Public Lecture, Theo van Leeuwen: ‘Multimodality and culture – the case of construction toys’ – 14th Nov 2013

In this lecture I will look at the history of construction toys as a semiotic resource, demonstrating how their constraints and affordances have changed as they moved from the industrial age to the information age, and from Meccano to online LEGO.

I will argue that a social semiotic analysis of multimodal semiotic resources needs to be embedded in an account of the cultural history of these resources if it has to have any explanatory power.

And I will show that the outcomes of this exploration can be applied also to other semiotic resources, not least the resources we use to create texts, multimodal or otherwise.

Theo van Leeuwen worked as a film and television producer in his native Holland and Australia. Later he studied linguistics in Sydney and Paris, and variously taught film production, media studies and semiotics at Macquarie University, the London College of Printing and Cardiff University. Between 2005 and 2013 he was Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Sydney, and since September 2013, he is Professor of Language and Communication at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, Honorary Professor at Lancaster University and Visiting Professor at the Institute of Education, London. He has published widely in the areas of social semiotics, critical discourse analysis and multimodality. His books include Reading Images – The Grammar of Visual Design (with Gunther Kress); Speech, Music, Sound; Introducing Social Semiotics; Global Media Discourse (with David Machin); and Discourse and Practice – New Tools for Critical Discourse Analysis and The Language of Colour. With Carey Jewitt, he is a founding editor of the international journal Visual Communication.

17:30-18:30, 14th November 2013 in the Jeffrey Hall at the Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AL

The lecture is free to attend but places must be booked at the online registration page

For  more details contact Anna Waring