What do we mean by "writing"?

We define written text as visual marks conveying meaning. Included, then, are alphabetic, verbal modes (words, paragraphs), but also numerical, graphical, figurative, visual, and embodied forms of communication. This expansive consideration of writing aligns with research into social semiotics (Kress and Bezemer 2008), multimodal discourse (Alexander and Rhodes 2014), and 21st century literacies (Yancey 2009).

We use this capacious and pluralistic definition in order to...

  • acknowledge the broad variety of textual systems and modes used within and across academic disciplines in service of meaning-making and of communicating meaning
  • signal our commitment to supporting a wide variety of context-relevant writing practices and forms of effective writing instruction as they occur within academic disciplines and University of Minnesota departments
From the Wall of Writing at the University of Minnesota.
Images from the “Wall of Discovery,” a University of Minnesota installation designed by L.A. Ink, and an assortment of writing samples collected from UMN undergraduate students.