Knowledge Dissemination and Multimodal Literacy: Research Perspectives on ESP in a Digital Age

Pisa, 28-29 November, 2019

Ongoing developments in digital technologies offer an ever-increasing array of new media forms that we now leverage to communicate and interact with others in all walks of life. This trend also clearly emerges in educational settings, where traditional approaches to learning have undergone profound changes that make use of new media resources, such as websites, blogs/forums, social networking sites, OpenCourseWare lectures, TED Talks, as well as digitally available films/TV series, documentaries, and docu-tours. To effectively engage with these resources, learners need to acquire specific competences related to the ability to construct meanings from the multiple semiotic modes (e.g., verbal, visual, aural, spatial, and gestural) that are highly characteristic of texts accessed on digital platforms.

In language teaching, the multimodal approach means helping students become aware of and learn to exploit semiotic modes beyond verbal language in order to cope more effectively with the linguistic, discursive, pragmatic, culture-related, and ideological challenges of the target language, while also acquiring specialized knowledge about a given topic. Linguists working with multimodal and multimedia texts for use in ESP instructional settings are called upon to explore strategies that take into account how multiple semiotic resources contribute to meanings, which can then be implemented to enhance linguistic competence and promote knowledge dissemination among ESP learners. The selection and preparation of materials to be used for these purposes can thus benefit from research that highlights their multimodal/multimedia dimension from various theoretical and analytical perspectives, including multimodal social semiotics, multimodal discourse analysis, multimodal critical discourse analysis, multimodal interaction analysis, as well as the challenges of compiling and analyzing multimodal/multimedia corpora.

The conference intends to provide a platform for research that incorporates innovative approaches and methods for analyzing and applying multimodal and multimedia texts in the context of ESP in higher education settings.

This conference is organized by the members of the Pisa unit of the national interuniversity research project ‘Knowledge dissemination across media in English: continuity and change in discourse strategies, ideologies, and epistemologies’, financed by the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities, and Research (PRIN 2015 no.2015TJ8ZAS)