When context changes

The need for a dynamic notion of context in multimodal argumentation

In: International Review of Pragmatics
View More View Less
  • 1 University of Bremen
  • 2 Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Italy


This paper highlights the notion of dynamic context as an indispensable pragmatic aspect of multimodal argumentation and exemplifies a context-based approach to multimodal arguments with an analysis of the Mophie 2015 Super Bowl commercial. Whereas in dynamic semantics and verbal discourse analysis the notion of dynamic context and its context change potential are significant patterns for the analysis, argumentation theorists have not yet fully included these patterns in their discussions. The paper argues that multimodal argumentative genres such as commercials and movie trailers often work with a dynamically changing interpretation, which, at the end, reveals their persuasive patterns and final claims. It demonstrates that it is absolutely necessary for a detailed analysis of the argumentation in these multimodal genres to include the contextual influence and dynamic change potential. The paper thus emphasizes the need for an inclusion of the notion of dynamic context in methods and frameworks dealing with the complexity of multimodal argumentation.

  • Asher, Nicholas and Alex Lascarides. 2003. Logics of Conversation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Bateman, John A. and Janina Wildfeuer. 2014. A Multimodal Discourse Theory of Visual Narrative. Journal of Pragmatics 74: 180–208.

  • Birdsell, David and Leo Groarke. 1996. Toward a Theory of Visual Argument. Argumentation and Advocacy 33: 1–10.

  • Birdsell, David and Leo Groarke. 2007. Outlines of a Theory of Visual Argument. Argumentation and Advocacy 43: 103–113.

  • Blair, Anthony J. 1996. The Possibility and Actuality of Visual Arguments. Argumentation and Advocacy 33(1): 23–39.

  • Bitzer, Lloyd F. 1968. The Rhetorical Situation. Philosophy and Rhetoric 1: 1–14.

  • Finnegan, Cara A. 2001. The Naturalistic Enthymeme and Visual Argument: Photographic Representation in the Skull Controversy. Argumentation and Advocacy 37: 133–149.

  • Gerritsen, Susanne. 2001. Unexpressed premises. In F.H. Van Eemeren (ed.), Crucial Concepts in Argumentation Theory, 51–79. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

  • Groarke, Leo. 2002. Towards a Pragma-Dialectics of Visual Argument. In F.H. Van Eemeren (ed.), Advances in Pragma-Dialectics, 137–151. Amsterdam: Sic Sat/ Virginia: Vale Press, Newport News.

  • Hobbs, Jerry R. 1979. Coherence and Coreference. Cognitive Science 3(1): 67–82.

  • Hobbs, Jerry R. 1990. Literature and Cognition. Stanford: Lecture Notes.

  • 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, 239–255. Dordrecht: Springer.

  • McCabe, Mary M. 2015. Arguments in Context: Aristotle’s Defense and Rhetoric. In D.J. Furley and A. Nehamas (eds.), Aristotle’s Rhetoric: Philosophical Essays, 129–166. Berlin/Boston: Princeton University Press.

  • Nouwen, Rick, Adrian Brasoveanu, Jan van Eijck and Albert Visser. 2016. Dynamic Semantics. In E.N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Downloadable at http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2016/entries/dynamic-semantics/ [last accessed: 09 January 2017].

  • Peirce, Charles S., Charles Hartshorne and Peter Weiss. 1979. The Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

  • Rigotti, Eddo. 2008. Locus a causa finali. L’Analisi Linguistica e Letteraria 16(2): 559–576.

  • Rigotti, Eddo and Andrea Rocci. 2006. Towards a Definition of Communication Context. Foundations of an Interdisciplinary Approach to Communication. Studies in Communication Sciences 6(2): 155–180.

  • Ripley, M. Louise. 2008. Argumentation Theorists Argue that an Ad is an Argument. Argumentation 22: 507–519.

  • Roberts, Craig. 2004. Context in Dynamic Interpretation. In L.R. Horn and G. Ward (eds.), The Handbook of Pragmatics, 197–220. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Roque, Georges. 2015. Should Visual Arguments Be Propositional in Order to Be Arguments? Argumentation 29: 177–195.

  • Tomkovick, Chuck, Rama Yelkur and Lori Christians. 2001. The USA’s Biggest Marketing Event Keeps Getting Bigger: An In-Depth Look at Super Bowl Advertising in the 1990s. Journal of Marketing Communications 7(2): 89–108.

  • Van den Hoven, Paul. 2012. Getting Your Ad Banned to Bring the Message Home? A Rhetorical Analysis of an Ad on the US National Debt. Informal Logic 32(4): 381–402.

  • Van den Hoven, Paul. 2015. Cognitive Semiotics in Argumentation: A Theoretical Exploration. Argumentation 29: 157–175.

  • Van den Hoven, Paul and Ying Yang. 2013. The Argumentative Reconstruction of Multimodal Discourse, Taking the ABC Coverage of President Hu Jintao’s Visit to the USA as an Example. Argumentation 27: 403–424.

  • Van Dijk, Teun. 2008. Discourse and Context: A Socio-Cognitive Account. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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

  • Van Eemeren, Frans H. 2011. In Context. Giving Contextualization its Rightful Place in the Study of Argumentation. Argumentation 25(2): 141–161.

  • Van Eemeren, Frans H. and Rob Grootendorst. 2004. A Systematic Theory of Argumentation: The Pragma-dialectical Approach. New York: Cambridge University Press.

  • Van Eemeren, Frans H., Rob Grootendorst and A.F. Snoeck Henkemans. 2002. Argumentation: Analysis, Evaluation, Presentation. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

  • Van Eemeren, Frans H. and Peter Houtlosser. 2009. Strategic Maneuvering: Examining Argumentation in Context. In F.H. Van Eemeren (ed.), Examining Argumentation in Context. Fifteen Studies on Strategic Maneuvering, 1–24. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

  • Wildfeuer, Janina. 2014. Film Discourse Interpretation. Towards a New Paradigm for Multimodal Film Analysis. London/New York: Routledge.

  • Wildfeuer, Janina. 2018. It’s All About Logics?! Analyzing the Rhetorical Structure of Multimodal Filmic Text. Semiotica 220: 95–121.

  • Wildfeuer, Janina and Chiara Pollaroli. 2017. Seeing the Untold: Multimodal Argumentation in Movie Trailers. In A. Tseronis and C. Forceville (eds.), Multimodal Argumentation and Rhetoric in Media Genres, 189–216. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

  • Yelkur, Rama, Chuck Tomkovick and Patty Traczyk. 2004. Super Bowl Advertising Effectiveness: Hollywood Finds the Games Golden. Journal of Advertising Research 44(1): 143–159.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 111 50 0
Full Text Views 199 11 1
PDF Downloads 22 10 0