Media project

For this unit we will be expanding the bounds of writing and experimenting with different modes of composition.

Reading body marks is … an uncertain form of textual practice because there are no necessary linkages between marks and roles.
-Bryan Turner

Media Project: Textual Communities

Establishing somatic identifications (definitions based on the body) is one rhetorical strategy of community formation. Identification or disidentification with an established norm can create a feeling of belonging, or on the other hand, a feeling of isolation or alienation. But this strategy also works against established norms. One of the important ways people resist externally imposed definitions is to form a new coalition or community. In this way, the outside of an inside/outside binary can become a new inside. These communities can even establish new and competing standards of normality and difference (remember Dove’s double-take on beauty?). Of course another radical mode of resisting is to deny the idea of community altogether. This often takes on the rhetoric of radical individualism.

Because of the importance of community to ideas about the body, your main project for Unit II will focus on this concept. Your job is to construct an argument about body modification as method of (or resistance to) community identification. You will want to address two central questions in your study:

1. How do body modifiers form new communities? (Or, if you think that body modification resists the idea of community, how do they resist community?)

2. Why is the idea of community important (or not important) to this group?
This project is unique among your other assignments for the class because of its required means of gathering (A) and presenting (B) evidence.

A. Gathering evidence:

Your argument will be built on the evidence gathered from three ethnographies: the personal, the virtual, and the professional. An ethnography is a description of a people or culture based on observation or interaction, so this assignment will require you to both construct and enact an inquiry that serves the purpose of your argument. In a series of three studies, you will investigate the virtual body modification community, the personal interaction with these ideas and community, and the professional or commercial space offered by tattoo parlors and artists.

B. Presenting evidence:

This project will also be unique in it’s the way you will present your argument for evaluation. Instead of a traditional academic paper, you will compose a brief documentary film (2 minutes). This means you have a variety of new rhetorical strategies at your disposal but it is important to remember that, like a paper, you need to present a well-organized and persuasive argument. This assignment will also be an exercise in collaborative composition. You will work in groups of four to collect and document evidence, organize that evidence (editing), and present the argument to the class.

This new format means that we will have some in-class training to prepare you for this assignment. We will have one day of instruction from Digital Media Services (DMS) on production techniques and the use of video equipment. This equipment will then be available to check out from the DMS lab located at GSB 2.130. Make sure to check out the website for hours of operation. We will also have another day of instruction from DMS on the iMovie application. This application will help you edit your material and finalize your project. It is available on all CWRL computers, so you will be able to use the open lab (Parlin 102) to work on the project.


Group 1


Group 2


Group 3