Unit 3

For Unit 3, you will work in pairs and compose a multimodal project using all five (5) modals (linguistic, spatial, gestural, visual, and audio.) What does that mean? It means that you will create a multimedia piece with a written component. It can be any combination of text, visuals, audio, animation, graphics, or art. Your multimodal work can take a number of forms, but it is not you interviewing someone on your phone, and playing it for the class #boring. In other words, you will use research and reporting skills (honed from Unit 2) to create a multimodal project on a discourse community of your neighborhood choice in Brooklyn. This is an opportunity to be super creative!


For example, I am interested in the Discourse Community of natural hair braiders. I would choose Bed Stuy, Brooklyn for my Community Project. Based on Unit 2, I have four (4) different genres that I can use to research and further investigate things like: popular/unpopular, expensive/inexpensive hair salons that represent both Africans and black Americans; I would research the different African cultures that wear braids. For my multimodal component, I would, use statistics (natural vs. processed), record hair being braided while the stylist spoke, the end product is the art, animation is preparation involved in getting one’s hair braided, and graphics are the various hair salons in the community of Bed Stuy.


In Unit 3, you will be using your research to compose a document/artifact in a new genre. You might want to write a magazine article (for a particular publication), a comic book, short story or create a podcast, or a video essay. For sure, you have multiple publishing options for your Unit 3 genre. (Hint: think about your audience and the best way to communicate with them. Where could you publish or present your piece?)


The possibilities are virtually endless. The caveats are that you must:

  • have a rhetorical understanding of the genre you choose
  • make use of the research you did in Unit 2


You cannot simply write an “essay.” You will need to be specific, and the genre must contain words. It would help you to have a specific example (or model) of the genre in which you choose to write. You will have written about this genre, in some form, so use the knowledge you already have, and the knowledge you will gain from further research, to craft the best version of a document in the genre you have chosen. If you are choosing to do something say in video or song, you must transcribe the words.


Some ways you might want to get started:

  • Question your intent. Think, “What do I have to say? Why do I care about this topic?

What is the best genre for me to communicate what I have to say?”

  • Choose a genre you like and that you think best fits your intent. If you decide for

instance that you want to talk about bodegas, or your bodega specifically, perhaps an exposé is best.

  • The topic and genre should mesh.



Outline of Tasks and Points:


  1. View a list of various NYC neighborhoods by visiting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neighborhoods_in_New_York_City.


  1. Research: select a few neighborhoods and Google them. Then, choose one (1) neighborhood in which you would like to do your observation about your Discourse Community. Once you’ve narrowed your focus/have chosen your genre, outline your argument. How will you support your general claim? What kind of sources would strengthen your argument? Which genre will serve as your primary text?


  1. Proposal. Consider again how your research and genre analysis in Unit 2 has addressed/influenced your line of questioning. What do you want to say? Why is your topic important to you and to the community at large? Which genre is best suited to communicating your message?
  2. Plan: spend at least two hours in that neighborhood walking around to gather your data on two (2) different days (i.e., Wednesday and Saturday).
  3. Create: be sure to include information about where exactly your neighborhood is (borough, direction in the borough, etc.), how you got there, what streets you walked on, what time of day and day of the week you were there and why you selected this neighborhood.
  4. Incorporate Modes:
  • Linguistic – word choice; delivery of spoken or written text (tone); organization into sentences, phrases, paragraphs, etc.; coherence of individual words and ideas
  • Visual – color layout style size perspective, Google My Maps to create maps that highlight specific locations, or create memes or digital posters.
  • Gestural – facial expressions, hand gestures, body language, interactions between people
  • Spatial – arrangement, organization, proximity between people and objects
  • Audio – use Sound Cloud or if you have a Mac, GarageBand can help you create a podcast; Buzzsprout, IG, Youtube, TikTok, and/or Facebookas a platform to host your product.


  1. Write Rough draft. Begin writing. Bring in research and the methodological knowledge you’ve gained from our investigation into genre and rhetoric. Look to your source/mentor text for ideas about structure. Bring two (2) copies of your rough draft to class (or upload and email) to participate in the peer writing-workshop.
  2. Conduct further research, based on feedback on your rough draft, if necessary, to

support your claims/vision. Incorporate reflection and feedback in order to improve the final product.


  1. Reflect: write a two-page reflection paper describing your experience using the

information you gathered. Organize ideas by creating an outline before you write

your Reflection so you can be sure to include all of the information you gathered.


  1. Present: in a 20-minute presentation (15min+5mins Q&A) about your exploratory walk. Be sure to use all of the information you gathered during your observation and present it in a clear, organized, and concise interactive way. Use visual aids to support your presentation and index cards for your speech notes.
  2. **Final draft. Upload Unit 3 to Open Lab, and bring one copy of your full report to class (or email me at: jcleslie@citytech.cuny.edu) on the due date.



  1. Genre Awareness. You must show an understanding of the “rules” of the genre you are working in. Part of the Unit 3 assignment is a “genre report” (similar to those you did in Unit 2). Is this thoughtful, and well reasoned? Do you follow these guidelines in your final project?


  1. Audience Awareness. Does your project do a good job at anticipating and accommodating the group to which it is addressed? Does your project make the diction, argument, genre, and design choices appropriate to your chosen audience?


  1. Care. How carefully have you constructed a “finished work” in the genre of your choosing? For instance, a great deal of care was put into how a documentary organizes information and image to convey a particular message to an audience. This criterion will vary depending on your genre, but you must in all cases turn in a finished, organized project that is consistent and free of typos and formatting errors. You should be able to explain why everything is where it is.


  1. Effectiveness of Message. Do you communicate a clear message to your intended audience? Your audience should walk away either having learned something that could change how they think about your topic, or else with productive questions about your topic. It should inspire nuanced engagement and curiosity in your audience.

Discourse Communities

Students should be provide visual images of certain communities if permissible:

Social organizations – Did you observe families, couples, children with other adults, groups of younger children, friends? Can you identify a specific class to which the members of this community belong? If so, why did you identify them as being from that class?

Customs and Traditions – How were people dressed? Were the women dressed specifically to the culture(s) you observed? Were the men? Did you see any sign of physicality within the groups (i.e. were mothers mostly holding their children’s hands?, did couples hold hands?, Did father’s have their hands on their children’s heads etc?). Were certain colors predominant? Did you see symbols or other visual evidence that identifies the culture (s)? If you would like to include a photo or a drawing in your presentation, please do. Did your neighborhood have certain scents that you would consider specific to a culture? Did you hear sounds that you think are unique to your location?

 Religion – What religion(s) seemed to be the most prevalent? How do you know? Did you see symbols of religion (cross, Star of David etc.) or buildings (mosques, churches, etc.,) How do you think clothing and religion overlapped for the people in the neighborhood?

 Language – Could you tell what the spoken language(s) was/were? Could you tell if everyone who spoke the same language (s) shared the same culture? Or did they come from different cultures? Did you notice people speaking English to one another? If so, did you notice any dialects/accents? Did you see any signs of body language being used between people (i.e., bowing, avoidance, facial expressions) What written language did you see on the signs? Did some retail establishments have specific language signs while others had different languages?

 Arts and Literature – Did you get a sense of the arts (music, fine art, theater) or literature people treasure in the neighborhood? If there is a public library, did you go in and see if some of the books at the front were in a language other than English?

 Food – What kinds of restaurants did you notice in the neighborhood? By looking at the menus in front of the restaurants, did you get a sense of the kind of food the people in that neighborhood like to eat? Or what people don’t like to eat? Try the food, what did it taste like?

 Gender – Did you observe a predominance of one gender over another? Can you describe the juxtaposition of genders? Were you able to identify any signs of an LGBTQIA community or view same-sex couples?

2 thoughts on “Unit 3

  1. James Wu

    This looks good. I like how you guide the student through the process. It’s quite different than what I did, but it makes sense. I particularly like your categories of looking at disco coms: Social organization; customs and traditions; religion; language; arts and lit; food; gender. This gives the student some real substance to work with. Very nice. I may steal some of this.

    Overall, as I re-read your assignment, and think about it, I have a clear idea of what you are asking the student to do.

    1. Carrie Hall

      I like this assignment a lot too. I think you can frame it just a bit more clearly for students by articulating the link between DC and message/genre for them. That is: “start with a DC– what do you want to tell them, and how?”

      or, “start with an idea that’s important to you. What DC needs to know about it? What’s the best genre for delivering that message?”

      I also think I might lighten the load on all of you by not making them use all 5 modes. Maybe say 3?

      Hope this helps and keep in touch. Who knows what next semester will bring? (I shudder to ask.)

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