What is it about?
This book review praises Kress for being an acute observer and analyst of multimodal discourses, but presents criticisms of Kress' sometimes shaky theorizing, and unfounded prejudices against cognitivist approaches to multimodality.
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Why is it important?
Kress is, together with Theo van Leeuwen, one of the founding fathers of Social Semiotics -- rooted in Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL). The two authors' Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design (first edition: 1996; third edition: 2022) is a classic of the paradigm. Just like this earlier book, however, Multimodality has not only many qualities, it also has serious flaws. Unfortunately the fact that Kress & Van Leeuwen did pioneering work on multimodality meant that numerous (young) scholars take their concepts and analyses for granted, using them as a self-evident starting point for doing multimodal discourse without realizing social semiotics' weaknesses. The result of this is that the young discipline of multimodality runs the risk of not being taken seriously by the broader scholarly community.
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This page is a summary of: Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication, Journal of Pragmatics, November 2011, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.pragma.2011.06.013.
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