Tracing the Shapes of Multimodal Rhetoric

On 19th March 2021, Hartmut Stöckl and I had the opportunity to present on our soon-to-be-published visual essay ‘Tracing the Shapes of Multimodal Rhetoric — Showing the Epistemic Powers of Visualisation’ (to appear in Visual Communication later this year).

The talk was part of the #BreGroMM-‘Workshops on Multimodality’, a series of online event about all-things-multimodal which has been organised by our colleagues Janina Wildfeuer (Groningen) and John A. Bateman (Bremen).

Working on the essay was an amazing experience. It all started with some scribbles on my whiteboard (see image below) and evolved into an exciting publications, full of ideas for visualising the form-based dimension of the semiotic modes layout, typography, and colour in a National Geographic-feature article.

At the same time, the final essay suggests unique ways of ‘making contact with data’ – ways that allow for acknowledging the formal-structural dimension of multimodal rhetoric and retaining some of the form-related information during analysis.

Such design-based approaches are beneficial to a more focused description of the workings of individual modes and, thereby, support the generation of hypotheses for further empirical analysis.

I am very grateful to Hartmut for his enthusiam about exploring such new, unconventional ways of tackling multimodal data, for his insightful contributions, and skillful and elegant writing.


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