Multimodale Rhetorik in der Onlinemedien-Kommunikation

Mai 2020 - September 2020

Leitung: Kay O'Halloran (Liverpool, GBR), John Bateman (Bremen, GER), Mehul Bhatt (Örebro, SWE)
ZiF Research Group Workshop

Video conference (Opening conference parts 1 and 2)

18 – 27 May 2020
Convenors: Kay O'Halloran (Liverpool, GBR), John Bateman (Bremen, GER), Mehul Bhatt (Örebro, SWE)

The ZiF Research Group on 'Multimodal Rhetoric in Online Media Communications' seeks to develop methods that can make visible how messages distributed across a range of online media appear to construct ideological positions in a manner that increasingly supplants traditional consensus-based media frameworks. A particular focus of the group is the multimodal organisation of such messages: it is not the printed word or spoken word alone, nor photography, nor video, that carry the main weight of communication in today's media contexts, but rather all of these (and others) combined. This state of affairs demands integrative approaches that cohere both theoretically and methodologically to track patterns of problematically polarised ideological construction, no matter in which form those patterns occur.
The research group's core premise is that a substantial contribution to this task must now combine expertise and methods in multimodal discourse analysis, sociopolitical models of rhetorical effects, and computational deep semantic interpretation of linguistic and visuoauditory media, and their combinations. Bringing together the diverse expertise and developing interdisciplinary methods are critical for realising this goal.
Originally, a series of onsite workshops and practical sessions with direct participation by international experts in all the concerned fields has been planned, but with Covid-19 restrictions this was impossible. The research group opened instead with a fully virtual conference with participants from U.S., Europe and Australia; the conference ran three days a week over two consecutive weeks in May. The goal of this event was to share the potential contributions and states of the art in each of the contributing scientist's areas of concern across the group and to identify particular integrative action paths to be followed subsequently. On each day, 3-4 short scientific presentations were held followed by discussion. Despite the practical difficulties of straddling time zones across three continents, this virtual format proved extremely effective: around 20-25 participants were actively involved each day and the time allocated for discussion regularly needed to be extended.
Conference week 1 covered introductions to the purposes of the research group, followed by an overview of relevant sociological and political issues (Ronald L. Breiger, Robin Wagner-Pacifici, Sophie Mützel) and challenges of visuoauditory-verbal media from critical discourse and corpus-analytic perspectives (Katharina Lobinger, Beate Schirrmacher, Peter Uhrig, John Bateman). Week 2 focused on potential analytic methods, spanning computational approaches to larger-scale bodies of visuals, texts and their combinations (Cecile Paris, Kay O'Halloran/Gautam Pal/Sabine Tan, Devin Cornell, Mehul Bhatt/Jakob Suchan, Ralph Ewerth) followed by integrative styles of analysis from the digital humanities (Manuel Burghardt), visual media (Stefan Meier), and multimodality (Chiao-I Tseng). Particularly striking were the interconnections and potential synergies that the presentations and discussions revealed, confirming and surpassing the research group's original contention that the time is now right for such a highly integrative and multi-faceted approach to the problem area. Building on the connections established, the main challenge now is carrying forward the various strands even if direct onsite collaboration remains restricted. Plans established for the months ahead include data collection and multimodal search/analysis, targeted computational visuospatial deep processing & semantic interpretation, and development of case-studies of socio-politically relevant critical analyses.

Kay O'Halloran, John Bateman, Mehul Bhatt

Conference Programme

If you are interested in participating please contact Professor Kay O'Halloran .

Email: kay.ohalloran@liverpool.ac.uk