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Word and image

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Why does the way a page looks influence how we interpret the information it contains? This free course, Word and image, will examine how typography and images can be combined to improve literary creativity and allow a document to communicate more readily with the reader.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand how visual and verbal modes of communication combine in printed texts to produce meaning(s)
  • evaluate how ideas from semiotics, Formalism and postmodern literary criticism may be used in the analysis and interpretation of multimodal texts
  • understand the significance of shared cultural knowledge and the way multimodal texts are interpreted and valued by readers and society.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 15 hours
  • Updated Thursday 14th April 2016
  • Intermediate level
  • Posted under Educational Practice
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Word and image


Unit image

This course deals with a range of printed literary texts which use visual communication as a meaning-making resource. Different aspects of texts, such as typography and images – and the way they are combined – will be considered with a view to understanding how their analysis can illuminate aspects of literary creativity.

There are examples of creativity in texts which utilise communicative resources beyond the means of language alone, such as plays and other performance art, and the translated Alice in Wonderland which included images made culturally appropriate to a Catalan reader. Here I look more closely at printed texts to see what – and how – combinations of word and image communicate to us as readers. For this, I will be using three approaches: semiotics, a ‘literary studies’ approach, and a look at what postmodern theory can illuminate about visual playfulness in literature.

In this course you will work through the following materials.

Chapter 6 of ‘Word and image’ (allow 7–8 hours).

Reading A: Extracts from 'Signs and myths' by Jonathan Bignell.

Reading B: Extract from 'Narratives of identity and history in settler colony texts' by Clare Bradford.

Reading C: Extracts from 'Postmodernism and the picturebook' by David Lewis.

‘Visual effects in poetry’ (allow about 45 minutes).

‘she being Brand’ (allow about 30 minutes).

Data collection and analysis: multimodal children's literature (ongoing).

This OpenLearn course provides a sample of Level 3 study in Education, Childhood & Youth qualifications [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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