Towards a multimodal description of a demonstration performed at a science festival

Date: Thursday 16th of June 2016 , 5:00-6:30 pm

Venue: UCL Knowledge Lab, 23-29 Emerald Street, WC1N 3QS

Ana Rita Claro Rodrigues, Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities doctoral researcher ICCESS – Imperial College Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science

Science Communication is now a widespread spread and recognisable practice, emerging from academic settings under policies of literacy, openness and impact.  Many universities and research based institutions have regular and/or major sci comm events, such as Science Festivals. While the expertise of the professionals developing these activities has become more recognised, this is limited to the knowledge of the paradigms involved, from literacy to citizen participation. The expertise involved in performing these events is mostly attributed to the intuition, passion and natural empathy the presenter can convey on the spot of the event, and not formally addressed as an explicit expertise which can be developed and planned for. This focus makes the development of these events widely focused on the structure of narrative, but not on its performance.

My study uses video data from a demonstration simulating a medical procedure, which was repeated 8 times over 2 days at the Cheltenham Science Festival. I am developing methodological tools to allow a multimodal description of this type of face to face, interactive and multimodal events. A multimodal description will make visible not only the spoken content, but also the richness of the material and performative modes used. Making explicit and naming the salient modes and media used, as well as their relationships, will allow a professional lexicon to evolve, allowing sharing, analysis and redesign of events and their planning. Developing a language and descriptors is crucial to our understanding of how meaning can be made during and event, and better plan for the achievement of outcomes and their evaluation, attending to all potential modes of meaning making.

In this session I will describe the setting of these activities, show preliminary analysis, discuss the challenges I have been facing with adopting a multimodal stance and invite comments and suggestions to my methodology.

The Visual and Multimodal Research Forum is a student run platform for academic discussion on multimodality and open to all postgraduate research students and other researchers at UCL Institute of Education and elsewhere. Participation is free. Please contact Sophia Diamantopoulou, Forum Coordinator, at for any queries.


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