Refiguring Citation

This video was created for the 2016 Modern Language Association Convention, where it was performed as part of a panel on new practices for citation. A partial audio track was recorded, and then the narrator spoke over that track for the academic presentation. Afterwards, a final narrative track was recorded for the version included here.

This piece shows a number of videos in which students reflect on their use of materials in multimedia projects. These reflections include screen capturings of websites and media projects. The video also shows quotations from scholarly articles and materials hosted by YouTube, including excerpts from a video produced by YouTube on fair use practices. The narrative track guides the viewers through these materials.


00:00 The video opens with a title on screen: "(Re)Figuring Citation: Metaphors, Performance, and Transformative Use / Daniel Anderson @iamdan."

00:05 A web page with an embedded video appears on screen. The narrator speaks: "The video on screen captures YouTube's content blocking system. I decided to include this because it happens all the time."

00:15 A title appears on screen: "First Metaphor: Private Property." The title fades out and the video hosted by YouTube reappears. The play button is selected and a message appears: "This video contains content from Warner Bros. Entertainment, who has blocked it on copyright grounds." The narrator continues: "We aim for fair use, and it's frustrating when a video—one crafted to evoke a feeling or convey a message, one that makes transformative use of materials, one that represents a good deal of creative investment—is blocked algorithmically by YouTube."

00:30 A detailed discussion posting remarking on the YouTube infringement algorithm fills the screen: "I'm not ranting about my videos being removed. I'm just surprised how effective the content censor is. I'm wondering how the algorithm correctly identifies the song as infringing copyright even after all my efforts to circumvent it." The narrator continues: "The algorithm, it turns out, is very good at identifying the materials in a video."

00:40 A student video reflection appears on screen. It shows a video poem that features imagery of fishing. The student author narrates: "So that segment with the damselflies and the small blue winged olives, I thought that was . . . a really, really good segment to put in because, you know, these bugs, on the river, these insects, have such a finite life period. You know, they're born in the water and they are literally swept up by the current. And they spend their days free-falling down the river, with no control over their path."

01:20 On screen, a cursor has been typing in a Sticky Note window to compose a quotation: "Writers commonly focused on . . . between 3 and 13 [criteria] when accounting for their citing decisions. . . . Different authors had different priorities, and one of the distinctions . . . was the authors' identification with the 'researcher' or 'teacher' role (Harwood 499)." On screen, the student video reflection plays and the student narration continues: "And in a lot of ways, that's kind of how we feel as humans. But something that this sport provides us, that fishing provides us, that feeling of stableness and control, and being at peace. And so these bugs, they get above water for a few days and they lay their eggs, and they come back down and they die. And it's a short existence, but they play this incredibly important role in the ecosystem of the river. And in that way, so do we as people."

02:00 On screen, a cursor has been typing on a translucent background to compose a quotation: "Citation is a private and subjective process, and motivations/functions cannot straightforwardly be read off by the textual analyst, however specialized his/her knowledge (Harwood 497)."

02:02 A title appears on screen: "Second Metaphor: Favorites." The title fades out and the browser with the YouTube website appears. The phrase, "hd nature footage," is entered in the YouTube search field, and various videos are selected. The narrator continues: "The narration about the damselfly comes from Thompson Long. I picked that clip because the voice really pulled me in and it speaks to what Nigel Harwood identifies as 'decision-making criteria behind citation'—like crediting, supporting, and engaging."

02:23 On screen, a new student video reflection (by Kaitlyn)—capturing the act of composition using a video editor—is playing. It shows nature imagery that is part of a video poem and textual comments by the student that include the phrase "Here are some of my favorites!" The narrator continues: "And Thompson's video extends these with a personal connection to fishing. Thompson is teaching as he discusses his video sources. The discussion of the sources creates a layer that operates on a meta level to those found in the composing space of the video editor, a layer to which has been applied an educational transformation. The YouTube algorithm—to my knowledge—doesn't check for that."

02:49 On screen, the student video reflection plays, with commentary or citation information appearing in a text box obscuring the bottom left of the video editor. The narrator continues: "And why should it? That's something produced through exchange. Reading is not a disenchanted parsing of a fixed, original text. It's a prosumer process, where we copy to view and perform to read. And that's not to say the algorithm is unhelpful. In fact, it's the kind of thing that might transform the way we work with sources. We can filter, sort, list, even cite with the machine as we turn toward the thoughts and feelings associated with the materials. Why not a metacontainer for personal meaning?"

03:24 On screen, a student reflection appears, showing a number of web screens, including a March Madness bracket and a Facebook posting. The student narrator (Smriti) begins speaking: "So I actually first heard this poem through a contest that my tenth-grade class held. And the poem that won was 'I Wondered as Lonely as a Cloud.' And I remember each day we heard the poem, it was recited by my good friend, Heather. This is Heather right here. And just the way she spoke, the way she portrayed this poem, if I were to imagine a daffodil as a person it would definitely be Heather."

03:53 On screen, a new student reflection appears, showing a video composing program. The student narrator (Emily) speaks: "This video was filmed in Australia, which is where I was born, so right off the bat I felt an emotional connection to this piece. Throughout a lot of the video you can see the drone that's carrying the camera, so I had to find a segment that didn't show the drone so that it would not interfere with the theme of birds and being free. Something about the drone being visible in the shot took away from the symbolic meaning of the poem. I also just couldn't believe how high up the drone could fly and the beautiful sights it captured. I felt like this video perfectly captured the sentiment I was going for, of feeling liberated, because of the gradual rise of the camera and how it looked down on the earth below. In this instance, I don't feel like my use of the artist's work devalued theirs. Hopefully, this is another case of enhancing the value of another artist's work, and using the concept of intertextuality to create something new and beautiful."

04:56 A white screen appears and the cursor begins to type across the top. The narrator continues: "The clips we just watched all required decisions about materials. I like that Kaitlyn 'gave nods' to her favorite movies. And I chose that clip, because it uses text callouts to discuss its materials. The lack of sound in the clip allowed me to engage with Thompson's video and speaks to the challenges of managing attention. Too much typing and noise at the same time, and it's hard to focus."

05:25 On screen, the cursor has typed out a quotation: "Digital craft criticism imagines what choices made at the material level contribute not only to the interpretation of the text that requires reading, watching and listening, but, more important, the limits and horizons that particular material conditions in digital environments make possible for imaginative texts (Koehler 395)." The narrator continues: "I like that Smriti chose her subject based on a happy memory of her good friend. And I like the way Emily points toward her personal connection with a video from Australia and guides us through the difficulties (and rewards) that came from working with the clip. And I like how Emily's discussion calls for new approaches when it comes to citation of time-based materials. Her discussion of the changing camera height and an emerging sense of freedom makes me wonder how to link such insights to a citational reference. And I wonder about the affordances of multimedia, as Emily unpacks the clip, bringing words back to the citational video even as they reveal the abstract and ambiguous richness—and limitations—of the moving visuals beneath."

06:12 A title appears on screen: "Third Metaphor: Listening." On screen, a new student video reflection appears, showing multiple web tabs and including narration by the student author: "I came across this and I said, you know, this is promising, make your own lanyard. And it wasn't exactly what I wanted but it did have a song that I decided I fell in love with."

06:27 In the student video reflection, the opening of the song "Thieves and Kings" begins to play. On screen, a cursor typing in a callout box has composed a quotation: "Advocating a context-is-the-new-content approach to the understanding of creative writing, Goldsmith proposes what he calls uncreative writing: 'focused on . . . "manipulation" and "management" of the heaps of already existent and ever-increasing language'" (Koehler 390). The narration of the student author continues: "So obviously this wasn't a very good video PSA, but I loved the song. So I decided to rip this video and I used the song for my e-poem."

06:48 The callout fades out and a new student reflection appears. It shows a video hosted by YouTube titled "Brian Eno—The Big Ship—DOTS Extended Edit." The student author narrates: "So whenever I hear this piece of music I imagine all the millions of people in the world all kind of focused in on their own complicated lives but still somehow connected. I found this to be a really powerful feeling, but I wasn't sure I would be able to find a poem that communicated the same ideas. So, as silly as it sounds, I ended up googling 'poetry about the vivid complexity of life' and found exactly what I was looking for."

07:20 A title appears on screen: "Fourth Metaphor: Mixing." The title fades out and a cursor begins typing on screen. The narrator continues: "I'd like to add a category to our citational metadata: 'suggested musical accompaniment.' Those clips are just two of many discussing musical choices. And each reveals how an association adds nuance to a source. And we can make those associations on multiple levels: from the information-based, machine-generated to the conceptual, human-created; from file names, timestamps, and edition numbers to whatever we might think to link up and assign—music, meanings, meanderings." On screen, the cursor has completed typing out a quotation: "When composers use multiple modes as tools for thinking rather than just to visually illustrate a completed script, they actually generate new meaning. Creation of a digital video then can become much more than an act of 'translation' or transcription. . . . Compositing and new recursivity . . . are also critical cognitive experiences. . . . (Fulwiler and Middleton 44)."

08:04 A new student reflection appears on screen. It alternates between a view of a video editor and close-up imagery of clouds. It includes narration by the student author: "I searched high and low for the obvious footage: some clouds. This is when I had a little breakthrough in regards to the meaning of the poem. It's a very outside/in type of work, using the analogy of a fishing trip on the scale of the whole world. Sometimes you're a fisherman; you're in control and you see everything clearly. Other times, you're the fish. I tried to incorporate this dual nature into my e-poem, and I began by using a clip that makes the viewer seem powerful, as if the whole world is in his or her hands. This series of first clips open the video in a strong way, immediately alerting the viewer that there is something really weighty and significant discussed in this poem."

08:40 A new student reflection appears on screen, also featuring a video editor and narration by the student author: "So the next stanza here begins with a change in speakers, so now the mirror is a lake, and I picked a droplet of water that I slowed down to be the background for these words. And, as the words 'a woman bends over me' fade in, so does a clip of a woman who barely, slowly begins to open her eyes. And I scaled the clip of the woman and placed her so that the water droplet is right on her eye, and as it drops, her eye opens. So, um, let's see. I can show right here as it hits, her eyes open up with the ripple."

09:24 A new student reflection appears, likewise showing a video editor and including narration: "I added in this clip of the bird chirping. And then at the end I added the other clip of a bird chirping, after the music had faded out. So it's a completely different song; it's not created by a human. It's the song that he is referring to, which is the bird."

09:54 A title appears on screen: "Last Metaphor: Resistance." A cursor appears on screen and begins typing. The narrator continues: "These videos reveal the rich metadata that comes from capturing decision-making about sources. Amy shows how spending time with materials yields insights. Nicole links clips to composing decisions. Hannah points toward the relationship between humans and nonhumans. And all of the videos demonstrate the transformational possibilities of working with mixings of materials. So what does this mean as we move citation into the digital age?" On screen, the cursor has completed typing out a quotation: "Only the humanities and social science articles . . . contained reporting verbs characterizing the source as unreliable (e.g., fail, overlook, exaggerate, or ignore). This is attributed to the 'more disputational style of argument' (p. 362) found in the soft knowledge fields (Harwood 500)."

10:30 The quotation fades out and a cursor appears on screen and begins typing. The narrator continues: "Citations have the potential for transforming or reinscribing values. Harwood found motivations for citations were more confrontational in the humanities. Fulwiler and Middleton note the hold that old logics have upon new media, recasting potential disruptions within linear paradigms. Intellectual cut-throating and values linked to fixed, linear logics: Pass. Perhaps if working with rich mixings of materials holds promise, reworking those workings with meta-level, process-oriented citations and responses can move us toward further transformations."

11:09 On screen, the cursor has completed typing out a quotation: "The current model of digital video composing as a sequential series of temporally-discrete steps is predicated on the logic of old media and, thus, may no longer be sufficient to account for the new media composing processes that emerge with new media interfaces (Fulwiler and Middleton 40)."

11:11 The quotation fades out and a new student video reflection appears on screen. It shows a project in a video editor and includes narration by the student author: "I found this video on Vimeo and it's from Matt Wood. And I found the visual aspect of this video to be extremely compelling because you get to see a bird flying in slow motion, which is not something you see every day. It's also interesting that the bird flies so close to the ground and seems to stay in place for a long time. This video made me think of Dickinson's first stanza, that describes a feeling of being trapped and almost passive. I did feel a sense of guilt in borrowing this cinematographer's work without permission. The work is absolutely stunning, and I felt like not enough credit was given to him. However, I do not feel like my incorporation of his work devalues it, which is a principle of 'fair use.' I also feel like incorporating his work enhanced the meaning of the Dickinson poem, which vibes with the concept of 'intertextuality': that all texts have a relationship to each other in some way."

12:12 The student video reflection fades out and a cursor appears on screen and begins typing. The narrator continues: "I put more of Emily's video in the presentation because she is thinking deeply about use decisions. So much of her commentary offers the rich, human-oriented metadata that might build upon traditional or informational citation. In this way, the expansion and liberation she describes in her materials become a mode of resistance through creativity, through pushing writing in the digital age. To evaluate the power of such pushing, consider one final reference to YouTube: a video entitled 'YouTube copyright school.'" On screen, the cursor has completed typing a quotation: "Craft criticism . . . foregrounds textual production while backgrounding textual interpretation. . . . Craft criticism uses methods of production to examine the ways imaginative literature operates—and how it can help its authors and audience members engage critically with the cultural environment that surrounds them (Koehler 381–382)."

12:48 On screen, the quotation fades out and an excerpt from the video "YouTube Copyright School" appears. The video contains animated characters and the following narration: "Oh, Russell, your use of Lumpy's content is clever, but did you get permission for it? Mashups or remixes of content may also require permission from the original copyright owner, depending on whether or not the use is a 'fair use.'"

13:02 On screen, in the excerpt from the "YouTube Copyright School" video, a callout appears with a cursor typing. In the video clip, the tempo of the speech increases drastically, pharmaceutical-commercial style, as the narration continues: "In the United States, copyright allows for the fair use of copyrighted material under certain limited circumstances without prior permission from the owner. Under the law, determinations of fair use take into account the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the work used in relation to the work as a whole, and the effect of the use upon the potential market for the copyrighted work. Other jurisdictions may have similar copyright provisions protecting fair use or fair dealing. If you are uncertain as to whether a specific use qualifies as a fair use, you should consult a qualified copyright attorney."

13:24 On screen, the excerpt from "YouTube Copyright School" fades out and a close-up of a bird in flight from a student video project appears. The narrator speaks with an extremely fast pace: "I decided to use the excerpt from YouTube copyright school. . . ."

13:28 The narrator continues at a normal pace: "because it's so rich with irony. Listen to the clip and you hear an example of how not to use multimedia. Too much typing and noise, and it's hard to focus. The pacing of the typed display, the pharmaceutical disclaimer voiceover, the banging and clanging all combine to say, pay no attention to the way you use the materials of others. In fact, don't even try it. How to respond?"

13:59 On screen, a student video poem plays, accompanied by the song "Head Full of Doubt" by the Avett Brothers. The video shows flocks of birds and single birds flying. The singer sings: "There was a dream and one day I could see it / Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it / And there was a kid with a head full of doubt / So I'll scream 'til I die and the last of those bad thoughts are finally out."

14:24 The music fades out. On screen, a list of works cited scrolls. The video ends.

The bulk of this piece is made up of student videos. These videos use screen recording to capture aspects of class projects. They also include reflections by the students that provide both source information and insights into decisions made while composing. The reflections bring to the surface concerns related to the use of materials in media projects.

A video produced by YouTube called "YouTube Copyright School" is also excerpted. Refiguring Citation also includes images scanned from the MLA Handbook for documenting citations. The video also provides textual callouts or on-screen typing with quotations. Excerpts speak to citation practices in terms of digital composing.


Barthes, Roland. S/Z: An Essay. Translated by Richard Miller. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1974.

Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema 2: The Time Image. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta. London: Athlone Press, 1989.

"Dickinson E-Poem Revision and Citation Video." Vimeo, uploaded by Emily Shepherd, April 5, 2016,

"Dream Fishing Walkthrough." YouTube, uploaded by Amy Elmers, March 11, 2016,

"E-Poem Walkthrough." YouTube, uploaded by Smriti Singh, March 6, 2016,

"E-poem Walkthrough ('A Minor Bird' by Robert Frost)." Vimeo, uploaded by Hannah Lincoln, March 29, 2016,

Eyman, Douglas. Digital Rhetoric: Theory, Method, Practice. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2015.

Fulwiler, Megan, and Kim Middleton. "After Digital Storytelling: Video Composing in the New Media Age." Computers and Composition 29, no. 1 (2012): 39–50.

Green, Kaitlyn. "E-Poem Walkthrough." YouTube, uploaded by kgtarheel [Kaitlyn Green], March 6, 2016,

Harwood, Nigel. "An Interview-Based Study of the Functions of Citations in Academic Writing across Two Disciplines." Journal of Pragmatics 41, no. 3 (2009): 497–518.

Howard, Rebecca Moore [rmoorehoward]. "Why This Humanist Codes: A Genealogy of the Citation Project." Chenango Metonymy,

Howe, Jeff. Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business . New York: Three Rivers, 2009.

Koehler, Adam. "Digitizing Craft: Creative Writing Studies and New Media: A Proposal." College English 75, no. 4 (2013): 379–95.

Lessig, Lawrence. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 2008.

Long, Thompson. "Walkthroughfinal." YouTube, uploaded by Nicholas, March 31, 2016,

"Mirror Walkthrough." YouTube, uploaded by Nicole Bassil, March 6, 2016,

MLA Handbook (8th Edition) . New York: Modern Language Association, 2016.

"Rowing Boat." Freesound, uploaded by WIM, May 10, 2006,

"Small Bird Singing in the Woods." Freesound, uploaded by Justkidink, August 6, 2010,

"Video Walkthrough." YouTube, uploaded by Emily Danes, March 6, 2016,

"YouTube Content Identification Technology." Stack Overflow, comment posted by Jason Gin, March 16, 2009,

"YouTube Copyright School." YouTube, uploaded by YouTube Spotlight, March 24, 2011,


In 2016, the Modern Language Association released an updated version of its handbook for source documentation style. For years, citing sources was often cast as mechanical, and handbooks primarily provided instructions for documenting and formatting references. The new version asked writers to extend those aims to address emerging media, focusing on essential traits of materials like titles, authors, and dates, and then determining how to provide that information in ways useful to readers. In this way, the handbook asked writers to become agile, knowing that "a work in a new medium thus can be documented without new instructions" (3). The professional organization for language and literature had embraced networked and digital writing.

Composing for the screen bridges familiar and emerging practices as we trace the materials we bring into projects. On one end of a continuum, citations are evidential records of sources—works cited. On another end, they are markers and composited layers of shared materials, contexts, even ideas. As writers work with images, sounds, and words, distinctions between excerpt and citation, original and copy, or source and remix break down and become fluid. Doug Eyman suggests that we view these fluid boundaries in terms of circulation ecosystems that we find "in the use, remix, and appropriation of digital texts" (86). The challenge is making sense of these circulations. The videos in Refiguring Citation represent one way of exploring these shifting boundaries through the reflections of student composers. As Eyman reminds us, "The energy that drives this circulation comes from the rhetorical activity of digital bricoleurs" (86).

The primary materials are student projects that turn video production on itself, capturing the screen to add a layer reflecting on poetry projects from an earlier assignment. At 03:58, an excerpt from a student citation video appears. On screen, a callout lists the source of an item used in the student's video poem: "Simon Jardin. 'Flying like a bird.'" In the audio track from the citation video, the student narrator (Emily Shepherd) speaks: "This video was filmed in Australia, which is where I was born, so right off the bat I felt an emotional connection to this piece." Eyman says that when digitally mixing we find "energy flows" (86). The audiovisual format of the reflection records these experiences and energies. Shepherd tells us that the drone clip "perfectly captured the sentiment I was going for, of feeling liberated, because of the gradual rise of the camera and how it looked down on the earth below," linking citation with motivations and feelings.

screenshot of Refiguring Citation video

Screen composing calls for not only decisions about intellectual property but also thinking about how meaning is created by mixing materials.

Citation videos push past behaviors built on print. The expectations that govern the use of materials for print "we all take for granted," Lawrence Lessig explains. How they apply to media is an open question, with one possible response resulting in "the norms of 'quote freely, with attribution' spread from text to music and film" (55). Lessig offers a legal or ethical frame for extending use boundaries from print to media. This extension recasts something like "the right to quote" (55). Still, there are material differences between print and screen composing. Quotation behaviors, when translated to images and sound, become looping, layering, and remixing. These shifts and disruptions are not new. Gilles Deleuze traces similar changes to the integration of sound into cinema. Citing Jean-Luc Godard, he notes that adding sound does not create a new, separate layer to accompany images; rather, it alters the nature of images themselves as "mixing ousts montage, it being understood that mixing does not just consist of a distribution of the different sound elements, but the allocation of their differential relations with the visual elements" (175). Screen composing offers a merging that alters the meaning of materials. The norms for working with images, sounds, and words extend quotation and citation to something better understood in terms of transformation.

Remixing in multimedia is complicated, because even images are themselves amalgams of visual, sonic, verbal, and time-based activity. This modality moves decision-making into boundary spaces. As Deleuze puts it, "the interaction of two images engenders or traces a frontier which belongs to neither one nor the other" (175). With screen composing, like the cinema Deleuze imagines, even a move as simple as integrating a clip into a video becomes layered and calls for recasting citation as a kind of tracing of movements among materials (both within and without the video).

These movements present writers with questions of authority and ethics. Digital craft criticism, Adam Koehler suggests, requires imagining a new ethos that enables "authors to experiment with the different kinds of author/ity that emerge when hybridizing and modifying genres" (392). This ethos might deploy approaches that Deleuze links with cinema and that imply "a new conception of cutting, a whole 'pedagogy' which will operate in different ways" (22). A pedagogy for screen composing emerges through transformation and hybrid combinations where we find "questioning, responding, objecting, provoking, theorematizing, hypothesizing, experimenting" (22). In terms of rethinking citation practices, the student videos share some of the decision-making that emerges in these spaces.