Multimodal Stylistics by Examining Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Really Big Adventure

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Analysis of languages texts are being undertaken by scholars such as Norgaard whose research looks at typography and other semiotic modes, and Gibbons whose research looks at poets. Gibbons explains ‘multimodal printed literature’ can include children’s picture books, however as yet there has been no attention paid to this area. Therefore this essay investigates original ground in multimodal stylistics by examining ‘Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Really Big Adventure’, a children’s book aimed at children over the age of three using multimodal stylistics. explains that ‘multimodality insists on the multiple integration of semiotic resources in all communicative events’. Multimodality is a part of everyday life, any conversation we have, consists of gesture, intention and language. McIntyre and Busse explain that although the word multimodal implies the existence of a ‘mono-modes’, these cannot exist. Even written verbal language can be multimodal as it has a visual aspect as well as ‘wording’ Modes are central to multimodality however, clarifying what constitutes a mode can be a difficult task. It has been suggested that ‘modes are connected to the five senses’ however this ‘overlooks crucial differences’ (Gibbons 2011, pg.13). Norgaard et al. (2010, pg.118) explains verbal language has been referred to as a mode, although written and spoken verbal language differ and as such ‘it is necessary to distinguish between the two as separate semiotic modes’. Multimodal stylistics analyses how these semiotic modes interact and create meaning, and ‘aims to broaden the modes and media to which stylistic analyses can be applied’ (Norgaard 2010, pg.30). Norgaard (2010, pg.30) also highlights that when analysing a literary text, multimodal stylistics can explain ‘how other semiotic modes such as typography, colour, layout, visual images, etc. do also construct meaning’. Multimodal stylistics has attracted a number of key analysts who have different areas of interest. These include: Baldry and Thibault (2006) looking at social semiotics, Kress and Van Leeuwen (2001) working in discourse analysis, Norgaard (2009) looking at typography and Gibbons (2011?) focusing on cognitive poetics. Typography analyses the visual aspect of language whether this be hand written, printed or calligraphed (Norgaard 2009, pg.143) and how the visual text displayed can create meaning. Van Leeuwen’s (2006) system of distinctive typographical features, which McIntyre and Busse (2010, pg.438) refer to as ‘a grammar of typography’ can be applied to a typographic analysis. These features, relating to typeface, are: weight (bold or heavy), expansion (narrow or wide), slope (upright or slanted), curvature (angular or rounded), connectivity (are the letters connected or unconnected), orientation (tall or flat), regularity (regular or irregular) (McIntyre and Busse 2010, pg.438). These distinctive features, as Gibbons (2011, pg.31) explains, are a way of understanding how ‘typographic forms can express meaning’. Norgaard (2009, pg.145) further develops the distinctive features of typography by van Leeuwen and suggests an additional category of colour. In addition to these features, Norgaard (2009) suggests three categories ‘of typography according to the semiotic principles behind the meanings created by the visual side of language’. The first category explains how font size and the use of italics can create typographic iconicity. Majuscules (capitals or large font size) can be used to create the idea of someone shouting, therefore the visual salience becomes iconic as it creates the meaning of sonic salience (Gibbons 2011, pg.33). This also applies to the use of italics to suggest someone whispering. However, it should be said that the meaning created is dependent on the context. The second category, called discursive import, ‘occurs when typographic signs and their associated meanings are ‘imported’ into a context where they did not previously belong’ (Norgaard...
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