Note: This Unit I Multimodal assignment is adapted (ever so slightly) from a project designed by Katie Logan and Zach Hilpert.
The requirements for UNIV 112’s Unit One project state that the student will “produce a multimodal composition that incorporates analysis or experiential narrative.” In our class, this multimodal composition is a map, although your map can take many forms. To successfully complete the assignment, you will need to do choose a place you know well—your hometown, Richmond, or another community—and make a decision about how best to map it; that is, how best to represent what it is to someone looking to understand the space.
This map, though, won’t resemble any map that you could find online or in an atlas, though. Because we’ve been discussing The City and the City in class, you know that even without living in Beszel or Ul Qoma, we still experience crosshatched spaces. We still notice and unnotice things around us. Institutions and unspoken social norms act as Breach, preventing us from breaching those crosshatched locations.
As you think about the place you’ve selected, you should also think about what crosshatching, unnoticing, or breaching occurs in that place, and you’ll need to find a way to represent that action in your map.
Your final submission will include two components: a map and a user guide.
Your map must meet the following requirements:
- It must be of a specific and real place (unfortunately, Hogwarts, Narnia, and The Shire won’t work for this particular project), and the place should be one where you have some experience.
- It must incorporate at least TWO multimodal elements (i.e. text, image, sound, smell, touch, performance, gesture, spatial organization, or any other “mode” you can invent).
- It must feature a “key” that helps your audience follow the map’s narrative/logic by identifying and decoding the symbols you use (this could be color, icons, scale, orientation, landmarks, etc).
- It must clearly demonstrate some form of crosshatching or possible breach that occurs within that space. (Some tips: think about other people who might interact with the space differently than you—how would they perceive the same location? What are the “rules” of the place? Why do those rules exist and what happens if you break them?)
- All multimodal material (i.e. images, sound, etc.) must be produced by YOU—that is, you cannot use material that someone else has produced for this project.
As long as your map meets the requirements above, it can take any form you choose—you might create a hard copy version or you can design something electronic. The map can incorporate elements from a traditional map or you can define “map” broadly and create something more abstract in nature. The choices you make must reflect the central meaning or idea you aim to convey to your audience—how will your creative multimodal elements help you most effectively explain your place to that audience?
Note: While you’re welcome to pick any place that matters to you, I recommend getting fairly specific and focused about that place; you can focus on an area as small in scale as you would like.
Additional Note: Your final product should be thoughtful, should use storytelling and counter-storytelling to show existing tensions,
Your User Guide (300-500 words)
Your map should be submitted with a short user guide that explains the map key, the location represented, and the content mapped. This text should give your reader a sense of what choices you have made and why, and should help your reader better understand the dynamics represented in the map you’ve created.
Possible Supportive Resources
VCU’s Writing Center can be a great spot to workshop ideas and brainstorm with another individual. They have in person and online consultations.
The VCU Arts GOlab has printing equipment that can be very helpful for creating large images or posters (please note, though, that I’m happy to accept digital files to save $$).
The Workshop, VCU’s Innovative Media department, has all sorts of equipment you can borrow and/or learn how to use in-house with a few quick trainings. Anything you envision can become a reality there! (It’s in the basement of Cabell).
Dr. Hilpert and Dr. Logan (who co-designed this assignment) have found the following resources very potentially generative. Feel free to use them, but make sure you acknowledge any help in your reflection essay.
- “30 brilliant tips for creating illustrated maps” (Digitalartsonline.co.uk) is filled with great advice about how to envision, step back from, and play around with your map. Please note that I am NOT expecting you to be an expert illustrator, so take all this advice as just that—I won’t be basing my rubric around how good your pencil work is!
- Reddit’s MapPorn site (totally SFW) also has recommendations for Software and resources to make your map a reality!