The multimodal representation of “Ideas worth spreading” through TED talks


The slogan of TED talks reminds one of the overarching goals of this genre, i.e. to spread/share worthy ideas from different knowledge domains among the general public. The present contribution applies a multimodal perspective to the analysis of evaluation as a strategy used to shape such ideas in the talks. It actually takes into account a broad conception of evaluation as the expression of the speaker’s attitude or stance towards, viewpoint on, or feelings about what is being talked about (Thompson, Hunston 2000), which, in this textual genre in particular, tends to be imbued with a strong desire to cause or evoke a similar experience in the audience. The study focuses on quantitative and qualitative data on subjective (emotional and axiological) adjectives, gestures and visuals (content of slides) combining in ever more complex multimodal ensembles from a selection of talks in three different domains, in order to gain a more comprehensive insight into tedsters’ representations of their views emerging from the interactions of such resources. In fact, the findings show that the latter contribute significantly to the shaping of the proposed ideas as something worth listening to (and, ideally, endorsing). Also, they appear to display varied combinations across knowledge domains, thus pointing towards domain variation as a possible constraining factor responsible for the diversification of the multimodal rhetoric associated with the genre.


DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v36p155

Keywords: evaluation; gestures; visuals; multimodality; knowledge dissemination.


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