Uptake on Milu’s Article “What Does it Take to Compose and Read a Translingual Text?”

In her post “What Does it Take to Compose and Read a Translingual Text? on the blog Sweetland Digital Rhetorical Collaborative, Milu shares a class activity in which she asks her students to engage in conversations on translingual practices. By looking at the different modes through which the hip-hop remix of the song Mama Africa is performed by Bamboo (including the use of Swahili and English), students engage in a discussion on the cultural components that the song makes references to.

How could we approach Milu’s activities from the perspectives of our Writing Program? Erika Romero and Cristina Sánchez-Martín present how they have taken up this article. This conversation attempts to illustrate divergent uptake and collaborative meaning making practices (a principle of Translingualism):

Cristina Sánchez-Martín: Students can analyze the genre of the video for the song, paying attention at how the linguistic means in the lyrics and other modes of communication (like gestures, images, music) inform each other to produce meaning.

Erika Romero: I think this could be a bigger element of the activity, since this activity has a lot of connections to the multimodal learning outcome as well. Translation as not just being between two spoken languages in the video, but how the meanings of the words are translated into visuals and become nuanced through gestures, music, etc.

Cristina: Students could engage in a discussion on cultural aspects that, from a CHAT perspective, relates to factors like socialization (what interactions does the song prompt?), reception (what’s the uptake and the trajectory of the song like?), representation (what modes and languages emerge to convey the message of the song? What are the affordances and limitations of using those modes? How do they complement each other? Do the languages and the modes used in the song fit into its audience expectations?).

Erika: I think the other CHAT elements can be discussed in connection to this, too. Production (the video is all about Africa, but was it recorded and edited and published in Africa?), Distribution (similar to my prior point), Ecology (since Africa is the videos topic and with music videos being recorded in physical spaces), and Activity (which can be applied to any text).

Cristina: Students identify what they know and don´t know about a culture in order to understand the song’s content and genre conventions. After identifying genre conventions, the interactions among languages and other modes of communication and students’ own writing researcher positions, they could produce their own translation (re-composition) of the lyrics. In the uptake genre (conceptual map, journal notes, memo), students explain the rationale behind their choices as well as their research and other aspects that might have impacted their production of the genre.

By Erika Romero and Cristina Sánchez-Martín