Mask-making as identity project in a high school English class: a case study
This study reports on the composing process of one student, Peta (a pseudonym), as he reflects on a significant composition he produced during a unit on identity in a 12th-grade English class in a U. S. high school. The unit was the first thematic exploration of the year for the students and was designed to help them think about themselves as readers, writers, and individuals. The teacher's goal was to have students' engagements with literary and artistic texts serve as vehicles for developing better understandings of themselves. The study demonstrates how students' engagement with more ‘traditional’ artefacts is essentially an example of multimodality and evidences why teachers and researchers should see such work as part of the long tradition of creativity within English. It also demonstrates how such an apparently ‘traditional’ artistic approach in fact covers the same territory as that of the digital revolution, that is that multimodal ‘tools’ engage all the cultural resources of students from their domestic, community and school settings, in contrast with much typical school activity that is perceived as pointless and tedious.