BreMM19 | Bateman

John A. Bateman
Bremen University | Bremen, Germany

From Stephanie’s bedroom to World of Warcraft via Powerpoint: texts, semi-texts, and the methodological centrality of materiality

As multimodal analyses have expanded their objects of interest, it has not always been clear just what kind of theoretical status those objects should be accorded. Analogously to the inflationary use of the term `text’ in the semiotics of the mid-twentieth century, multimodality is seen as occurring everywhere and, in consequence, there are accompanying attempts to apply analytic frameworks developed with respect to particular classes of semiotic socio-cultural activities well beyond their original hunting grounds. Although in principle such expansions of scope are to be welcomed, they also raise challenges of both a theoretical and practical nature – particularly when analysis seeks to move beyond exploratory descriptions. In this presentation, I focus on the methodological contribution currently being made by the radical extension and generalisation of the theoretical notion of materiality introduced in Bateman/Wildfeuer/Hiippala (2017). By applying the model to some objects of analysis on the very edges of what might be considered `texts’, I show the increased methodological rigour that can be achieved and some of the consequences this has for classifying and characterising the quite varied forms of semiosis involved.


Bateman, John A./Wildfeuer, Janina/Hiippala, Tuomo (2017). Multimodality. Foundations, Research, Analysis. A Problem-Oriented Introduction. Berlin, New York: de Gruyter.


1975-1978 University of Lancaster, England. 1980-1986 University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Since 1999 Professor of Linguistics in the English and Linguistics Departments, Bremen University, specializing in functional, computational and multimodal linguistics. Research areas include functional linguistic approaches to multilingual and multimodal document design, semiotics, theories of discourse and the relation between language and other semiotic systems. He has published widely in all these areas, as well as authoring several introductory and survey articles on multimodality, multimodal linguistic film analysis and automatic natural language generation. Publications include Multimodality and Genre (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2008), Multimodal Film Analysis (Routledge, 2012), with Karl-Heinrich Schmidt, Text and Image: a critical introduction to the visual/verbal divide  (Routlege, 2014), as well as the introductory textbook on multimodality and its foundations written with Janina Wildfeuer and Tuomo Hiippala (de Gruyter, 2017).

  • © 2020 University of Bremen || Faculty of Linguistics and Literary Science