The following key texts may be of interest to researchers interested in Multimodality and Literacy as Social Practice:
Gee, J.P. (2004) Situated Language and Learning: A critique of traditional schooling, London and New York: Routledge.
In this major work, Gee raises fundamental questions about the nature of learning in the twenty-first century. He contrasts the specialist varieties of language that are used in disciplines such as mathematics and the sciences with learning outside the classroom, particularly video and computer games. He explores how children learn and play with new technologies and with others, and asks what these relatively new forms of engagement can teach us about how to improve learning in schools.
Halliday, M. (1978) Language as Social Semiotic: the social interpretation of language and meaning. London: Edward Arnold.
This seminal work sets out a robust theoretical framework for understanding the interdependent relationship between language and social context, and for investigating how communicative events are shaped by both social and linguistic processes.
Heath, S.B. (1983) Ways with Words: Language, Life and Work in Communities and Classrooms, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
In this classic study of children learning language and literacy in two communities just a few miles apart in south-eastern United States of America, Heath shows the deep cultural differences between a white working-class community of families steeped for generations in the life of textile mills (‘Roadville’), and a black working-class community whose older generations farmed the land but who now work in the textile mills (Trackton). Writing as an ethnographer, social historian and teacher, Heath traces the children’s uses of language in school and in their homes, revealing how the disjunctures and overlaps between home and school literacy practices can underpin communication problems in schools and workplaces.
Jewitt, C. (2009) (eds) Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis, Abingdon: Routledge.
This is a useful guide to conducting multimodal analysis, which synthesizes key literature in the field and clarifies terms and concepts. It includes 22 chapters written by leading researchers in the field, covering methodological and theoretical approaches, and featuring case studies as exemplars of multimodal analysis.
Kress, G. (2010) Multimodality: A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication Routledge: London.
This recent addition to the study of multimodality from presents a comprehensive theoretical framework for the study of the topic, which sets out to locate communication in the everyday and presents a clear view of meaning-making where human agency is at the centre. It is written in an accessible manner, with many examples of data, sample analyses and suggestions for further reading.
Kress, G. and Van Leeuwen, T. (2001) Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication, London: Edward Arnold.
Written in 2001, this book outlines a new theoretical framework for understanding communication in an era of interactive multimedia, with a focus on the interaction between the design and production of communicative messages. The authors emphasize communicative practice and interactivity, and draw on a wide range of examples that explore how people use communicative modes and media in interactive instances of communicative practice.
Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2006, 2nd ed). New literacies: Everyday Practices and Classroom Learning. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.
In this accessible book, Lankshear and Knobel discuss how new media are transforming ways of making meaning and knowing in the digital age, and argue that education has failed to respond to how the world has changed during the information technology revolution.
Street, B.V. (1984) Literacy in Theory and Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
In this text, Street sets out his challenge of conventional theories about literacy, and provides a new perspective for viewing the variety of literacy practices across different social and cultural practices. The author analyses in detail arguments about the ‘technical’ and ‘neutral’ nature of literacy and its supposed ‘cognitive’ consequences in the work of some psychologists, linguists and social anthropologists, and claims that these amount to a coherent but flawed model that he terms the ‘autonomous’ model of literacy. Against this he poses an ‘ideological’ model, which pays greater attention to literacy as embedded in social practice, and uses this new perspective to construct a coherent theory for further work.
Heath, S. B. and Street, B. V. (2008) On Ethnography: Approaches to Language and literacy Research New York: Teachers College Press.
In this volume, the authors draw on their own broad experiences of conducting ethnographic fieldwork, and on those of a novice ethnographer, to provide clear discussions of research practices. Weaving together narratives of practice and theory, the authors frame ethnography as a process of theory building enquiry about the nature of language, literacy and social practice.