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Segmenting: Notes from Robert Root

Robert L. Root Jr., notes from “Collage, Montage, Mosaic, Vignette, Episode, Segment”

(from 1st edition of Fourth Genre, edited by Robert Root and Michael Steinberg) and from speech at Conference on College Composition and Communication, Denver, March 2001

Examples of segmenting:

Numbered segments, each beginning with same line—incantation or prayer
Asterisks and lists of words— perhaps synonyms
A section of a poem, followed by rooms in a house
Numbered sections with vignettes each exploring subject of failure
Narration (story) / Reflection (journal) / Reference– (repeated); alternating typefaces
Voiceover commentary / personal history
Landscape/ biography / commentary
Speculation and observation about geological theory / vignettes of encounters with other hikers; also downward movement—digging through layers of time and meaning
Exposition & argument / narration & description
Motif as arrangement: example: tarot cards—each section opens with a picture of the card.
Hike / interlude / hike / interlude /hike—s piritual moment of arrival à movement of deeper into the wilderness and higher into intellectual and spiritual experiences; more hiking needed for answer
Theory / practice
Present tense/past tense
Domestic idea/foreign idea

Terms:

Shifts
Jump cuts
Juxtaposition
Cinematic force of concentrated segments
Collage
Montage—film sequence of a series of shots and images in an expressive sequence
Disjunctive
Paratactic
Segments of discourse arranged without connections or transitions
Fragmented
Moments
Periods
Polyphonic
Mosaic—associative segments to create a mood or attitude
Cumulative essay
Associative essay
Episodic sequence
Vignette
Alternating strands

Strategies:

Juxtaposition
Parallelism
Patterning
Journaling
Accumulation

Have to read the structure of the essay as well as the material in it—have to know what the space says: hold on to what you have in your head; prepare yourself for something different

From other genres:

Interrelated collection of short stories
Episodic novels
Cycles of thematically linked poems
Concept album of interlinked songs
Sequences of brief scenes in motion pictures
Triptych art pieces

 

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