Vanity Fea

Hypermedia Selves

Organiza la sección de narrativa de la Poetics and Linguistics Association un congreso sobre "Narración y Multimodalidad" en el que se prometen oír cosas muy interesantes. (Conference at the School of English, U of Birmingham: Narrative and Multimodality - 27th-28th April, 2007).

Repesco de su web ( List of Abstracts) el resumen un artículo especialmente interesante de Paul J. Thibault sobre los blogs y la representación de la identidad, a cotejar con el libro Viviane Serfaty que reseñé: The Mirror and the Veil: An Overview of American Online Diaries and Blogs. Aquí está la reseña en versión completa, y aquí en PDF la versión recortada que apareció en Atlantis. También en mi sección temática sobre blogs trato a veces yo temas similares. Creo que voy a abrir aquí una vanity section sobre autoanálisis de este blog...  El tema de la narratividad que toca Thibault también me ha traído a vueltas últimamente, pero aún no me he puesto a analizar en detalle la narratividad específica de los blogs. En este abstract hay un buen comienzo:

Paul J. Thibault, Agder University College, Kristiansand, Norway
HYPERMEDIA Selves and Hypermodal Stories: Narrativity, agency and meaning-making in personal blogs

People create stories to make sense of their lives to themselves and others (Bruner 2001, Harré 2001). In their self-narratives, people reflect on and transform their personal experience through the emergent meanings that they create and discover along the trajectory of the narrative. Narratives are situated and reflexive: they are tied to the perspectives and values of the selves who narrate their lives and they enact a form of reflexive or second-order consciousness that interacts with first-order consciousness of what is experienced and in this way the second level experiences the experiencing as a knowing self. Narratives are also characterised by their power to connect the heterogeneity of events experienced, activities participated in and meanings made into an overall sense of unity that gives a sense of wholeness and continuity to one's life.

Hypermedia meaning-making practices strongly foreground cross-scalar and cross-modal linkages in the creation of a hypertext trajectory in ways that disrupt this (always constructed) sense of wholeness and continuity. Hypermedia narratives of the self in personal blogs foreground the movement of the self between different institutional places and contexts and their associated meanings and practices. The technological affordances of the Internet and hypermedia and the new kinds of meanings and practices that have emerged through the reorganization of precursor technologies, media, practices and meanings have made this possible. Through their hypermedia traversals (Lemke 2002) or trajectories (Baldry and Thibault 2006: chap. 3), bloggers connect meanings, media and semiotic modalities from potentially many different persons, activities, contexts and places and weave them into the temporal trajectory of their self-narratives. In doing so, they enact and represent themselves and their relations with others in cyber space. In the process, they foreground the tensions, inconsistencies and contradictions between different contexts, different media, different institutions, and their associated activities, meanings and voices. They accordingly draw attention to the manner in which the strong insulation of contexts 'in' separate times and places, along with the concomitant separation of their meanings, roles and activities, obscures these same contradictions.

In this paper, I will look at the ways in which the hypermedia traversals of bloggers across diverse institutional times, places and activities emphasise the construction of multiple identities and multiple communities of practice by virtue of the way in which agents move between multiple and parallel activities and contexts which place very different demands on the self. The narrative construction of the 'self' in personal blogs thus involves horizontal movements between various activities and their participants. I will also look at the kinds of social spaces that are produced in and through the meaning-making practices of personal blogs, the hypermedia trajectories created, the forms of multimodal semiotic integration that emerge, the forms of embodiment that agents in the virtual space of the web enact and the ways in which they represent this space to themselves and others.

Some relevant questions: How do 'real' physical space, cognized (represented, symbolized) space and cyber space interact? How do agents position themselves in this nexus of spatial relations? How does cyberspace transform our familiar spatial orientations yet remain tied to them? What kind of alternative forms of place and embodiment are created in the personal narratives of bloggers? A key area to be explored here are the forms of multimodal interdiscursivity whereby the hypermedia traversals of bloggers construct relationships between different genres and semiotic modalities – linguistic and non-linguistic – in ways which enable bloggers to both enact and represent diverse social identities and to resist others. In the case of hypermedia web-based genres like personal blogs, this form of analysis requires the tools of multimodal discourse analysis in order to analyse the ways in which diverse semiotic modalities are coordinated in the enacting and representing of the narratives of the self which bloggers create. Recent work on multimodal text and discourse analysis (e.g. Kress and Van Leeuwen 2001; Lemke 2002; O'Halloran 2004; O'Toole 1994; Thibault 2000, 2004, 2006; Baldry and Thibault 2006) will inform this perspective and will be used to analyse a number of examples of personal blogs and other hypermedia self-narratives.


Baldry, Anthony and Thibault, Paul J. (2006). Multimodal Transcription and Text Analysis: A multimedia toolkit and coursebook. Foreword by Jay Lemke. London and Oakville, CT: Equinox.

Bruner, Jerome 2001. 'Self-making and world-making'. In Jens Brockmeier and Donal Carbaugh (eds.), Narrative and Identity. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 25-37.

Harré, Rom 2001. 'Metaphysics and narrative: singularities and multiplicities of self'. In Jens Brockmeier and Donal Carbaugh (eds.), Narrative and Identity. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 59-73.

Kress, Gunther, Van Leeuwen, Theo (2001). Multimodal Discourse: The modes and media of contemporary communication. London: Arnold.
Lemke, Jay L. (2002). 'Travels in hypermodality'. Visual Communication, 1(3), 299-325.

O'Halloran, Kay (2004). "Visual semiosis in film". In Kay O"Halloran (ed.), Multimodal Discourse Analysis: Systemic Functional Perspectives. London and New York, Continuum, pp. 109-130.

O'Toole, Michael (1994). The Language of Displayed Art. London: Leicester University Press.

Thibault, Paul (2000). 'The multimodal transcription of a television advertisement: theory and practice'. In Anthony Baldry (ed.), Multimodality and Multimediality in the Distance Learning Age. Campobasso, Palladino Editore, pp. 311-385.

Thibault, Paul J. (2004). Agency and Consciousness in Discourse: Self-other dynamics as a complex system. London and New York: Continuum.
Thibault, Paul J. (2006). 'Multimodal Meanings and Trajectories: or Some Reflections on Hypertextual Stories, Place, Embodiment, and Agency in CyberSpace'. Guest lecture, Università di Trieste, 28-11-2006.

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