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Multimodality as a Sociolinguistic Resource

Dissertation Defense, March 8, 2013

Lauren Collister

on 18 March 2016

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Transcript of Multimodality as a Sociolinguistic Resource

as a Sociolinguistic Resource
Lauren B. Collister, Department of Linguistics, University of Pittsburgh
started with Benjamin Friedline
participant-observation style
what is the community?
Why does Matt ask Owen if it's okay for him to take the horse?
face threat
Watch Matt change modes (mode-switch):
spoken f-t-f
spoken f-t-f
(find out what happened)
(reports the issue in private message)
(talking about a drink)
(listening to instructions)
face threat
Watch again: he says the same thing in 3 modes.
"I'll come with you every week."
Dissertation Defense
a case study from World of Warcraft
March 8th, 2013
circles not drawn
to scale
expert players
average player logs 20-40 hours of playtime per week
social interaction > game progression
other important characteristics
created and administered by women (mostly)
~1/3 of guild membership is female
known ages range between 7 and 54 (median ~24)
LGBT friendly
"safe space" guild
mostly Americans, but some from:
United Kingdom
New Zealand
...and others
United States server
RP (RolePlaying) type
Medium population
c.f. "community of practice"
two intersecting groups of people who play together regularly (a group from ~2009, a group from ~2011, some overlap)
enact and enforce community norms
strong Sense of Virtual Presence (Blanchard 08)
What is multimodality anyway?
Mode... is understood as an outcome of the cultural shaping of a material. The resources come to display regularities through the ways in which people use them. In other words in a specific context (time and place) modes are shaped by the daily social interaction of people.
Modes are strongly associated with the medium that has given rise to them. Similarly, modes can be -- and are -- realized in more than one specific medium.
(Jewitt, 2009)
(Rheindorf, 2004)
A mode is a socially and culturally shaped resource for making meaning.
(Bezemer & Kress, 2009)
Mode is a socially shaped and culturally given semiotic resource for making meaning.
(Kress, 2010)
Modes are systems of representation with regularities.
(Norris, 2004)
a socially and culturally shaped means of representing meaning in communication.
(Collister, 2013)
different from
Materially, medium is the substance in and through which meaning is instantiated/realized and through which meaning becomes available to others (cf. “oil on canvas”).
(Bezemer & Kress, 2009)
The medium is the means through which the multimodal phenomena materialise.
(O'Halloran, 2011)
...material resources used in the production of meaningful products or communicative events.
(Kress & Van Leeuwen, 2001)
the social basis that allows a set of technologies to stand out as a unified thing with clearly defined functions
(Sterne, 2003)
the means for distributing messages that contains a set of unified modes each with clearly defined functions
(Bezemer & Kress, 2009)
the co-presence of two or more modes at the same time during an interaction in a medium; multimodality may be thought of as a ‘communicational ensemble’ of modes
(this phrasing borrowed from Kress & Van Leeuwen, 2001)
I won't explain semiotic resources in this presentation because it's pretty complicated and would take up the whole time; feel free to ask me later or read about it in CHAPTER 3.
I define 'channel' as a particular instance of a mode.
(Collister, 2013)
method: ethnography
(Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game)
fantasy-style MMORPG
12 million subscribers
The World of Warcraft Project
Collister (2008) p.81
read: "it was too hard to analyze voice chat; someone else should do it"
Mediated Discourse Analysis
new lexical items
utterance breaks
mailing lists
instant messenger
how do we talk, academically, about written conversational discourse?
this group interacts not just with
but also with
transcription thanks:
Michelle Moser, Michelle Echols, Lauren Kwak, Rosa McGill, Samantha Keeler
+legal drinking age
Nardi 2010
Nakamura 2009
Wadley & Gibbs 2010
Source: The Oatmeal
the average gamer is assumed to be:
modal affordance
properties of a mode that make it unique or useful
Full transcript