Representing Linguistic and Cultural Knowledge in Text and Film – A Comparative Multimodal Analysis

Representing Linguistic and Cultural Knowledge in text and Film - A Comparative Multimodal Analysis


Presentation at the Kaleidoscope Conference, Cambridge 1-2 june 2017

Digital technology offers tools for expressing knowledge and learning in new ways and for promoting cultural understanding in education. This is a single case comparative analysis of one student’s dual representation of the same content knowledge, Civil Rights in the English Speaking World, in the form of an essay and a film. The empirical example has been chosen from an extensive empirical material (part of an ongoing Masters study), produced by approximately 50 ESL students in a digital learning environment, in the regular scope of their studies of English as a foreign language in Swedish upper secondary school, during August 2013 – June 2016. The aim of this single case empirical study is to identify and study how different modes enable the representation of knowledge in different ways. How do different modes enable the representation of (linguistic and cultural) knowledge in a multimodal text (film), compared to monomodal text (essay)? What affordances and constraints do the modes used in the two different representations of knowledge entail?The method used is a detailed multimodal analysis. The multimodal theoretical platform (Kress 2010; Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006) makes it possible to analyse different modes, focusing on the affordances of modes, making visible power relations and cultural understanding. Knowledge and learning are here seen as interdependent concepts in a process of making meaning, and modes as culturally situated. The tentative result of this single case analysis indicates significant disparity, as to what knowledge becomes visible in the monomodal and multimodal texts respectively, depending on the modes of representation used. This raises several questions for future study and analysis. How do national practices in education affect students’ learning and representations of knowledge? How is knowledge evaluated, and how is it culturally encoded?

Keywords: education, cultural understanding, multimodality, embodied mode


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