Remaking Meaning Across Modes in Literacy Studies

Authored by: Diane Mavers

The Routledge Handbook of Literacy Studies

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415816243
eBook ISBN: 9781315717647
Adobe ISBN: 9781317510611


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This chapter is concerned with shifting information across means of representation. That which has been given in one or more communicational ‘channels’ – now commonly termed ‘modes’ (Kress and Van Leeuwen 2001) – is reconfigured with the resources of another or others. An entirely ordinary and commonplace process, it is something that happens more frequently than might at first be envisaged. Image can be a basis for crafting objects or environments, such as constructing a space rocket out of junk from a comic illustration, making an item of dress from a fashion design or planting out a flowerbed from a sketch. Playing orchestral music is realizing a score instrumentally. Facial expression and action might be appropriated in acting out a song, and gesture in giving directions from a map. The priority in this chapter is instances where lettered representation is in some way involved. Producing a written account of an event (e.g. a report of a football match), spoken interaction (e.g. a transcript of a radio broadcast), a procedure (e.g. instructions on how to conduct a medical operation) or an image (e.g. a gallery guide) entails transitions from what has been seen, heard or done to the page of the page-like screen. By no means disregarded in the policy and practice of the literacy education, everyday instances that go on as a matter of course are individually named and sometimes extensively specified in curricula. In reading aloud, for example, writing is articulated orally, with much attention in the early years on the relationships between letters and phonemes, as well as the role of punctuation and layout in vocal cadence. Unsurprisingly, attention in the classroom is on the quality, accuracy and effectiveness of the outcome rather than the process of how one thing is remade as another. The very ordinariness, even transparency, of ‘transmodal remaking’ masks its complexities. Yet, the mundane turns out to be remarkable.

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