Multimodality in Early-modern Books: Enhancing Texts Through Images

Laura Moretti (The University of Cambridge)
Joshua Mostow (University of British Columbia)
Pre-modern Literature
Torre B, Piso 1, Auditório 1
Start time:
31 August, 2017 at 14:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

By studying multimodality, i.e. the combination of different ways of making meanings, in a variety of under-researched Edo-period printed books, this panel explores the ways in which text and image interact and create a new, powerful overall meaning beyond that of the verbal text alone.

Long abstract:

Claims made at the end of the twentieth century with regard to visual and pictorial cultural 'turns' (Mitchell 1994) have laid the groundwork for studies of visual communication in the research agendas of many disciplines, including Japanese studies and Japanese literature. See for example the most recent conference of the Association of Japanese Literary Studies (2016) that focussed on 'word/image/Japan'. This panel is intended to make a fresh contribution to this emerging field of study. It does so by exploring the phenomenon of multimodality, i.e. the combination of different ways of making meanings (Bateman 2014), in a variety of Edo-period sources. We will be exploring substantially uncharted territories by looking at books on clothing (_hinagatabon_), a non-narrative Chinese text (_Kobun kōkyō_), and works published both as illustrated books (_eiri hanpon_) and picture-books (_ehon_) (_Ise monogatari_ and _Ikkyū banashi_ respectively) in our three papers. The panel as a whole is interested in understanding how text and image not only co-occur in early-modern texts but also co-determine the meanings of the whole. We intend to scrutinize the combination of the visual and the verbal with a view to study the complex possible interactions between these two modes of meaning-making. The three papers will shed light on the variety of images that can be found in early-modern printed texts, looking at ancillary, correlative and substantive images (Pegg 2002) among others. At the same time they will discuss a variety of forms displayed by the textual-visual dialogue, including but not limited to symmetrical relation, complementarity, enhancement, and contradiction (Nikolajeva and Scott 2001). The study of multimodality in early-modern books will also prompt more radical questions. Can images be treated as verbal texts? Can a different page layout affect the overall meaning of a verbal text? To what extent was the combination of text and image an editorial strategy put in place by the publishers rather than by authors and/or illustrators? The original findings from each paper will be drawn together into a coherent narrative by the panel discussant.