For this blog post, I searched for multimodal texts that I could use in my own classroom. I decided to choose texts that related to three texts that my students could be reading: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs.
For The Great Gatsby, I chose a clip from the 2013 film of the same name:
I would use this clip when we came to this very important part in the novel to help give my students a visual idea of what was happening. The author of this text is Warner Bros. Studios, which is the studio that produced the film. The purpose of this text, as far as my class goes, is to illustrate this incredibly important scene from the novel for my class so that visual learners can understand this scene. The audience for this text is anyone who watches the movie, mostly young adults and mature adults, or my class in this case. The genre of this text is video, and the context of this text is that it is the climax of the film.
With the design choices, this clip is organized sequentially to tell a story of an argument. The emphasis of this text is on the main characters of Tom and Jay Gatsby, who are the two major people in this argument. There is quite a bit of contrast in this clip, namely with color. For example, the color of Gatsby’s suit directly contrasts with the intensity of the situation. The alignment of this clip uses mostly the 3/8 rule, in which most of the action occurs to the middle-top of the screen. With proximity, the characters keep a good distance away from each other until the final climactic moment.
For the second text, I chose a picture from the Salem Witch Trials:
Young Goodman Brown is a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne about witches in New England. This picture, which was painted during the Salem Witch Trial, can be used to help my students realize the intensity of the Salem Witch Trials.
The author of this text is unknown, but it was painted sometime in the 19th century. The purpose of this text is to show the trial of George Jacobs, a man accused of witchcraft. The genre of this text is oil painting, and the context is that this painting was used to depict that volatile trial of an accused witch in a time where witches who were proven were killed.
When looking at this painting, the emphasis appears to be on the women in the back with the colorful clothes and big movement, namely the restrained woman who is jumping towards the judges. There is a very big contrast between the judges and the people in the crowd as far as color goes. The judges are very dark and reserved in their black robes, while the people in the crowd are all wearing bright and vibrant colors. The organization of this text is very specific, with the judges gathered in one corner of the painting and the spectators surrounding them. There is also a very specific path towards the judges that draws the eye. The alignment includes much of the action at the middle-top of the painting. The people in the painting are in fairly close proximity to each other.
Finally, from the true story Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, an artistic re-creation:
A major part of this text is when Jacobs describes the seven years she spent hiding from her Slave Master in her grandmother’s attic in a very small, cramped space. This drawing is what the space looked like.
The author of this image is unknown, but the purpose is to show what the space where Jacobs lived for 7 years would look like. The audience would be anyone who is curious about what it could have looked like. The genre is drawing, and the context is that it is a scene from a true story.
As far as the rhetorical situation goes, the emphasis is clearly on Jacobs in this photo. The light is on her, so eyes are immediately drawn to her. The contrast is also startling, because the light is so drastic compared to the dark and black outline that frames the light. As for organization, Jacobs is positioned to the side of the frame, which makes the candle necessary and useful. For alignment, Jacobs is positioned to the side, and there is a very interesting framing that gives a clear triangle. For proximity, there is not much foreground and background, but there is still a clear eye on Jacobs.