Hermon Minda made her animated video-essay, “Is Veganism White?,” for a WR152 course in the spring 2019 semester. “Is Veganism White?” is the digital remediation of Hermon’s research paper, “Lack of Representation in Vegan Media and its Effect on the Obesity Rates of People of Color.”  The paper may be read in conjunction with the video-essay; Hermon provides the link with her video and encourages viewers to read it.

At three minutes and 45 seconds, Hermon’s video-essay would be an ideal pedagogical tool to teach a variety of skills. For starters, students might consider genre questions. How does Hermon “translate” the traditional academic research paper and its attendant genres into digital form? What is gained, and what is lost, with each genre? The difference in titles alone is striking. For instance, Hermon’s argument about the relationship between the perceived whiteness of veganism and obesity rates–a key claim in the paper–does not figure prominently in the video. Instructors might also zero in on Hermon’s diction and tone in the voice-over and in the abstract. How do the conventions and affordances of each genre differ, and why?

Questions of genre can lead into questions of audience (or vice-versa). Hermon’s initiating question about veganism is, basically, a question about audience and access. Hermon’s choice of the animated video format is deliberate: she wanted to reach the same publics that she describes seeking out when she decided to become vegan. For this reason, the project also dovetails nicely with Hub focus on media and digital literacy. Finally, Hermon’s argument that media organizations, non-profits like PETA, and “influencers” constitute the meaning of veganism as a kind of political philosophy rooted in a “colorblind” universalism (on the analogy of slaves with animals, ironically) is especially persuasive in this digital form, because she slows down, and talks through each of her points with care.

WR 152: Writing, Research, & Inquiry with Digital/Multimedia Expression