An Intro to PWR Student Visits the PWR Capstone Showcase

Guest Blogger Meara Waxman ’19

As soon as I walked into the CUPID studio to see the Professional Writing and Rhetoric seniors present on their capstone research, I was completely blown away. I especially noticed that a lot of the students incorporated several forms of multimedia into their projects, which just added another level of depth. In our Intro to PWR class, we talked about the importance of not only creating multimedia and multimodal products, but also maintaining an appropriate balance in the forms of media one chooses.

maggieOne example of this impressive multimedia format was a student who researched stress levels related to undergraduate research in Honors and College Fellows. Just looking at the poster itself was really cool because of the author’s rhetorical design decisions; she printed had poster with a bulletin board background and each section of the poster looked like it had been taped or tacked onto the board in the typical bulletin board style. Additionally, the pieces of paper looked just like notebook paper, right down to the frayed edges from ripping the lined paper out of the spiral notebook.

I have seen this type of design multiple times in PowerPoint presentations and picture montages, but the design worked well here because of the topic of the research. The author was looking at stress levels of students doing research, so she had a very specific audience, and she catered well to that audience. The frayed pieces of paper made the project relatable for her audience because all of the students have experienced that frantic feeling of ripping sheets out of their notebooks. Additionally, the handouts gave the impression that they had been crumpled and then smoothed out again, and stressed students conducting undergraduate research could most likely relate.

Finally, the author realized that she needed to take advantage of a medium that her audience would actually use, so she created a website. Her online site offered a step-by-step process for thesis research, and she divided it up for College and Honors Fellows. The website also ensured that her project would be out there for future students who need help in their research process.

magsAnother project that incorporated multimedia was a project entitled “The Beat Lives On.” The first element that struck me when I looked both at the poster and at the website was the blue and white theme. If I was doing the project, I probably would have chosen a white background with blue lettering, but this author did the opposite, and it made the text pop out much more.

I was also really interested by the section of the poster that talked about re-imagining the product and actually displayed a picture of the storyboarding. First, this aspect showed the process of the research instead of just the end product, which added more context to the project. Second, it also admitted the original weaknesses of the project, which encouraged audiences to respect the end result even more. I was also very impressed by the website, which, in addition to being interactive, also incorporated video, audio, and images. The most astounding part of the website was how well all of the elements worked together, making each method of communication relevant and important to the project.

mirandaFinally, I looked at a project that dealt with a rhetorical analysis of feminist propaganda. This project was interesting because it compared posters from different waves of feminism, and the author also created her own propaganda visuals based on the effective elements that she had discovered. I thought this research was very interesting, but compared to the other projects, a multimedia element was noticeably absent. Perhaps the author could have created a slideshow with all of the different visual propaganda that she analyzed. I also would have liked to see a clearer juxtaposition between the different rhetorical elements in the posters she analyzed. It was hard to learn about the actual research because I was so focused on looking at the images of the propaganda.

It was especially interesting to compare the SURF presentations with the capstone ones. Overall, these projects were all incredible, and I was so glad that I got the opportunity to see them!

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