Writing with Video 3.0
The current curriculum is the third iteration of Writing with Video (WwV) and represents a fusion of the skills and visions of its current developers:
Joseph Squier (MFA, photography and painting) :: visual artist and writer.
Kimber Andrews (MFA, dance) :: dancer and choreographer; PhD candidate, education.
Conception and development of Writing with Video 1.0 was begun in 2005 as a collaboration beween Maria Lovett (PhD, Educational Policy Studies) and Joseph Squier. Lovett, in addition to her scholarly work, is also a practicing documentary filmmaker. Nan Goggin played an integral role in the development of versions 1.0 and 2.0 of the curriculum.
Instructors who have taught the course over the past few years have each made essential contributions to the curriculum. We acknowledge and celebrate their influence, and our good fortune in working with them: Hannah Bellwoar, Roberta Bennett, Amber Buck, Laura Chiaramonte, Christina Chin, Ashwyn Collins, Cory Holding, Meadow Jones, Kimberly Kwee, Hannah Lee, Sara Mackus, John O’Connor, Brad Olsen, Jenica Roberts, Janine Solberg, Angela Waarala, and Marthea Webber.
In developing the current version of WvV, we have sought to design a curriculum that combines process-based writing with the creative methods and practices commonly found in the visual and performing arts. Some of the central values and goals that have guided this process are as follows:
creative inquiry and design thinking
The arts offer students an opportunity to experience methods of inquiry, creativity, problem-solving, and discovery that are frequently different from those practiced in the realms of science and technology; methods that might be visual, performative, non-verbal, non-linear, or even intuitive. Yet these modes of research, synthesis, and expression can often yield results that are surprising, innovative, and powerful. These creative/design skills and methodologies have application across the full range of the professional practices, intellectual pursuits, and personal lives of tomorrow’s citizens and leaders. It is no longer enough to focus on the development of sequential, literal, analytical skills. Instead, the next generation of leaders will be distinct, and prized, for their ability to think and operate in ways that are metaphorical, aesthetic, contextual, critical, and synthetic. These are the types of skills employed by artists and designers, they are disciplined and rigorous, and they can be taught in a classroom to a diverse student body.
There is value to being able to identify what we know and in understanding where our knowledge, beliefs, and values come from. Self-knowledge is gained through a process of reflecting on our goals, regularly revisiting and refining those goals, and ultimately assessing the success of our efforts. As we become more self-aware, and understand what has shaped us, the better prepared we are to engage others who believe and act differently. Writing and the arts promote — and in fact are reliant upon — one’s ability to be reflective. (Reflection in the Writing Classroom, by Kathleen Blake Yancey, is a great resource on this topic.)
Artists are makers, they engage ideas, questions, and controversies by making something: an image, a performance, or perhaps a video. There are subtle but important differences between studying and making (they are complementary activities, and in a perfect world one should be able to engage in both). Making something is powerfully experiential and can bring students into direct contact with both their tools and their subject.
rehearsal and improvisation
Artists rarely succeed on their first try and quickly realize that mastery is achieved through persistence, repetition, resilience, and commitment. Skill is gained and success is finally achieved only after a series of near misses (or maybe outright failure!) and through a process of progressive refinement. There are interesting similarities to what writers mean by the concept of ‘multiple drafts’. And every artist knows that the finished product is frequently different from the original blueprint; they are constantly making adjustments and stumbling on new ideas — improvising — along the way. Solutions are not always immediate or obvious, the path to discovery is not always a linear direct route, and there are moments when intuition and spontaneity can lead us in surprising and exciting new directions.
writing to learn
Process-based writing is a powerful and essential component of the creative process. Artists are constantly keeping lists of ideas and inspiration, collecting their thoughts and impressions in journals. Brainstorming, conceptualization, storyboarding, editing, and critique all lend themselves to some kind of inscription process. Students frequently discover that, through writing, they can explore ideas, break down and organize complex tasks, better understand their goals, and effectivley assess their accomplishments.
rhetoric, literacy, and composition
Rhetoric has come off the page. Contemporary forms of conversation, argumentation, and persuasion rarely exist as pure singular media. The most powerful and pervasive are authored in multiple modes and are deployed across networks characterized by media hybridity. The technology of ink and paper only accommodates a subset of what we mean by literacy in this century. Electronic media and networks play an increasingly important role in today’s communication landscape. Consider, for example, how video is used in popular culture to inform, explain, and persuade; and how social networks are redefining our concepts of community, empowerment, and participation. Technologically literate students who understand visual, time-based communication and have robust writing skills will have a competitive advantage in the coming decades. The leaders of the next generation will possess sophisticated, multi-modal communication skills. Likewise, we embrace an expanded definition of the term composition, and note with excitement its centrality to the vocabulary of not just writers, but also painters, designers, photographers, dancers, musicians, etc.
learning outcomes and assessment
Our learning outcome goals can be organized into five categories:
- creativity, innovation, and design thinking
- communication and literacy across multiple media
- critical thinking and analysis, as both an author and consumer of media
- personal skills: curiosity, ambition, risk-taking, tolerance of ambiguity, responsibility, working with others
- technical ability and production skills
For more details take a look at our master rubric, which outlines specific criteria in each area. Each of the three course modules has a specific grading rubric that aligns with this overall assessment map.