Rhetoric and Multimodality

Even (more so) in pandemic times, there is never enough breathing space to properly contemplate what one has accomplished. Only three months after completion do I get to reflect on another insightful and formative project I had the pleasure of doing together with my colleague Jana PFLAEGING. In March, we finished editing a special issue for ‚Visual Communication‘ on ‚The Rhetoric of Multimodal Communication‘. In some ways, this was a spin-off from our 2019 Salzburg workshop on methods of multimodal analysis.

This special issue sets out to interrogate ways in which the concerns of both research areas (rhetoric and multimodality research) intersect and interact. Our intention is to illustrate that age-old rhetorical theory can supply concepts and methods that are suited to studying multimodal communicative processes. (…) First, we set out to explore various multimodal genres in different media with a specific view to their rhetorical design. Second, as each contribution inevitably addresses methodological questions, the special issue will also be in a position to add to and refine the approaches to multimodal rhetorical analysis. The perspectives adopted here come from multimodal argumentation, graphic design studies, text-image relations, reception studies and multimodal semiotics.

Jana PFLAEGING/Hartmut STÖCKL, Editorial Special Issue/Journal of Visual Communication ‚The Rhetoric of Multimodal Communication‘.

I am grateful for the many excellent contributions: especially Assimakis TSERONIS on multimodal figures and rhetoric in magazine front cover design, Anniek PLOMP & Charles FORCEVILLE on the rhetoric of animentaries, Jens E. KJELDSEN & Aaron HESS on the reception of multimodal rhetoric in political advertising. I am indebted to Jana PFLAEGING for her excellent editing work and the wonderful design of the cover (cf. image). I thank Janina Wildfeuer (University of Groningen, NL) and Louise RAVELLI (UNSW, Sydney) for the care and thoroughness they put into the editing of all contributions and the editorial.

Image: Cover Design by Jana Pflaeging (for Visual Communication)

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