Multimodal design : the semiotic resources of children's graphic representation
In asking how children's graphic representation can be understood as multimodal design, I argue that meaning-making is a complex process of semiotic interweaving. My definition of graphic representation for this thesis embraces the full range of marks made on any graphic surface. Multimodal design is the socioculturally shaped process of transformation where existing semiotic (meaning-making) resources are chosen, shaped and combined according to the individual's interest and his or her perception of the particular representational or communicational need. I propose that graphic representation might be thought about as multimodal compounds (co-present writing and image) and multimodal composites (an integration of the modes that make up the self-contained entities of writing and image). I explore how texts can be understood multimodally by examining what the semiotic resources of children's graphic representation are, how they carry meaning and how they interrelate. Through in-depth analysis of writing and drawing both discretely and appearing together in the same graphic text, I analyse paper-based and electronic texts produced at home and school for different purposes. I take my interpretations of the signs children have made and my theorization always to be hypotheses. Language-as-writing and drawing-as-image offer potentialities for different ways of making meaning but common and particularized semiotic modes such as presentation, layout and punctuation operate across graphic representation. These modes work together in a semiotic partnership. I suggest that semiotic principles across modes of communication including and going beyond the graphic might include criteriality, connectivity and salience. This implies the notion of a multimodal disposition. The multimodality of children's graphic representational design has implications for pedagogy, curriculum policy, professional development and the research community.