The full conference program is now available on our conference tool here. You can also download the program as pdf here.

Keynote presentations:

Rodney H. Jones, University of Reading: From Visual to 'Envisioned' Semiotics: Multimodality Meets Mobility

November 8, 10:15, room R.N. 02

The rise of the world wide web, digital imaging and graphic user interfaces in the late 1990s precipitated an intense  interest in the fields of sociolinguistics and discourse analysis in visual semiotics and multimodal communication (Kress 2009; Kress and van Leeuwen, 1996). In many ways, the more recent rise of mobile digital communication, supported by digital video cameras and social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat, presents a challenge to more traditional 'grammars' of visual communication, forcing analysts to engage more fully with the ways multimodal meaning emerges from techno-somatic entanglements in which the most important communicative resource is not what is seen but communicators' embodied experience of seeing it. This paper calls for an approach to digital visual communication which combines social semiotics with post-phenomenology (Ihde, 2001), with the aim of helping us to understand how both affective and rhetorical dimensions of visual communication work together in contexts as diverse as Snapchat stories and videos of police shootings. Such an approach, I argue allows us to attend both to the intersubjective, embodied aspects of the communication of 'seeing', and to the social and political aspects which govern who, under what circumstances, has the 'right to see' (c.f. Mirzoeff, 2011). 

Abstract with bibliography here. For more information on the author please check this website.

Gudrun Ledegen, University of Rennes : Quand on n’a que l’écran : les deux faces de l’écran dans un chat de prévention du suicide, un contexte anonyme et formel

Please note : the keynote presentation had to be cancelled due to reasons of serious ill health.

L’étude présentée ici s’inscrit dans l’approche de la sociolinguistique d’intervention (Bulot, 2008), veillant à présenter une analyse qui puisse répondre aux interrogations des responsables et des intervenants sur le chat de prévention du suicide, en termes d’efficacité de l’accueil et des discours produits. Le but ici est de présenter une analyse sociolinguistique du discours de ce « corpus sensible » (Perea & Paveau 2012), en mettant en lumière les contrastes entre les deux faces de l’écran : seront ainsi étudiées les particularités registrales de cette communication médiée par ordinateur, qui se révèle très formelle et formatée, jusque dans l’organisation conversationnelle des échanges. Des deux côtés de l’écran, les rares éléments créant de la proximité entre les interactants, que sont les smileys (Marcoccia 2004) et l’humour (Jefferson 1984 ; Sacks 1992) viennent contraster fortement avec ce cadre interactif particulier. La difficile expression du dévoilement de soi d’une part, et de l’empathie d’autre part, dans ce contexte CMO d’échange écrit entre inconnus, met ainsi pleinement en lumière la difficulté à communiquer par écrans interposés, l’échange se limitant exclusivement au champ visuel, situation rassurante mais aussi abruptement distante. Et ce d’autant plus que le rôle de l’écoutant est très délicat, les « ressources » (Goffman 1988) dont il dispose dans la co-construction de l’activité du dévoilement de soi, étant peu « sûres ».

Abstract with bibliography here. For more information on the author please check this website.

Sirpa Leppänen, University of Jyväskylä: (Re)visualizing in social media: The case of doing and transgressing motherhood

November 9, 14:00, room R.N. 02

Communication in informal and interest-driven social media contexts often involves the selection and integration of a range of semiotic materials. These include resources provided by language(s), varieties, styles and genres, along with other semiotic resources – textual forms and patterns, visuality, still and moving images, sound, music, and cultural discourses (Kress & van Leeuwen 2001; Scollon & LeVine 2004– as well as their mobilization in processes and practices of entextualization (Bauman & Briggs 1990; Blommaert 2005) and resemiotization (Iedema 2003; Leppänen et al. 2014).

In my talk, I will highlight how such multilingual and multimodal communicative resources serve as key means for social interaction, collaborative and participatory cultural production, identification and critical action in social media. More specifically, I will demonstrate how in such social media practices, (re)visualization plays a key role. Drawing on a transdisciplinary framework provided by digital ethnography, the study of computer-mediated discourse and the study of multimodality (see e.g. Leppänen & Kytölä, 2017), and with the help of data from Finland-based social media, I will discuss how particular styles of visuality are taken up, reanimated and subverted in constructions of and interactions around a shifting and contested social category - motherhood.

Abstract with bibliography here. For more information on the author please check this website.


Hartmut Stöckl, University of Salzburg: Image-Centricity – When Visuals Take Centre Stage. Analyses and Interpretations of a Current (News) Media Practice

November 9, 09:30, room R.N. 02

Ever since BARTHES’ (1977/1964) seminal essay the relative status of language and image has been a major focus in systemic functional descriptions of multimodal genres (BATEMAN 2014:191ff.). Its importance shows in recent applications to news genres, where a different status of press photographs leads to the contrasting text types ‘image-nuclear (or centric)’ vs. ‘verbiagenuclear news story’ (CAPLE 2008; CAPLE 2013: 127ff./142ff). While this distinction seems intuitively plausible, it is far from clear which criteria contribute to image-centricity. What is more, the binary typology obscures the genre variety resulting from different inter-semiotic relations.Based on a theoretical reflection of multimodality (cf. STÖCKL 2016) and image-centricity the keynote sets out to draw up a typology of image-centric media stories, which indicates the genre variety of such texts and the diversity of multimodal design-options. Using a corpus of imagecentric media stories drawn from national German and English print-newspapers (e.g.Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Welt; Guardian, New York Times, USAToday) the contribution aims to sketch out genre prototypes (e.g. news-in-brief, story-intro, preview, explainer, editorial, gallery etc.) that respond to different text functions (e.g. narrating, commenting, surveying etc.).The distinctions between the various image-centric media genres will be based on linguistic and multimodal descriptions. In this sense the keynote is not purely empirical but also highlights an analytical method applicable to other multi-semiotic genres. First, we will look at generic structure,which may include headline, image, prosodic tail and caption and produces various multimodal rhetorical clusters (STÖCKL 2017). Second, the type of image used and its visual grammar (MACHIN 2007: 109ff.) exert a strong influence on genre. Third, rhetorical relations between imageand text will differ as to how captions contain ‘experiential orientation’ and ‘contextual expansion’ (CAPLE 2013: 130ff.). Finally, genre distinctions may emerge from different logicalconjunctive relations and from  differences in the types and frequency of cohesive ties (CAPLE 2013: 142ff.; STÖCKL 2015: 67–70).

The keynote demonstrates that image-centricity in media stories takes different generic forms and comes in different multimodal patterns, reflecting various journalistic/media cultures.While images may easily dominate the layout, their centricity to a text’s overall thematic and multimodal structure appears to be a gradable quality. Current observations suggest that the degree of image-centricity primarily depends on the strength/types of inter-semiotic connectedness (i.e. cohesion/coherence) but also on inter-textual/pictorial relations.

Abstract with bibliography here. For more information on the author please check this website.