Course Content (Syllabus)
The formation of a new semiotic landscape, as a consequence of social, economical, cultural and technological changes, which our planet suffered recently, in combination with the comprehension of them for our society, require the redefinition of the meaning of literacy, so as to incorporate all the potential semiotic modes for the meaning-making, representation and communication, which are considered to be equal. Therefore, literacy is a concept directly connected to people’s competency to interact successfully in different communicative situations, by comprehending, producing and facing critically a plethora of types, not only written or oral, but also multimodal texts, which are suitably adapted to the requirements of contemporary communication demands. This transition from the ‘culture of language’ to the ‘culture of image’ and, consequently, the realization of existence of a variety of semiotic modes, apart from oral and written speech – that are used to be unique – for the processes of representation and communication, imposes as imperative the need for a visually oriented curriculum that aims at fostering literacy skills related to ‘consumption’, 'reading'/comprehension, critical appraisal and production of visual meanings. The exploration, however, and description of the ways in which image and language function both separately and in conjunction to construct meanings in multimodal ensembles, requires students and teachers to develop a common language – a metalanguage – for being able to talk and think about each semiotic/symbolic system separately as well as their meaning-making interactions.
In this light, the course focuses on: (a) studying the concepts of visual literacy, multimodality and text (monomodal-multimodal, printed-digital), (b) investigating the understanding of the ways in which linguistic resources, images and/or other modalities cooperate to construct representations of reality which highlight or suppress certain ways of viewing the world, (c) presenting, through the analysis and discussion of specific examples, the metalanguage of ‘visual grammar’ of Kress & van Leeuwen concerning the description of intra- and inter-semiotic semantic relations between different modalities intertwined to construct meanings in specific social and cultural contexts, and (d) examining how this metalanguage can be utilized in the classroom for teaching literacy.
Literacy, linguistic literacy, visual literacy, multimodality, multimodal text, ‘reading’ images, ‘visual grammar’