This paper focuses on the integration of experimental research and teaching in the field of multimodal linguistics in Italian universities. The general goal of the research was to explore the meaning-making and narrative potential of hand movements in the American TV series House MD. The project started at the University of Messina, Italy, and was made possible thanks to MWSWeb, a specifically designed online platform that collected the corpus of all the episodes in the TV series. The virtual cooperation of students from several Italian universities as regards annotating the films on the platform was fundamental. A preliminary ‘hands model’ was developed and then embedded in the MWSWeb platform. Subsequently, each student was asked to apply the model to a significant sample of scenes using the visual/verbal tools available. The students were asked to pay attention to recurrent meaning-making patterns in the overall visual/verbal construction of the various episodes arising from the distribution between oral discourse and hand movements, including cases of co-occurrence as well as alternating and complementary distributions. The goal was to reveal distinctive conjunctive and disjunctive patterns of meaning-making that highlight the way in which hands accompany and integrate with oral discourse or alternatively perform actions partly or fully detached from the highly specialised clinical discourse.Students were primed beforehand using virtual means and given a handout with clear guidelines and detailed examples. Moreover, during the annotation process, the students kept a diary where they recorded their doubts, troubles, impressions and the difficult decisions they had to make. There was constant e-tutoring and randomized double checking.The methodology is based on multimodal corpus linguistics, supported by the House Corpus with its tools for the annotation of visual and verbal features and their retrieval through corpus searches. Thanks to the scene-based structure of House Corpus, student annotators were able to retrieve scenes containing hand movements and dialogue in a way that allows side-by side-transcript and video viewings. An important aspect of the paper thus relates to the ways in which, in teaching and training contexts, the annotation of hand movements goes with and improves on more traditional approaches to the use of film in language teaching. At the teaching level, the annotation phase boosted students’ linguistic, analytical and interpretative skills, thus scaffolding and structuring their intercultural digital literacy. The students enjoyed their involvement in the project and showed solid critical thinking skills as they improved their awareness of the integration of different semiotic resources and, last but not least, enjoyed the chance to work in a virtual team. The paper concludes with some suggestions on the project’s potential for further development, involving students from different countries, thus making the reflection on meaning-making resources even more productive as a result of different cultural backgrounds.

Implementing Italian university students' meaning-making awareness through the online annotation of the House MD corpus

Cristina Arizzi
2021-01-01

Abstract

This paper focuses on the integration of experimental research and teaching in the field of multimodal linguistics in Italian universities. The general goal of the research was to explore the meaning-making and narrative potential of hand movements in the American TV series House MD. The project started at the University of Messina, Italy, and was made possible thanks to MWSWeb, a specifically designed online platform that collected the corpus of all the episodes in the TV series. The virtual cooperation of students from several Italian universities as regards annotating the films on the platform was fundamental. A preliminary ‘hands model’ was developed and then embedded in the MWSWeb platform. Subsequently, each student was asked to apply the model to a significant sample of scenes using the visual/verbal tools available. The students were asked to pay attention to recurrent meaning-making patterns in the overall visual/verbal construction of the various episodes arising from the distribution between oral discourse and hand movements, including cases of co-occurrence as well as alternating and complementary distributions. The goal was to reveal distinctive conjunctive and disjunctive patterns of meaning-making that highlight the way in which hands accompany and integrate with oral discourse or alternatively perform actions partly or fully detached from the highly specialised clinical discourse.Students were primed beforehand using virtual means and given a handout with clear guidelines and detailed examples. Moreover, during the annotation process, the students kept a diary where they recorded their doubts, troubles, impressions and the difficult decisions they had to make. There was constant e-tutoring and randomized double checking.The methodology is based on multimodal corpus linguistics, supported by the House Corpus with its tools for the annotation of visual and verbal features and their retrieval through corpus searches. Thanks to the scene-based structure of House Corpus, student annotators were able to retrieve scenes containing hand movements and dialogue in a way that allows side-by side-transcript and video viewings. An important aspect of the paper thus relates to the ways in which, in teaching and training contexts, the annotation of hand movements goes with and improves on more traditional approaches to the use of film in language teaching. At the teaching level, the annotation phase boosted students’ linguistic, analytical and interpretative skills, thus scaffolding and structuring their intercultural digital literacy. The students enjoyed their involvement in the project and showed solid critical thinking skills as they improved their awareness of the integration of different semiotic resources and, last but not least, enjoyed the chance to work in a virtual team. The paper concludes with some suggestions on the project’s potential for further development, involving students from different countries, thus making the reflection on meaning-making resources even more productive as a result of different cultural backgrounds.
9788409345496
Multimodal discourse analysis
TV series
teaching
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/546413
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