How to do things with modes. Transmodality in slides


Slideshows are ubiquitous in today’s academic events such as university lectures. Thus, it appears imperative to investigate the evolution of the modes which are implemented in processes of knowledge communication through slideshows. In particular, this study focuses on the complex relations between texts and images and on the multifaceted functions that different modes assume.

A corpus of lecture slides drawn from the MIT OpenCourseWare site is investigated from a transmodal perspective by adopting a qualitative approach. The analysis shows that the production of slides is based on the exploitation of multiple modes which co-act for the fulfillment of different pragmatic needs (e.g. informative, persuasive, or interactional) and assume a mutually constructive function.

This paper also argues for the significance of transmodal research in academic contexts, especially in the light of the constant technological and epistemological shift which accompanies the evolution of teaching practices in higher education. Indeed, a transmodal approach can facilitate a wider understanding of the affordances and limitations of the different semiotic resources, which need to be conceived from a complementary and syncretic perspective.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v33p7

Keywords: slides; PowerPoint; multimodality; transmodality; image-text.


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