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Building Bridges for Multimodal Research

International Perspectives on Theories and Practices of Multimodal Analysis

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Janina Wildfeuer

While multimodality is one of the most influential semiotic theories for analysing media artefacts, the concepts of this theory are heterogeneous and widespread. The book takes the differences between approaches in Germany and those in international contexts as a starting point, offering new insights into the analysis of multimodal documents. It features contributions by researchers from more than 15 nations and various disciplines, including theoretical reflections on multimodality, thoughts about methodological, empirical, and experimental approaches as well as analyses of various multimodal artefacts.
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Issues in Multimodality: Reflecting on Definitions, Transcription, and Analysis

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1 Introduction

Multimodal inquiry is proliferating in contemporary research. Adopted in conjunction with different theoretical frameworks and integrated into various methodologies, it has filtered into studies across a range of disciplines, including education, health, psychology, media studies, and more besides, and it informs a range of scholarly concerns, such as social justice, identity, learning, globalisation, and so on. Such breadth of implementation is attestation to the suitability and usefulness of a multimodal perspective to research across a wide spectrum of investigations. Notwithstanding broadly shared commonalities, how multimodality is conceptualised and applied is heterogeneous in terms of descriptive vocabulary and implementation. Such diversification is an entirely anticipated consequence of a multiplicity of assorted academic interests. This chapter does not set out to offer any ‘right’ definitions or ‘correct’ procedures, and by no means suggests conforming to a single approach. My aim is to flag up certain fundamental issues in multimodality through reflection on some of the complexities entailed in definitions, transcription, and analysis. The chapter draws attention to various questions that arise in adopting a multimodal approach rather than offering answers, with my own position being more or less implicit.

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