Theses Doctoral

Multimodal Hermeneutics: Aesthetic Response to Literature in the English Language Arts Classroom

Blom, Nathan

This narrative inquiry explores the implementation of multimodal, aesthetic responses to literature in my 12th grade English Language Arts classroom during the spring of 2018. Specifically, the study examines a unit of study for the novel The Color Purple, in which student received arts-based instruction from three different guest teaching artists and were asked to create multimodal final projects that expressed their understanding of the novel.

Informed by social semiotic multimodality, the aesthetic theories of Dewey and Rosenblatt, and Bakhtin’s dialogism, this dissertation investigates the ways in which multimodal response to literature serves as a mechanism for making meaning and relevance for students. In light of the dominance of verbocentric modalities of constructing and expressing meaning within institutional schooling, this study explores the possibilities of non-verbocentric modalities and their potential role within the ELA classroom.

Examining my data – field notes, audio recordings, video recordings, student surveys and student artifacts – through the lenses of the creation-reflection semiotic cycle (Dewey), and of modal affordances and modal fixing (Kress), I conclude that multimodal response can provide students with important mechanisms for understanding and engaging with literature. Specifically, I lay forth guiding principles for anchoring multimodal response to literary meaning, and for using multimodal response to invite students into the discourse community of the classroom.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Blau, Sheridan
Vinz, Ruth
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
July 27, 2020