Critical transmodal pedagogies : student teachers play with genre conventions

Govender, Navan N. (2020) Critical transmodal pedagogies : student teachers play with genre conventions. Multimodal Communication, 9 (1). 20190009. ISSN 2230-6587 (

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This paper explores how student teachers navigated moving between different modes of representation from written text to image. This enabled some students to play with genre conventions, rethink the relationship between word and image, and explore multimodality in interesting ways. Working at the intersection of Kress’ work on Multimodality, Newfield’s transmodal moment and the critical literacy project, I designed and implemented a course for English secondary education in one school of education in South Africa. Firstly, this article outlines the course’s aims and assessment to consider how multimodality might feature in a unit of work for student teachers. Specific focus is given to the final assessment task that required students to make a ‘transmodal shift’ from linguistic to visual-linguistic; from written narrative to multimodal storytelling. Secondly, a critical multimodal discourse analysis of students’ visual narratives is applied to explore how critical transmodality enabled some student teachers to imagine beyond traditional narrative structures and explore multimodal semiotic resources in innovative ways, relevant to the secondary English classroom. Finally, I conclude by considering the implications of multimodal semiotic play for both research and classroom practice in language and literacy education, including assessment, the value of non-linguistic modes, and genre as a construct of power.


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