The affordances and constraints of situation and genre

Visual and multimodal rhetoric in unusual traffic signs

In: International Review of Pragmatics
View More View Less
  • 1 University of Amsterdam
  • 2 University of Bergen

Purchase instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):

€25.00$30.00

Abstract

Visuals are generally considered to be rich in information, but also to be open to many different interpretations. As a consequence, many argumentation scholars doubt that visuals can constitute argumentation (e.g. Fleming, 1996; Johnson, 2003, 2010; Patterson, 2010). In this paper, we argue that the rhetorical and argumentative potential of visuals and multimodal texts is strengthened if they belong to recognizable genres, genres being governed by discourse-internal factors as well as situational/pragmatic understanding. The genre of traffic signs can draw on specific genre conventions thanks to these signs’ highly coded nature. As a consequence, traffic signs constitute an exemplary category to make the point that visuals and multimodal texts can function rhetorically or even argumentatively. We support our claim by first analysing a number of unusual instances of the genre and then discussing a few visual and multimodal signs whose argumentative potential no longer depends on specific traffic-related circumstances but crucially depends on the pretence that they are traffic signs.

  • Altman, Rick. 1999. Film/Genre. London: British Film Institute.

  • Baldry, Anthony and Paul J. Thibault. 2006. Multimodal Transcription and Text Analysis: A Multimedia Toolkit and Coursebook. London: Equinox.

  • Barthes, Roland. 1986 [1964]. Rhetoric of the image. In R. Barthes (author), The Responsibility of Forms, 21–20. Transl. by Richard Howard. London: Blackwell.

  • Bateman, John. 2008. Multimodality and Genre: A Foundation for the Systematic Analysis of Multimodal Documents. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Bateman, John. 2014. Text and Image: A Critical Introduction to the Visual/Verbal Divide. London: Routledge.

  • Bateman, John, Judy Delin and Renate Henschel. 2004. Multimodality and empiricism: Preparing for a corpus-based approach to the study of multimodal meaning-making. In E. Ventola, C. Charles and M. Kaltenbacher (eds.), Perspectives on Multimodality, 65–87. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

  • Bateman, John A., Janina Wildfeuer and Tuomo Hiippala. 2017. Multimodality: Foundations, Research and Analysis—A Problem-Oriented Introduction. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

  • Benoit, William L. 2000. Beyond genre theory: The genesis of rhetorical action. Communications Monographs 67: 178–192.

  • Bitzer, Lloyd F. 1968. The rhetorical situation. Philosophy & Rhetoric 1: 1–14.

  • Bitzer, Lloyd. F. 1980. Functional communication. In E. White (ed.), Rhetoric in Transition: Studies in the Nature and Uses of Rhetoric, 21–38. Pennsylvania PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.

  • Black, Edwin. 1978 [1965]. Rhetorical Criticism: A Study in Method. Madison WI: University of Wisconsin Press.

  • Bounegru, Liliana and Charles Forceville. 2011. Metaphors in editorial cartoons representing the global financial crisis. Visual Communication 10: 209–229.

  • Burke, Kenneth. 1969. A Rhetoric of Motives. Berkeley CA: University of California Press.

  • Campbell, Karlyn K. and Kathleen H. Jamieson (eds.) 1978. Form and Genre: Shaping Rhetorical Action. Falls Church VA.: Speech Communication Association.

  • Chandler, Daniel. 2007. Semiotics: The Basics (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.

  • Eco, Umberto. 1979. A Theory of Semiotics. Indiana: Indiana University Press.

  • Elleström, Lars (ed.). 2010. Media Borders, Multimodality and Intermediality. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

  • Fisher, Walther R. 1980. Genre: Concepts and applications in rhetorical criticism. Western Journal of Speech Communication 44: 288–299.

  • Fleming, David. 1996. Can pictures be arguments? Argumentation and Advocacy 33: 11–22.

  • Forceville, Charles. 1999a. Educating the eye? Kress and Van Leeuwen’s Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design (1996). Language and Literature 8: 163–178.

  • Forceville, Charles. 1999b. Art or ad?: The influence of genre-attribution on the interpretation of images. SPIEL (Siegener Periodicum zur Internationalen Empirischen Literaturwissenschaft) 18: 279–300.

  • Forceville, Charles. 2005. Addressing an audience: Time, place, and genre in Peter van Straaten’s calendar cartoons. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 18: 247–278.

  • Forceville, Charles. 2006. Non-verbal and multimodal metaphor in a cognitivist framework: Agendas for research. In G. Kristiansen, M. Achard, R. Dirven and F. Ruiz de Mendoza Ibàñez (eds.), Cognitive Linguistics: Current Applications and Future Perspectives, 379–402. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

  • Forceville, Charles. 2010. Review of C. Jewitt (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis (2009). Journal of Pragmatics 42: 2604–2608.

  • Forceville, Charles. 2014. Relevance Theory as model for analysing visual and multimodal communication. In D. Machin (ed.), Visual Communication, 51–70. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

  • Forceville, Charles. in prep. Analyzing Visual and Multimodal Mass-Communication: A Pragmatic Model. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Forceville, Charles and Billy Clark. 2014. Can pictures have explicatures? Linguagem em (Dis)Curso 14: 451–472.

  • Foss, Sonja K. 2009. Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice (4th ed.). Long Grove ILL: Waveland Press.

  • Frow, John. 2006. Genre. London: Routledge.

  • Goffman, Erving. 1974. Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. New York: Harper & Row.

  • Gombrich, Ernst H. 1982. The Image and the Eye: Further Studies in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation. Oxford: Phaidon.

  • Groarke, Leo, Catherine H. Palczewski and David Godden. 2016. Navigating the visual turn in argument. Argumentation and Advocacy 52: 217–235.

  • Hill, Charles A. and Marguerite H. Helmers. 2004. Defining Visual Rhetorics. Mahwah NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

  • Jewitt, Carey (ed.) 2014a. The Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.

  • Jewitt, Carey. 2014b. Introduction to Part I. In C. Jewitt (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis (2nd ed.), 11–14. London: Routledge.

  • Jamieson, Kathleen H. 1973. Generic constraints and the rhetorical situation. Philosophy & Rhetoric 6: 162–170.

  • Johnson, Ralph H. 2003. Why “visual arguments” aren’t arguments. In Hans V. Hansen, J. Christopher Tindale, Anthony Blair and Ralph H. Johnson (eds.), Informal Logic at 25: Proceedings of the Windsor conference, CD-ROM, 1–13. OSSA: Windsor, ON.

  • Johnson, Ralph H. 2010. On the evaluation of visual arguments: Roque and the autonomy thesis. Unpublished conference paper, presented at Persuasion et argumentation: Colloque international organisé par le CRAL à l’ Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, 105 Bd. Raspail, 75006 Paris, Salle 7, 7–9 September 2010.

  • Kenney, K. and Linda M. Scott. 2003. A review of the visual rhetoric literature. In Linda M. Scott and Rajeev Batra (eds.), Persuasive Imagery: A Consumer Response Perspective, 17–56. Mahwah NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

  • Kjeldsen, Jens E. 2007. Visual argumentation in Scandinavian political advertising. A cognitive, contextual and reception oriented approach. Argumentation and Advocacy 43: 124–132.

  • Kjeldsen, Jens E. 2012. Pictorial argumentation in advertising: Visual tropes and figures as a way of creating visual argumentation. In F.H. van Eemeren and B. Garssen (eds.), Topical Themes in Argumentation Theory. Twenty Exploratory Studies, 239–256. Dordrecht: Springer.

  • Kjeldsen, Jens E. 2015a. The study of visual and multimodal argumentation. Argumentation 29: 115–132. doi:10.1007/s10503-015-9348-4

  • Kjeldsen, Jens E. (ed.) 2015b. Visual and Multimodal Argumentation. Special Issue of Argumentation: 29(2).

  • Kjeldsen, Jens E. 2015c. Where is visual argument? In F.H. van Eemeren and B. Garssen (eds.), Reflections on Theoretical Issues in Argumentation Theory, 107–117. Dordrecht: Springer.

  • Kjeldsen, Jens E. 2018. Visual rhetorical argumentation. Semiotica 220: 69–94.

  • Klug, Nina-Maria and Hartmut Stöckl (eds.) 2016. Handbuch Sprache im Multimodalen Kontext [The Language in Multimodal Contexts Handbook]. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

  • Kress, Gunther. 2010. Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication. London: Routledge.

  • Kress, Gunther and Theo van Leeuwen. 1996. Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design. London: Routledge.

  • Kress, Gunther and Theo van Leeuwen. 2001. Multimodal Discourse. London: Arnold.

  • Lakoff, George. 1987. Women, Fire and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Martinec, Radan and Andrew Salway. 2005. A system for image–text relations in new (and old) media. Visual Communication 4: 337–371.

  • Neale, Steve. 2000. Genre and Hollywood. London: Routledge.

  • Olson, Lester C. 2007. Intellectual and conceptual resources for visual rhetoric: A re-examination of scholarship since 1950. The Review of Communication 7: 1–20.

  • Olson, Lester C., Cara A. Finnegan and Diane S. Hope (eds.) 2008. Visual Rhetoric: A Reader in Communication and American Culture. Thousand Oaks CA: Routledge.

  • Paltridge, Brian. 1995. Working with genre: A pragmatic perspective. Journal of Pragmatics 24: 393–406.

  • Patterson, Steven W. 2010. A picture held us captive: The later Wittgenstein and visual argumentation. Cogency 2: 105–134.

  • Peirce, Charles S. 1998. The Essential Peirce: Selected Philosophical Writings (1893–1913) (P.E. Project, P. Peirce Edition, and S. Peirce Edition Project Eds.). Bloomington IN: Indiana University Press.

  • Rigotti, Eddo and Andrea Rocci. 2006. Towards a definition of communication context: Foundations of an interdisciplinary approach to communication. Studies in Communication Sciences 6: 155–180.

  • Royce, Terry and Wendy L. Bowcher (eds.) 2007. New Directions in the Analysis of Multimodal Discourse. Mahwah NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

  • Scollon, Ron and Suzie Wong Scollon. 2003. Discourses in Place: Language in the Material World. London: Routledge.

  • Stöckl, Hartmut. 2015. From text linguistics to multimodality: Mapping concepts and methods across domains. In J. Wildfeuer (ed.), Building Bridges for Multimodal Research: International Perspectives on Theories and Practices of Multimodal Analysis, 51–75. Frankfurt am Main: Lang.

  • Tseronis, Assimakis and Charles Forceville. 2017a. Arguing against corporate claims visually and multimodally: The genre of subvertisements. Multimodal Communication 6: 143–157.

  • Tseronis, Assimakis and Charles Forceville (eds.) 2017b. Multimodal Argumentation and Rhetoric in Media Genres. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

  • Unsworth Len and Chris Cléirigh. 2014. Multimodality and reading: The construction of meaning through image-text. In C. Jewitt (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Multimodality (2nd ed.), 176–188. London: Routledge.

  • Van Eemeren, Frans H. 2010. Strategic Maneuvering in Argumentative Discourse: Extending the Pragma-dialectical Theory of Argumentation, Amsterdam: Benjamins.

  • Ventola, Eija, Cassily Charles and Martin Kaltenbacher (eds.) 2004. Perspectives on Multimodality. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

  • Ventola, Eija and Arsenio Jésus Moya Guijarro (eds.) 2009. The World Told and the World Shown: Issues in Multisemiotics. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 296 97 12
Full Text Views 241 16 6
PDF Downloads 33 12 4