Schematizing information

The macrotypographic framing of text

Authored by: Jürgen Spitzmüller

The Routledge Handbook of Language and Media

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138014176
eBook ISBN: 9781315673134
Adobe ISBN:


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Over the last decade, text and media research have become increasingly aware of the semiotic complexity of textual information processing. It has been pointed out that texts structure information not only by verbal means, i.e., in the linear, thematically and argumentatively structured flow of phrases, sentences, and paragraphs, but in multiplex, nonlinear, and multilayered ways (particularly by two-dimensional visual means such as typography, diagrams, graphics, etc. that interact with verbal representations). This view has become established in the wake of a general widening and revision of the notion of ‘text’ in linguistics and media studies as well as in other disciplines within the humanities and social sciences (a process sometimes referred to as the multimodal turn; Jewitt 2014: 4). According to this revised conception, texts are more than semantically coherent concatenations of smaller verbal entities; they are regarded as multi-dimensional complexes that operate at multiple interrelated semiotic levels, depending on, and shaped by, the given material and technical possibilities. Information, thereby, is no longer regarded as something that is being simply ‘packed into’ (or encoded in) texts (by means of semiotic codes such as the alphabetic script), but as something that is actively constructed by textual means on these diverse semiotic levels.

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