Envisioning the Pechkucha

2 September 2015

ATL Digital Pedagogy Meetup

Envisioning the Pechakucha: Strategies for Invention and Revision in the Literature Classroom

In my presentation I will discuss the way I use pechakucha presentations—20×20, minimal copy, automatic scroll, slide shows—in my course on Shakespeare and the environment. For their final project, students in my class produce a scholarly webtext, which they develop independently and in a series of stages. Since the final project must be a born digital text that engages some aspect of Shakespeare and the environment, I ask students to present their project as pechakucha slide shows during their composition process. Even though many students are used to creating presentations that showcase and reflect upon completed projects, when visual presentations are used as formative tools they can become “…a site for a rough draft, shared with a real audience. Or: envisionment(Kathleen Yancy, “Made Not Only In Words” 320). I argue that using slide show presentations at the draft stage provides an opportunity for students to generate conversation and garner feedback using visual and aural rhetoric. Furthermore, requiring the pechakucha in the middle of the writing process, as opposed to the end, encourages students to compose their final projects in completely digital environments.


McKenna Rose, Bio:

I am a fifth year PhD candidate in the Department of English at Emory University, where I specialize in English Renaissance drama. My research interests include ecocriticism, deconstruction, object-oriented studies, and humanities computing. I am currently working on a dissertation provisionally titled, Hoarding the Renaissance: Life After Life on the Early English Stage. I also serve as the senior Writing Program fellow for Domain of One’s Own, a digital pedagogy program in which students are encouraged to own and administrate their own websites.


Introduction (Open to your personal site)

Thanks so much for inviting me. I’m here to talk about how I use PechaKucha presentations in my literature course as a strategy for invention and revision. Before I get to the assignment itself, I’ll briefly describe the course, and ways in which the Pechakucha assignment both helps me meet my course outcomes and solve some challenges, which are unique to ENG 210”W,” i.e. continuing writing courses at Emory.

Course Description (Open to the About page of your course site)

My course is an introduction to William Shakespeare’s plays and poems that emphasizes performance history and environmental themes to develop students’ close reading and writing skills; literary historical knowledge; and multimodal research techniques. During the semester students write and administer their own websites on which they publish required projects such as a short paper; an infographic; a digital hypertext; a Pechakucha presentations; a series of short, multimedia blog posts, and a final, scholarly web text they develop on their own. The course centers on the term globe to circumscribe the Shakespearean canon, inform textual inquiry, and compare the past with the present in an attempt to redress the current environmental crisis. We study Shakespeare’s work under dire circumstances: inescapable climate shifts, constant species extinction, relentless resource depletion, and the final adulteration of air, water, and land. Since the Anthropocene began in and around the Globe Theater, Shakespeare’s plays offer resources that can help to sustain our globe by reanimating a specifically Renaissance ethic of intimacy and nonhuman care.

Projected Learning Outcomes (Scroll down to outcomes)

My learning outcomes are Analysis, Literacy, Persuasion, Collaboration, and Imagination. I add to the skills goals, a desire on my part to have students build coursework on Shakespeare and the Environment that can make modest, but lasting contributions to both fields. Both Shakespeare and Environmental studies rely on and are enlivened by contributions by amateur or non-specialist authors. How can individual sites and modal writing work create lasting contributions?

Addressing Challenges (Click on the Major Authors link to the course atlas)

So the course I am teaching is a 200 level continuing writing course. At Emory all undergrads have to take three continuing writing courses to graduate, so what that means is that students at levels enroll in courses marked “W” at any time during their graduate careers. I have an almost equal distribution of students at all course levels in my current course.

Solutions (Click on your Assignment Page)

The Domain project, in general, and the scholarly multimedia assignment, in particular, helps me keep seniors, who are about to graduate engaged without leaving first years behind. I assign a scholarly webtext, so that students at all skill levels can guide their level of inquiry and I can tailor assessment to fit the final projects. In “Assessing scholarly multimedia: A rhetorical genre studies approach,” Cheryl Ball defines webtexts as, “Scholarly multimedia…article- or book length, digital pieces of scholarship designed using multimodal elements to enact authors’ arguments. They incorporate interactivity, digital media, and different argumentation strategies…” (62).  A webtext cannot be translated to a hard copy without significant meaning loss. The webtext she asks her students to author are born digital because as Ball explains, “If you start with Word, you’ll end with word” (72). In order for students to “enact their arguments” in their designs, she asks them to “think of a visual metaphor for their arguments” (72).

Pechakucha (Open the Presentation Assignment)

To draft and present the guiding argument or theme of their final project as a “visual argument,” I require all the students to perform a Pechakucha during the draft phase. Pechakucha presentations are slideshows, comprised of 20, minimal copy, slides set to scroll automatically after 20 seconds. The presenter synchs her memorized, verbal presentation with the scrolling slides. Pechakucha presentations were developed by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture, because “architects talk too much! Give a microphone and some images to an architect — or most creative people for that matter — and they’ll go on forever! Give PowerPoint to anyone else and they have the same problem” (par 3). I have required Pechakucha presentations in the past and I discovered that not only do they keep students focused on their topic, they work well a stage in writing process.

Play example of Pechkucha

Conclusion (scroll down to final portion of assignment page)

Though many students are used to creating presentations that showcase and reflect upon completed projects, when visual presentations are used as formative tools they can become, as Kathleen Yancy argues in “Made Not Only In Words, “…a site for a rough draft, shared with a real audience. Or: envisionment(320). Pechakucha presentations at the draft stage provide an opportunity for students to generate conversation and garner feedback using visual and aural rhetoric. Not only does the presentation style engage audiences, encourage feedback, but also students can revising other projects into the presentation. Then because the presentations ask students to organize their projects according to a visual metaphor, it seems like a great tool to help draft final projects.

Sources Cited

Ball, Cheryl. Ball, Cheryl E. “Assessing scholarly multimedia: A rhetorical genre studies approach.” Technical Communication Quarterly 21.1 (2012): 61-77.

Yancy, Kathleen. “Made Not Only in Words: Composition in a New Key.” CCC 56.2 (2004): 297-328).


“Twenty Fourteen”  was cited as an example of a successful website during Domain 101 introductory activities. Since Twenty Fourteen is also the current WP default theme, let’s install that theme and test its usability.

To begin to install or change a theme, go to your dashboard and hover over “Appearance” and the slide over to “Themes,” as shown below:

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Once in “Themes,” click on “Add New,” or if you know the title, use the search window:

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The “Add New” page gives you a choice among “Featured, Popular, and Latest” themes. If working through this process with students, you may want to talk about ways trends shape shape content and use. May also want to talk about the every changing nature of web writing and best practices for staying adaptive.

NOTE: all themes allow users to preview them before installation:

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To instal, click on “Install”

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When you view your new pages in the new theme, don’t panic. You’ll have to customize the new theme.

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For example, for the new theme to recognize the menus you’ve already configured, you’ll need to drag your cursor to “Appearance,” and then over to “Menus.” Scroll down and check the box next to “Top primary menu” and save changes.

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OR, you can configure the top menu from “Customize.” Drag cursor to “Appearance” and the over to “Customize.” Under “Navigation” you’ll find two drop down menus that will allow you to assign a “Top primary menu” and a “Secondary menu in the sidebar.”

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Once you’ve adjusted the menu’s to your specifications, you can add and organize pages; begin building your media library; and publishing blog posts.

Remember that no matter what theme you choose, administering menus, pages, posts, etc. will always remain the same in the WP dashboard. See the tutorial video for reassigning a post page to a static page, and check back for more in-depth WP and RH theme, app, and design tutorials.



Translation Project

What can/should your translation project look like on your site’s static page? What’s the best way to deliver the information to your readers? ((In-class activity for Bellee Jones ENG 205 course. Attached to Translation Project))

To determine, layout, design, usability, may want to ask and answer, “what elements constitute a successful medieval subjects (poetry) site?”

And/or check out design suggestions such as those included in the following:

Practical Design Suggestions

What elements constitute a successful (M/EM Poetry) site?

  • How far down do you want audience to scroll?
  • What do work do you want images to perform?
  • How can you ensure links always work?
  • Do you need to provide navigation directions?
  • How much information do readers need to transition smoothly from page to page?

To determine features that constitute a successful site, generate some examples. What are some outstanding features of the sites below?

What elements do want to incorporate in your page? For instance, how do you create a usable page?

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Working Examples

Tempest 1.1

Tempest 1.2

Tempest 4.1

Elements of Style: Poem & Page (or translating your translation from paper to WP)

  • Whose the audience for the paper translation? Whose the audience for the digital translation? What’s gained in translation & what’s lost?
  • How does the audience you chose for the translation determine the choices you make, ex: how does your audience determine emphasizing rhyme over meter?
  • In addition, faithfulness versus transparency?
  • How do similar audience concerns influence design choices? What elements should you emphasize?
  • Even though it may seem transparent, what rhetorical gestures does your final layout make?
  • How does theme you selected effect useability, affect, reading of your translation?

Notation: The links you provide act as notation, but you may also want to consider installing a footnote plug-in. I’m using Footnotes by ManFisher, which seems fine. We can review installation and use if you like. Lots of footnote generator plug-ins.

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CRAP & An Inconvenient Truth

An Inconvenient Truth

While we watch the clip from the movie, please be mindful of the following:

  • Contrast: What contrasts in color, shape, tone, shade, etc. do the authors establish? What is the quality of such emphasis?
  • Repetition: What visual elements reoccur? How does the repetition of visual elements unify or create coherence?
  • Alignment: How do the visual elements line up along vertical and horizontal axis? How does the alignment tie the elements together?
  • Proximity: Discuss some distances between elements in the composition: How does distance among like and unlike elements produce meaning?