Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Understanding language and culture through multimodal text analysis

Dr Neil Johnson
Dr Neil Johnson (Team Leader for TESOL) will be giving a talk in the Languages Research Seminar series at 5pm on Tuesday November 22nd 2016 (Forster 301).  In the increasingly globalized and digital context of higher education, with concomitant pressure to internationalize through raised proficiency standards and greater intercultural understanding, the dominant skills-based, discreet approach to language teaching may not be optimally effective. In his presentation, entitled "Understanding language and culture through multimodal text analysis", Neil will describe the Literacy-based approach to language education that seeks to address these concerns. This approach was used to re-imagine a course for second year undergraduates at a small private university in Japan, and operationalizes both reading and writing as essentially similar processes of meaning making and design (New London Group, 1996). The course was re-structured so that learners are involved in iterative cycles of textual analysis, interpretation, and production as content shifts from the familiar texts of daily interaction to the texts and discourses of public and academic settings. A key feature of the course is the focus on intercultural and multimodal meaning. While multimodality has long been understood as a key concept in both education and new literacy research, how best to utilize this construct in foreign language education has yet to be fully understood. Having students explore what Stein (2009 p.26) describes as the “affordances and constraints of mode” for making meaning offers rich potential for developing understanding of the cultural orientations to the world that are presented in texts. Kress (2003) has argued that the different affordances of writing and image, between narrative and display, for example, produce very different takes on the world. Certain modes are used by sign makers to convey particular content in ways that other modes cannot. Considering issues of representation provides a way to understand text as socially situated and culturally shaped communication, as well as the emergent nature of meaning in language itself. In this session, Neil will share classroom examples from the course that exemplify this approach, focusing on a unit of work built around the concept of consumerism that demonstrates how a program can meaningfully connect inquiry into mode of representation with reading and writing pedagogy. He will also offer evidence from student work that multimodal textual analysis promotes development of textual, intercultural and linguistic awareness. It will be argued that this approach, even for students with relatively low levels of language proficiency, is important to foster the kinds of dispositions towards language, communication and culture that are necessary for these changed and changing times.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Beowulf on film

Dr. Miguel Gomes (Languages) will be giving a talk about the proliferation of film (sub)versions of the Old English poem Beowulf, particularly in the last twenty years. His talk, entitled 'And this shall be a place of merriment, joy, and fornication': Representing the monstrous other in Beowulf and its cinematic adaptations, explores  how the process of adapting early medieval heroic narratives and the alterity of monstrosities to the medium of film has led to new representations of Evil in popular medievalism. Miguel argues that a process of transformation, caused by modern sensibilities and fantasies about ‘anything medieval’, has produced a number of cinematic adaptations of the Anglo-Saxon poem in which Evil has been sexualized and the hero has been portrayed as undoubtedly guilty. In order to account for these changes, the nature of film as a medium and its multiple social and commercial implications will be considered in detail.

Time: Wednesday 16th November 2016 17:00 to 18:00
Location: Priestman 314
Email: sarah.dobbs@sunderland.ac.uk for more info.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Seagull City launch event


The Seagull City project is part of events for the Sunderland City of Culture 2021 bid. It takes people on a journey, literally and metaphorically, exploring the literary and cultural heritage of Sunderland. By focusing on the city centre, river and coastline, this project will encourage people to see Sunderland as a place with a rich history and dynamic future. The title of this project echoes that of the Sunderland 2021 City of Culture bid anthem, ‘Seagulls and the Saints’. The project has been devised by two School of Culture academics: Professor Angela Smith and Dr David Fallon

Elephant Tea Rooms, High Street West, Friday 4 November, 6.30 pm. This event is free but must be booked in advance via the University Online Store.

PhD student convenes theatre talk


Culture PhD student Patrick Low has been asked by Newcastle's Live Theatre to co-convene a panel for a post-performance talk on pseudoscience for their latest play called, Harriet Martineau Dreams of Dancing. The talk is to be given by Dr Ella Dzelzainis, Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature at Newcastle University and co-author of Harriet Martineau: Authorship, Society and Empire (2010). More details about the event, which takes place on 20th November 2016, can be found here.


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