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Brian Street: Bringing together the fields of multimodality and literacy studies

Date: 8 June 2010 Time: 1.00 - 2.00 pm

Venue: Institute for Advanced Studies Meeting Room 1

In a Foreword to Travel Notes (see ref below) Gunther Kress and I noted:

'The authors in this volume all attempt to bring together work from two recent fields of inquiry, that of Multimodality and that of Literacy Studies. In the former, Kress and others have attempted to redress the emphasis on language as the salient mode of communication in favour of a recognition of how other modes - visual, gestural, kinaesthetic - are key communicative practices: they are developing a language of description for such modes that enables us to see their characteristic forms, their affordances and their distinctive links with each other. Likewise, those in the field of New Literacy Studies in particular have attempted to provide a new language of description for viewing literacy in its social context: again wishing to change the emphasis of the past, especially that in educational contexts, Street and others have attempted to describe multiple literacy practices that vary across cultures and contexts'. We conclude:

'The key question addressed by this volume is how these two fields of study can speak to each other, to find both correspondences and differences'.

That volume was published in 2006 and I will attempt in this presentation to build upon what we learned through that collaboration and to take into account the wealth of recent publications in both fields For instance, in a recent chapter in an Encyclopedia of Multimodality (Street et al, 2009)., the authors extend this strategy to ask:

'what the New Literacy Studies can do to inform research premised on a multimodal perspective. Multimodality and New Literacy Studies, brought together, fills out a larger more nuanced picture of social positionings and communication by building an equal recognition of practices, texts, contexts, space, and time'.

I look forward to discussing these questions with such an informed audience.

Brian Street, King's College London


Kress, G and Street, B 2006 'Multi-Modality and Literacy Practices' Foreword to Travel notes from the New Literacy Studies: case studies of practice 2006 edited by Kate Pahl and Jennifer Rowsell Multilingual Matters; Clevedon pp vii-x

Brian Street , Kate Pahl and Jennifer Rowsell>2009 'Multimodality and New Literacy Studies', Chapter 15 of Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis

Edited by Carey Jewitt

Event website:


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Lancaster Literacy Research Centre, Linguistics and English Language

Keywords: Literacies, Literacy, Multimodalities


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