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Building Bridges for Multimodal Research

International Perspectives on Theories and Practices of Multimodal Analysis


Edited By 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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Conflicts and Pictures: A Study of Images and Agonality in Discourse


1 Introduction

We live in the age of pictures (cf. Winkler 1997). We are surrounded by memes, videos, infographics, databases full of pictures, advertisements, and films wherever we go. The information we receive is in most cases multimodal: a verbal mode (whether written or spoken) and a pictorial mode are often combined. These pictures are part of and form the discourses we live in: they accompany articles about events most of us would never actually see in real life; they bring closer politicians and celebrities we would never meet otherwise, and obtain us with concrete visual associations with specific events and objects in the world.

The discourses of which the images are part may be conflictive in nature. Rather controversial issues such as assisted suicide (cf. Mattfeldt 2014), genetic engineering (cf. Freitag 2013), or violent uprisings in French suburbs (cf. Vogel 2009), for example, are discussed from various perspectives. Different opinions are voiced by different actors. Many of these issues are (in part) conveyed by the mass media (see Luhmann 2009 on the role of mass media in discourses). Media contributions are usually accompanied by pictures which may draw our attention to different aspects of the conflicts, for example by focusing on a specific actor or showing several actors as opponents. In German linguistic discourse analysis, the way in which controversial positions are negotiated is referred to as Agonalität (cf. Assmann/Assmann 1990; Felder 2006, 2012; Warnke 2009). For this paper, I will translate...

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