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introduction to digital image remix & appropriation

How might you use digital image remix and appropriation in an English class?

Or, perhaps, first, how can you work with digital images?

While Photoshop isn’t the only program you can use, it is on the CRT 108 laptops, as well as on lab computers across campus. If you or your students are interested in alternative and open source options, the Wikipedia comparison of raster graphics editors compares an overwhelming number of options. One popular free software alternative is GIMP.

Here are a few resources for those working in Photoshop:

  • Photoshop selection tools introduction (PDF) (tutorial from Anne Wysocki at the 3/6/09 workshop)
  • The University of Kansas’ technology documentation website has three Photoshop tutorials (scroll down). (Note that these tutorials are for CS2, and we’re working in CS3. In general, the principles are similar, even if buttons and menus have shifted a bit.)
  • A pretty extensive and advanced list of tutorials from Smashing Magazine

I should also note that I’ve had pretty good luck with the help menu and link, as well as with simply typing things like “working with layers in Photoshop” into a Google search. (It’s not the fastest or smartest way to find an answer, but it’s consistently worked.)

So once you and your students are familiar with digital image manipulation software, what’s next?

Courses & Syllabi

(note: these are not necessarily particular to English/the humanities but provide all kinds of interesting takes on image remix & appropriation)

Amerika, Mark. Remix Culture (Fa 08), University of Colorado-Boulder.

Dillon, Grace L. Popular Culture (Winter 07), Portland State University.

FURI (Fair Use Remix Institute)

Rock, Joellyn. Digital Methods in Art Education (Fa 08), University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Sinnreich, Aram. Media, Culture & Communication (PDF) (Fa 08), NYU Steinhardt School of Media, Culture, and Communication.

Tribe, Mark. Open Source Culture: Art, Technology, Intellectual Property (Sp 07; Sp 08), Brown University Wiki.

VJ-U. (Video Jockey Wikiversity site – a stretch from Photoshop, but video is one direction remix & appropriation can go.)

Articles & Essays

Delagrange, Susan H. “Wunderkammer, Cornell, and the Visual Canon of Arrangement.” Kairos 13.2

Hanke, Bob. “For a Political Economy of Indymedia Practice.” Canadian Journal of Communication 30.1

Prelinger, Rick. “Remarks on Appropriation Art.”

Ridolfo, Jim and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss. “Composing for Recomposition: Rhetorical Velocity and Delivery.” Kairos 13.2


Knobel, Michelle and Colin Lankshear. “Digital Remix: The Art and Craft of Endless Hybridization.” Keynote presented to the International Reading Association (2007)

Examples of remix

Adbusters is an often-used example of the commentary you can do with remix and appropriation.

English Downfall.” Kairos 13.2

Red Labor

Additional Resources

(these are the university and personal webpages of scholars working in and around this area)

George, Diana. (works in rhetoric & writing. see Teaching section in particular.)

Lamontagne, Valérie. (works in art/technology/design. see Teaching section.)

Selber, Stuart. (works in composition & rhetoric, technical communication. see Downloads section in particular.)

Shipka, Jody. (works in composition & rhetoric, communication & technology. links to personal website.)


Creative Commons

remix my lit. (literary, not image, mixes and mash-ups.)

Remix Theory. (a site run by Eduardo Navas.)

Teaching Copyright (a project by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, aimed toward middle and high schoolers)

Finally, it bears noting that there are a lot more resources out there — please feel free to share suggestions via comments and email.

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