The talk is free and open to the public.
Co-sponsored by the Dartmouth Centers Forum and the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric
In the talk I will sketch an approach to multimodal composition which assumes that meaning comes from the social and from social interaction. That means that social conditions - including conditions of interaction - are prior in meaning-making in multimodal representational ensembles.
In the first part of the talk I will set out some of the central terms of a social semiotic multimodal theory of communication and representation. Among these will be terms such as interest, sign, sign-making, metaphor, design, mode and affordance, (multi)modal ensembles, environments of meaning-making, sites of appearance and of dissemination. These are set in a frame of four central social/evaluative terms: style, aesthetics, rhetoric and ethics.
In the second part of the talk I will show, on hand of a varied range of examples, how this approach deals with old and maybe newer issues in composition and in communication more generally.
More information about the speaker:
Gunther Kress is Professor of Semiotics and Education at the Institute for Education, London, UK. He is a world leader in the study, theorizing, and exploration of multimodality and its impact on composing, communication, meaning-making and design in an increasingly fragmented, individualized world.
Dr. Kress has a specific interest in the interrelations in contemporary texts of different modes of communication - writing, image, speech, music - and their effects on forms of learning and knowing. He is interested in the changes - and their effects and consequences - brought by the shift in the major media of communication from the page to the screen.
He suggests: “What I can offer is a particular take on certain issues in design from the perspective of (Social) Semiotics, and more specifically, from the perspective of multimodality, which deals with all the means we have for making meanings – the modes of representation - and considers their specific way of configuring the world.”
Dr. Kress is one of the members of the groundbreaking New London Group, responsible for drawing attention to multiliteracies in a changing world. This world leader considers the ways in which listening, being heard, communicating and making sense in and of the world through language and image are rapidly changing. He makes a clear case for the transformation of written communication from hierarchical and structured to relational, via webs, links, and networks.
Of his most recent work, Multimodality, one reviewer says that it “represents a paradigm shift… yet, for all its path-breaking intellectual innovation and conceptual profundity, it contains a disarmingly clear view of meaning-making, one in which human agency is at the centre.”
Another says, “He provides the framework necessary for understanding the attempt to bring all modes of meaning-making together under one unified theoretical roof.”
A brief sample of his work:
Kress, G.R. (2009). Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication. London: Routledge.
Kress, G.R. (2003). Literacy in the New Media Age. London: Routledge/Falmer.
Kress, G.R. and Theo Van Leeuwen (2002). Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication. London: Edward Arnold.
Hodge, Robert and Gunther Kress (1998). Social Semiotics. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Kress, G.R. and Theo Van Leeuwen (1996). Reading Images: The Grammar of Graphic Design. London: Routledge.
Last Updated: 2/1/11