A blog for the Second Language Literacies course from the MA in Learning and Teaching Processes in Second Languages (ML2) at UPB-Medellín
So far, we have explored the implications of critical frameworks in literacy and we have discussed what it means to talk about the idea of “new” in literacy. This weekend, we’ll delve into another feature of literacy research that has rewritten the field in the last 20 years: The notion of “multi-“. We will read some key texts about multimodality, that Gunther Kress himself has written over the years (anybody who would like to go even further should then travel back to 1997 and read Before writing). We will also read some texts about multiliteracies. We will first take a look at the original manifesto from The New London Group in 1996 and later the revision to the ideas that Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis proposed in 2009. We will also read some introductory texts about the idea of “multi-” and what it means in literacy research.
I propose some initial questions to lead the first discussions:
1. When we are talking about “multi-“, are we talking about “multiple”? What does it mean to talk about, say, multiple literacies vs. multiliteracies? Is there such a thing as “multiple modalities”?
2. I have argued elsewhere (Mora, 2013) that today’s understanding of literacy has both a linguistic and a semiotic dimension. How would these dimensions come into play when we talk about multiliteracies and multimodality?
3. The initial manifesto by the New London Group (1996) talked about a pedagogy of multiliteracies. What is exactly their pedagogical proposal? Look at both the NLG piece and the Cope & Kalantzis (2009) update.
4. Why does it matter to talk about multimodality today? What does the concept bring to the table beyond the notion of using digital technologies/ICTs?
5. The idea of design is a big part of the conceptual underpinnings of both multimodality and multiliteracies. How do the authors understand design? Why would that matter in the field of second language studies?
Here’s an interview with Gunther Kress about multimodality:
You can also check out Professor Brian Street’s talk at the ML2 Open Lecture Series last year:
And you can also find more videos from Mary Kalantzis and Bill Cope here.