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Multimodal Discourse Analysis

A presentation for ENG/LIN 7770

Joe Paszek

on 18 November 2011

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Transcript of Multimodal Discourse Analysis

What is Multimodal
Discourse Analysis? Example 1: Sigrid Norris'
"Some Thoughts on Personal Identity Construction: A Multimodal Perspective"
Example 2: Jewitt and Jones'
"Multimodal Discourse Analysis: the Case of 'Ability' in UK Secondary School English" How We Bring them Together, Similarities and Processes Food for thought Multimodal Discourse Analysis (MmDA) "holds that meanings
are created in texts and interactions in a complex interplay
of semiosis across multiple modes which include but are
not limited to written and spoken language" (loc. 3490-3514). As we discuss through the two provided
examples from Norris and Jewitt/Jones these
semiotic modes must include gesture, body positioning, and object placement. Essentially, the decentralization of language is key to MmDA. Those working
with other methods of
discourse analysis
may notice overlapping
styles and preoccupations
as MmDA borrows from (and in turn influences) a variety disiplines and practices. Ethnography Sociology Anthropology psychiatry Sigrid Norris' article addresses MmDA in relation to the constantly changing modes of personal identity construction. Using theoretical frameworks from psychoanalysis and identity theory, specifically Margaret Mead's differentiation between "me" and "I" (1974), Norris fuses together discourse analysis with discussions on subjectivity and selfhood in order to advance our understanding of how we encounter and interact with other "social agents" in the world around us. Much research has been done on this
topic from a number of different vantage
points that range from micro-discursive
constructions (pronoun usage) to socio-historical
and psychologically inflected identity practices. What Norris claims is that, despite these differing methodological approaches, much of the scholarship in DA has problematically privelaged written and spoken language. Little attention has been paid to the bodily influences on discursive identity construction. She writes: "Language is automatically assigned supremacy over other modes, leading analysts to analyse conversations as focused interactions ... Thus, my argument is that when we view language unquestioned as the primary mode of communication for identity construction, we may in fact assign too much value to what is being said or written and therefore analyse identity in quite obscured ways" (loc. 3595-621). Simply put, we need to pay attention to the gestural-haptic modes of communication, i.e. body positioning, tones, head movements, hand gestures, etc. as equally constructing personal identities. Yet this is not to say that identity is formed into a cohesive totality. Norris actively resists against the permanent construction of identity even if socially and historically constructed. Rather, her chapter explores the negotiation between Mead's definition of two seemingly dialectical subjectivities: the "I" and the "me." To do this, Norris (ethonographically) analyses
an interaction between two women, Lucy and Tanya. In the half-hour video reel, Norris micro-analyzes the countenances of each woman, claiming that small changes in body language, voice level, and gesture indicates a shift in identity elements (or more specifically, a movement backwards and forwards of different modes of being that are dialectically negotied via context and interaction). KEY TERM time! For Mead, and thusly Norris,
the "me" and the "I" are two different subjective entities
working together to negotiate how we interact with
other social agents. Norris reflects on Mead's distinction, positing that "the 'I' gives a sense of freedom, of initiative. The situation is there for me to act - in a self-conscious fashion. We are aware of ourselves, and of what the situation is, but exactly how we will act never gets into experience until after the action takes place" (loc. 3718-30). Simply put,
the I does not experience things
the same way that the me does. The "me"(s) are the identity elements inscribed in the "historical body" that are assembled via experiences with external social agents that are summoned forth from the "mind" in order to appropriately represent "I" in any given social interaction. For example: Even when we are working together with our friends on a classroom or work project we have to negotiate a variety of identity relationships in that particular situation. We bring forth various identity elements from our past in which we performed as "friend" as well as when we have performed as "co-worker" in order to negotiate a workable "I" subjecthood. This "co-worker" identity would be vastly different if we were to be put in a group with, for instance, Ellen! Both our bodies (in gesture and disposition) and language (grammar, slang, etc) would be constructed differently because the assembled identity "I" would be a congolmeration of previously held social identities in our interactions with Ellen (i.e. as teacher, director, etc). What are the implications??? The Discourse of Ability According to the authors, the discourse of ability is "reproduced silently." The goal of this execution of MmDA is to "de-naturalize the realization of ability (149). Through an examination of various modes (gesture, body positioning, etc) the authors realized a "quite distinct discourse" between the two groups examined in the study.
According to the authors, "ability" is produced by the interactions between students and teachers - constructed by the social interactions of the classroom and may not be "stable beyond it" (149). Theoretical Framework? o_O Intersetingly enough, Jewitt and Jones do not claim a theoretical framework but rather suggest that their framework is the data itself. Furthermore, the authors have a notable take on the use of theory and its application to their data. The rules are as follows:
1) Theoretical concepts shall not be "mapped" onto data.
2) Theoretical concepts will not be "matched" to data.
3) Theoretical concepts will not be "found" within the data.

Instead, the framework of the data will be TRACED along the lines of the different theoretical concepts introduced by the authors.

Jewitt and Jones do utilize social theories of discourse and the production of knowledge in order to help explain social relations in the classroom setting. Methodological framework Here, we're dealing with multi-modal discourse analysis. Both chapters approach MmDA a tad differently. Chapter 10 displays the use of the approach with seldom references to the benefits of MmDA. Key concepts In Chapter 10, Jewitt and Jones are concerned with the discourse of
ability which they describe as an issue of policy and politics. The
discourse of ability also falls more specifically into the camp of a
discourse of power.
Other terms of interest include:
* gaze
* movement
* body posture
* gesture
* object placement Background info and Data In Chapter 10, the authors mention only one other study - the larger research study from which their case study is drawn. The data is collected via video camera. Various questions: rapid responses Since these chapters deal with multimodal analysis, much of the data analysis is through gestures/body positioning. Traditional methods of discourse analysis are also used...

The findings of the data for Chapter 10 (the case of the UK classroom) are as follows: based on the MmDA approach, researchers were able to conclude that the teacher in the case study treated one group of students differently than the other, as her body language, discourse, and gesturing indicated that one group was seen to be more intelligent/capable than the other.

Chapters 9 and 10 argue that MmDA can be incredibly beneficial in broader discourse analysis, as there are many elements of interaction/discourse that, if considered/measured/analyzed, would dramatically change the outcome of certain case studies and broader research projects. The body of knowledge: Yours and mine Both chapters 9 and 10 contribute greatly to not only the larger body of knowledge in discourse analysis, but to my own research interests within the field of DA. This can be elaborated upon in the Q&A session :) Theoretical Framework MEthodological framework Perhaps more specifically,
J&J argue that through MmDA
more powerful discourses can
(and do) emerge. Norris' mutilmodal approach owes much to a wide variety of research methods and styles. This is the very foundation of MmDA! Norris' theoretical framework at its base level is an extension of mediated discourse analysis conjoined with micro analysis found in interactional sociolinguistics (ala Goffman and Gumperz and Tannen) discourse analysis in Hamilton or Schiffrin and the macro analytical aspects of Wodak et al's historical analysis who locate discourse in historically constructed bodies of social agents. MULTIMODAL DISCOURSEIDENTITY ELEMENTSOCIAL AGENTMIND/CONSCIOUSNESSTHE ME and THE I Norris notes that "the following excerpts that I will look at in detail come from extensive ethnographic study of two co-owners of a web-design business that I constructed over a period of four months. During this time, I spent most of the days with the two women (whom I will call Tanya and Lucy) during work hours and also spent time with them at their homes." Ultimately, however, Norris' article concentrates on a very short phone conversation. This exemplar allows Norris to focus in on the minutia involved in identity construction though multiple influences and experiences. In this specific scenario, Norris takes note of body movement, vocal tone, turn orders between the three participants, and feedback mechanisms involved in discursive acts. These ideas are all brought together in Norris' reading of Tanya and Lucy's conversations. Preparation for Data Analysis Object handling (phone) and spoken language (with the telephone recipient and her co-worker) are not the only modes that Tanya employs. Tanya utilizes what Norris refers to as “high modal density” in order to construct the action of speaking on the phone with an employee. This must therefore include, along with object and spoken language, body posture as well as layout of the room. In this first situation, Tanya is interacting with two people simultaneously (the phone recipient and her co-worker/owner, Lucy), but the emphasis is placed differently in regards to her attention and focus. Simply put, Tanya is constructing multiple modes of identity in these interactions. While her primary attention, and thus, primary identity is linked to her phone conversation with an employee ( an identity of “boss”) she is secondly acting as “co-worker” and “co-owner” (as well as participant in this study, as Norris aptly points out). How is the data being analyzed? We as examiners alongside Norris can see that Tanya focuses her bodily attention on different foci during this scenario. Paying close attention to these bodily shifts, the analyst can note how the process of Me and I shifts are taking place. Since the study deals with MmDA, and J&J are primarily concerned with the bodily interactions, the terms and concepts (courtesy of Cameron) are supplemented through MmDA. The decentralization of language in Norris' chapter and MmDA at large are perhaps indicitive of a semiotic turn in linguistics. The incorporation of body into the study of communication and locutionary relationships is indeed a productive place to begin to think about ontology and socio-linguistic discourse as a whole. Yet, Norris' study has particular resonance even beyond the field of DA. The incorporation of gesture and hapticity into identity construction is specifically the realm that identity poltics has begun a reinvestment. Our identities, our subjectivities are more than simply discursive! They are affective, feeling bodies that respond to social and psychological stimuli. In this process we are in continuous production of self! Simply put, through these examples we can see how identity elements are construction prior to interaction and stored in "historical bodies" (Jones; Nishida 1958). These elements are continuously mediated via a dialectical relationship between the ME and the I in order to produce socially appropriate subjectivities for a variety of situations. THeory TIme!!
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