressed not only with her ability to craft a visually appealing, complex, and engaging infographic, but also with the thought and planning she put into the overall purpose and elements of that infographic. It’s often difficult to strike the right note for a satiric project, but Hannah’s smart word choice, verbal style, and visual choices succeeded in creating a wry enthusiasm that smacks of ironic parody and wit. I also commend her for really reflecting, during the planning stage, on the medium most appropriate for her project. Hannah’s written work tended to be very verbose—skillfully executed, but in very large quantities!—and for this project, she knew that she needed to be more concise and snappy in order to keep her audience’s interest. Her infographic works hard to limit its word-count and to rely more on the tone created by concise phrasing and visual design. Moreover, she keeps to her main claim—that exhibits of plastinated bodies lack sensitivity to the deceased—while addressing sub-claims and while maintaining the argument’s specific tone. She carefully considered how to craft implicit arguments, what types of information to include, how to appeal to certain audiences, and how to incorporate source citation.

Overall, Hannah’s project demonstrated a serious process of planning, experimentation, reflection, and revision. She crafted an engaging and impressive infographic that speaks volumes of her ability to bring together information and argumentation into a persuasive digital project. In this way she was able to bring together many elements of the entire class, particularly from our wide-ranging unit on rhetorical analysis. The class discovered so many ways to represent, view, argue about, and contextualize death and dying that occasionally the many possibilities seemed overwhelming. It can be difficult to focus one’s attention on any specific aspect of death and dying, which despite their unique qualities for any individual are truly universal.