Unit Two

Our second question, which opens the second unit of the course, concerns multimodality: “What material and semiotic resources do we employ in textual production?” With an understanding of preexisting texts as the source of semiotic resources, our second unit categorizes texts into the “raw materials” of composition in the form of Kressian modes. If our first unit focuses on semantic units, the second emphasizes the plethora of “material units” (visuals, sound, layout, temporal arrangement, font, motion, so on and so forth) that composers use to make meaning. Illustrating that forms of media are assemblages of different modes working in concert with one another, students realize that much, if not all, of composition is multimodal, a realization that prepares them for the explicitly multimodal assignments to come in the course. In learning these things, students ideally gain a broad-base understanding of the material resources of textual production and a more acute ability to analyze media into their component modes, understanding how they are used and combined to make a particular meaning.