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Multimedia and Discourse Analysis

Lemke, J. L. (2012). Multimedia and Discourse Analysis. In J. P. Gee and M. Handford (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis, New York, NY: Routledge.

Discourse Analysis

set of techniques for making connections between texts and their meanings (Lemke, 2012, p. 79).

These texts are not limited to just words on a written page, but include:
Diagrams Static

or animated images Full motion video Sound effects and music Interactive gestures

Historical Views of Discourse Analysis

Chomsky (1965) studied grammatical construction. Levi-Strauss (1969) wanted to know if the many different versions of the same myth across different indigenous groups could be seen as systematic variants of one another (Lemke, 2012, p. 80). Halliday (1965) wanted to know what kinds of meanings it was possible to make in the English language and how different grammatical resources were deployed in different contexts to make those meanings (Lemke, 2012, p. 80).

Historical Views of Discourse Analysis


(1969) wanted to know what kinds of discourses were possible about a given topic in a given historical period, how they changed across the centureies, and how this was related to changing social institutions (Lemke, 2012, p.81).

Lemkes Question Dilemma:

What happens if we applied Hallidays analysis of the relationship between wording and meaning to what students and teachers said in a physics class? (Lemke, 2012, p. 81). The dilemma: In videotaping science classes in secondary schools and universities over a period of years, Lemke had the day to day details and the cultural semiotic system, but not the intermediate levels of analysis.

Semiotic Systems and Science


semiotic system is an interrelated collection of signs or symbols that can be deployed to construct more complex meanings (or at least assemblages of signs to which meaning can be assigned by some syste of conventions of use) (Lemke, 2012, p. 81). The language of science is a multimedia language or, more precisely, a multimodal semiotic system (Lemke, 1998).

Importance of Discourse in Science Classrooms


discourse of the science classroom was a window on much more than science education, it was a window on a society and a culture, just as social semiotics was claiming that this had to be the case for any use of language (Lemke, 2012, p. 81).

Discourse Analysis in Science Ed Research

Should be Multi-modal: Meaningful through the combination of action, language, non-speech sound effects, and visual semiotics. Each has its own set of meanings. Based on Information Theory each semiotic mode contributes a set of meanings that is unique and separate from other meanings. Individual Multi-modal semiotic systems must make consistent sense to gain a sense of the whole meaning. It is not just what is in the text or video, but what we need to know about the context and culture that helps give it meaning (Lemke, 2012, p. 85).

Concluding thoughts on Discourse Analysis


should be able to see yourself, and not just your object of study, in the analysis you make. You should be able to see your cultures and histories as well as its. If you can, you will never have made your journey in vain, and your travelers tale may help the rest of us make better sense of the country we all travel through (Lemke, 2012, p. 89).


J. L. (1998). Multimedia demands of the scientific curriculum. Linguistics and Education. 10 (3), 247-272. Lemke, J. L. (2012). Multimedia and Discourse Analysis. In J. P. Gee and M. Handford (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis. New York, NY: Routledge.