The Shifting Genres of Scholarly Multimedia: Webtexts As Innovation

  • Cheryl E. Ball West Virginia University
Keywords: writing studies, rhetoric, digital publishing, webtexts, genre, metadata, web history


In this article, I discuss webtexts as a multi-genre, multi-mediated type of research publication. After briefly describing what webtexts are, how they function, what their histories have looked like, and what media have been used to design them, I examine more closely what genres have been assigned to them and how those genres have fluctuated across time. This article explores how the genres of webtexts can be difficult to stabilize due to their technological and media innovations. This lack of stability is an unsolved preservation problem that rich metadata can partially ameliorate so that readers can interpret and interact with webtexts into the future. Although there doesn’t exist any official controlled vocabulary for metadata that would apply to webtext genres, this article outlines one attempt at creating a vocabulary for webtexts and their media elements that attends to their historical and generic shifts.  

Author Biography

Cheryl E. Ball, West Virginia University
Cheryl E. Ball is associate professor of digital publishing at West Virginia University and editor of Kairos: Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy. Her research on multimodal composition, digital media publishing and editing, and university writing pedagogy can be found on her website:


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