Multimodal and monomodal discourses of marketization in higher education : power, ideology, and the absence of the image

Mills, Kathy A. (2013) Multimodal and monomodal discourses of marketization in higher education : power, ideology, and the absence of the image. In Education and Poverty : Theory, Research, Policy and Praxis : Proceedings of AERA Annual Meeting 2013, American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, Calif.

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The ubiquity of multimodality in hypermedia environments is undeniable. Bezemer and Kress (2008) have argued that writing has been displaced by image as the central mode for representation. Given the current technical affordances of digital technology and user-friendly interfaces that enable the ease of multimodal design, the conspicuous absence of images in certain domains of cyberspace is deserving of critical analysis. In this presentation, I examine the politics of discourses implicit within hypertextual spaces, drawing textual examples from a higher education website.

I critically examine the role of writing and other modes of production used in what Fairclough (1993) refers to as discourses of marketisation in higher education, tracing four pervasive discourses of teaching and learning in the current economy: i) materialization, ii) personalization, iii) technologisation, and iv) commodification (Fairclough, 1999). Each of these arguments is supported by the critical analysis of multimodal texts. The first is a podcast highlighting the new architectonic features of a university learning space. The second is a podcast and transcript of a university Open Day interview with prospective students. The third is a time-lapse video showing the construction of a new science and engineering precinct.

These three multimodal texts contrast a final web-based text that exhibits a predominance of writing and the powerful absence or silencing of the image. I connect the weightiness of words and the function of monomodality in the commodification of discourses, and its resistance to the multimodal affordances of web-based technologies, and how this is used to establish particular sets of subject positions and ideologies through which readers are constrained to occupy. Applying principles of critical language study by theorists that include Fairclough, Kress, Lemke, and others whose semiotic analysis of texts focuses on the connections between language, power, and ideology, I demonstrate how the denial of image and the privileging of written words in the multimodality of cyberspace is an ideological effect to accentuate the dominance of the institution.

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ID Code: 52711
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: higher education, disourses, marketization, commodification, multimodality, writing, absence of image, semiotics, critical, HERN
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Higher Education (130103)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Children & Youth Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Past > Schools > School of Cultural & Language Studies in Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 please consult the author
Copyright Statement: This abstract cannot be reproduced in part or in full without permission from the author.
Deposited On: 25 Jul 2012 01:18
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2014 09:21

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