Dissertation in Remediation

dissertation title:

“That Doesn’t Sound Like Me: Student Perceptions of Semiotic Resources in Written-Aural Remediation Practices.”


dissertation image with sound tools
image by jjbuckner


In this dissertation, I examine students’ composing and learning practices when they are working within unfamiliar modalities. In doing so, I use this dissertation to turn our attention to students’ messy material and cognitive negotiations prior to their production of a polished multimodal project. Specifically, this dissertation study examines the attitudes, experiences, and composing practices of first-year writing students enrolled in a composition II course at a private, liberal arts institution in the South who were tasked with revising their writing  into (and through) sound editing software to complete an “audio revision project.” Using a grounded theory methodology, my study examines the practices of seven students using various materials, their evolving attitudes about those materials, and the impact of their composing process on learning and interpersonal development.

image of sound editing tools
image by jjbuckner

An excerpt from my written conclusion that provides context for the audio remix  click to read

By extension, this [print] dissertation gains significance in our recognition of it as a discipline-specific sign. These pages, paragraphs, sentences, and words are shaped by histories of doctoral experiences before me that I was socialized to recognize and replicate for the purposes of completing my PhD requirements. In doing so, I came to understand and use dissertation signs, such as recognizable phrases or chapter genres, to communicate meaning through a delivery format that would be recognizable to readers of my text. While I consider my experience of composing a dissertation to be one of the most difficult and fulfilling challenges I’ve faced, I do think that this culturally significant form falls short in its potential for recreating a  semiotically rich research experience. Culturally, a dissertation’s alphabetic resources shapes ways that readers can experience and respond to the rich body of materials, especially in our discipline’s expectations of what a scholar can do within the genre and materials of a dissertation. This written form limits our perception of the range of semiotic resources that shape its meaning.

My own dissertation is a remediated composition in my simultaneous use of a deep and full body of resources, not represented in this linear format. Those resources included hand-sketched drawings in a composition book, audio memos recorded in SoundCloud during a bike ride, Skype conversations with my chair, giant post it notes with chapter reminders taped to my bedroom wall, stacks of books and articles inked with annotations, and—perhaps my favorite—my daughter’s handwriting on the envelope of an electric bill of the phrase “nuance of experience,” an idea that I blurted at her bus stop. All of these semiotic resources worked together to influence and shape this series of words and, by extension, their meaning; however, other than my description in the previous sentence, readers would hardly perceive their presence in my composing process. For this reason, I argue that one critical area for expansion is in our producing texts about remediation that are themselves opaquely remediated.

This means that studies and dissertations should foreground a range of semiotic resources implicated in their composing processes through delivery formats that highlight materials and bodies. This remediated digital scholarship would recreate an environment, rich with semiotic resources, that would invite audiences to engage with a variety of materials implicated in dissertation studies, heightening our opportunities for resonant, embodied experiences with scholarship. In the spirit of exploring these expansions in scholarly delivery, I invite you now to set this screen/print material aside and visit my website at jjbuckner.com to experience an aural remediation of my concluding thoughts, including an examination of sound-oriented materials from this dissertation process.

audio remix of conclusion:

references for audio remix:

The Walin’ Jennys. “One Voice.” Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House. 2009. CD.

One thought on “Dissertation in Remediation”

  1. Thanks for letting me be a part of your dissertation process and for the audio remix. Looking forward to Tuesday! Joyce

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