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Building Bridges for Multimodal Research

International Perspectives on Theories and Practices of Multimodal Analysis

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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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Narrative Process Annotation of Comic Strips in Corpus Analysis

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1 Introduction: Comics and multimodality

As a multimodal narrative, meaning-making in comics depends strongly on the integration and combination of text and images (cf. Baldry/Thibault 2006: 34). Since Bateman (2011b: 17) defines the central task of multimodal research as „showing how a combination of modes expands what is possible to express beyond that possible within individual modes“, comics qualify, without doubt, as an object of interest. This can also be seen in the growing attention that comics get not only from multimodal research inspired by systemic-functional linguistics (SFL) (cf. Bateman 2014; Bateman/Wildfeuer 2014a; Bateman/Wildfeuer 2014b; Bateman et al. forthcoming), but also from comic research inspired by cognitive linguistics and psychology (cf. Cohn 2013a, 2013b, 2014). While Cohn focuses on how comics are structured and understood in people’s minds (cf. Cohn 2014), this chapter aligns with systemic-functional approaches and aims at identifying meaning-making devices with a particular focus on the ideational metafunction (cf. Halliday/Matthiessen 2014), that is, how experience is construed in comic strips.

Looking at comic strips with regard to the ideational metafunction is a rather semantic endeavour. But this kills two birds with one stone: While looking at semantic units, structural units can, and need to, be identified on the way. That is, narrative processes and their respective participants can only be identified if there are entities with which the participants can be realised with, bridging the gap between structure and meaning. Until now, there has been a rather strong focus on the...

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