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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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Documentary Film as Multimodal Argumentation: Arguing Audio-Visually About the 2008 Financial Crisis


1 Introduction

In the last two decades, multimodal texts have been studied by scholars in discourse analysis as well as in rhetoric and argumentation studies. The quests of the various scholarly communities, however, have run in parallel without entering into a dialogue that could benefit both the extension of the object of analysis within argumentation studies and the methods for multimodal analysis. On the one hand, studies on multimodal analysis (cf. Bateman 2014; Jewitt 2009b) have elaborated on the meaning-making potential of a great variety of non-verbal modes but lack the concepts and tools needed for accounting for the possible argumentative functions of these modes. On the other hand, a growing number of argumentation scholars (cf. Groarke 1996; Kjeldsen 2012; Roque 2012) have begun studying discourses where the verbal mode interacts with other modes, mostly visual, but overlook or simply ignore the bulk of work carried out within multimodal analysis. Moreover, most of the studies from an argumentation perspective have focused mainly on static images, with the exceptions of Alcolea-Banegas (2009), van den Hoven (2012), van den Hoven/Yang (2013), and Kjeldsen (2013).1

Concerning the analysis of moving images, in particular, the combination of insights from rhetoric and multimodality can help account for the ways in which films argue about a position the filmmaker assumes and eventually shape public opinion besides merely seeking to inform or entertain the public. It is telling that from their side film theorists have turned into rhetoric in order...

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