Introducing Ethnohistorical Research to Multimodal Studies

O'Hagan, Lauren (2022). Introducing Ethnohistorical Research to Multimodal Studies. Multimodality and Society, 2(4) pp. 355–378.



This paper reflects on the importance of archival research to the analysis of historical multimodal texts. Specifically, it put forwards a “multimodal ethnohistorical” approach, offering a guide to the key principles and resources that underpin the methodology and using examples from past research to demonstrate its effectiveness. The paper argues that multimodal ethnohistory can help address many of the criticisms around text-based multimodal analysis and its lack of attention to the broader social practices, processes and people involved in the production or reception of texts. The proposed methodology, thus, hopes to open up a debate about the need to gain a greater appreciation of the past to place contemporary multimodal texts within a broader trajectory of patterned practices and uses, thereby fostering a deeper awareness of how certain semiotic and compositional choices are rooted in earlier historical conventions of meaning-making but have evolved over time in response to technological change.

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