In thinking of how to organize my social history of rhetoric project, I have been tinkering with the idea of collage. Beam essentially rewrites history through collage and montage of seemingly unrelated icons, indices, and symbols. These techniques allow him to construct history in a nonlinear fashion–an important move for Beam since his work, in part, is intended to disrupt master narratives based on linear ways of viewing the world. As he writes in speaking about the American Indian perspective, “We have the collage aspect to looking at life, which we could call cyclical—with no single viewpoint predominating.” The Renaissance linear way of looking “depicted reality within a scientific viewpoint; there was a science to looking and reality….[Y]ou can look at things from more than one point of view and not be threatened.” This point in his work is provocative to me and reminds me of Vitanza’s work in the Octalog in which he argues that rather than try to create a better world through the work of historiography (as Robert Conners proposes), scholars ought to be looking for ways to deconstruct homogeneous methodologies of inquiry and production of texts. Collage as a method of producing texts is being used more and more in the academy under the guise of multi-modal writing. I played with this genre in my seminar paper in my visual culture course last semester, mostly because I find it to be a creative and stimulating outlet. (For those of you who don’t know, I am a creative writer at heart. Short stories.) Beam and Vitanza, however, have really made me rethink the political value of multimodal historiography. It seems to me that a multimodal social history of Beam’s rhetorical art would be a means to present his work rather than represent it. It would be a means to talk beside Beam rather than for him. It would be a way for his art and his words to speak for themselves as well as a means for the scholars I will draw on to speak for themselves. A multimodal social history, in other words, is a way to write history in ways that honor the rhetorical voice, to whom I want scholars in our field to listen. For my first draft then, I am thinking of trying to create the draft in multimodal form to see what everyone thinks. Any thoughts????
December 4, 2007 · 11:36 pm