Call for contributions: Trans-disciplinary Frames for Global Impact

Philosophy and Theory for Critical Global Educators

Consider contributing a chapter to an edited collection on critical global semiotics, which will be complemented nationally and internationally. Critical global semiotics is the systemic study of the multiple modes of doing, having and being, genres and sub-genres across disciplines, cultures, geographies and time.

Academics, research fellows, and teaching staff in Humanities, Arts and Sciences are invited to contribute. We are particularly keen to have papers from Politics, Engineering, Architecture, Science, Pharmacy, Art, Music, History and Museum Studies.

Complex global issues of Social Justice, Human Rights, Conflict Resolution, Environmental Sustainability, Diversity, do not fall neatly into disciplines. Transformational education engages disciples (w)holistically, teaching and learning ‘at-one-ment’ which crosses divides to address urgent global concerns. A critical stance relates global political-economy and cultural-politics to professional ethics. This project seeks to justify the relevance of our daily work, disciplinary worth, communicative strategies, crucial concepts and critical purposes. It will establish the common ground, our creative commons, educational integrity.

The book will critique products, processes and practices from a wide geographical, cultural, disciplinary and professional spectrum. We anticipate applying a Systemic Functional Semiotic framework across diverse disciplinary domains. This may be new to you, but need not prevent your participating in this project. All you require is your disciplinary expertise and willingness to apply a shared framework. Throughout the process we will offer supportive discussion, collaboration, partnership, which involves providing supplementary readings; circulating sample articles; using telephone, skype, and email; also through low-key face-to-face symposia in London for those able to attend.

250-300-word abstracts are invited from subject-based academics, research fellows, and teaching staff. Please submit abstracts by 15 November.

We would be very happy to hear from you, and welcome opportunities to discuss your experience, your work, and your contribution to this project. While approximately 15 scholarly articles will be accepted for the book, other submissions may appear as a bank of resources on the UCL Teaching & Learning Portal.

Further information is available at:

To express interest in this project or arrange a telephone conversation, email Dr Maureen Ellis:

Suggested Readings for Critical Global Semiotics

Suggested Readings for Critical Global Semiotics

Below are supplementary sources which focus mainly on multimodality. Email for suggestions related to your own interests, perhaps in the Critical Realism, Discourse Analysis or other aspects of the project.

  1. Multimodality and Semiotics

Bowcher, W.L. (ed.) (2012) Multimodal Texts From Around the World: Cultural and linguistic

insights. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ellestrom, L. (2010) Media Borders, Multimodality and Intermediality. Houndmills, UK: Palgrave


Hooper-Greenhill, E. (1992) Museums and the Shaping of Knowledge. London: Routledge.

Jewitt, C. (ed.) (2009) The Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis. London: Routledge.

Kress, G. (2010) Multimodality: A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. London:


O’Halloran, K. and Smith, B. (eds) (2011) Multimodal Studies. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Rose, G. (2012) Visual Methodologies: An introduction to researching with visual materials. London: Sage.

  1. Critical Realism, and Systemic Pedagogy

Archer, M., Bhaskar, R., Collier, A., Lawson, T. and Norrie, A. (eds) (1998) Critical Realism: Essential readings. London: Routledge.

Engestrom, Y. (1987) Learning by Expanding: An activity-theoretical approach to developmental research. Available online at (accessed 5.9.2017).

Shipway, B. (2011) A Critical Realist Perspective of Education. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

  1. Critical Discourse Analysis

Burns, A. and Coffin, C. (2001) Analysing English in a Global Context. London: Open University

Fairclough, N. (2010) Critical Discourse Analysis: The critical study of language (2nd edn). Harlow, UK: Pearson.

Wodak, R. and Meyer, M. (2009) Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis. London: Sage.

Systemic Functional Semiotics (SFS)

Critical analysis is crucial to democratic global citizenship. Michael Halliday’s ideational, interpersonal, textual framework enables i. textual analysis, ii. contextual interpretation, and iii. critical evaluation of texts in every ‘language’. Dialectics explores semantic triangles, semiotic trinity, not predictable Author-Reader dialogue, but three-way interaction, interpretation, options, alternatives, conversations which convert consumers into producers.

Systemic Functional Semiotics (C.S.Peirce), the Science of signs, encompasses the multifarious ‘texture’ of all communication, human antics and semantics. SFS is currently being used to analyse multi-modal languages of music, art, advertising, architecture, film, protest march, dance, drama or the performance(s) of daily life, disciplines and discipleship.


Field in which the activity or content belongs: topic choice / drift;

Participants: who or what – specificity or abstraction. Denotation/connotation; objectivation (eg. ‘the prankster’); anonymised; aggregated;

Processes: Transitivity / Intransitivity? Are activities described in material (eg throw),       mental (eg believe), verbal (eg protest), or relational (eg be, have) terms?

Circumstantial information provided: time, place, manner, cause, etc;

Lexis or vocabulary, the domains represented, level of technical terminology, idiom, cliché.


Tenor or relationships between speaker or writer and the receiver of the communication or text; reporting verbs reveal attitude; gaze offers or demands information or goods/services.

Mood: does the text use declarative, interrogative or imperative forms? To what purpose?

Modality: degrees of probability (dynamic), obligation (deontic), certainty (epistemic), eg must, should, can, will…; hedging, disclaimers, mitigation;

Polarity: positive or negative ideas? absent or excluded actors/processes; omissions;

Distance: point of view, camera angle, vulnerable or empowered; Turn-taking, -allocation;

Vocation: terms of address, eg student, professionals, readers, Dear Sir, …;

Person: first, second or third person, eg you, we, he, I, our, …; pose/posture/positioning;

Speech function/performance: statements, invitations, warnings, offers, denial, complaint;

Attitude: Intimacy, Intensity, Affect, Stance, eg unfortunately, luckily, + adjectives


Mode and/or medium of communication, synchronic/diachronic coherence, cohesion, codes linking co-text to context; syntagmatic/paradigmatic choices; syntax (sentence structure).Theme / Rheme: structural arrangement, eg known to unknown, presumed/shared knowledge, familiar to new indicates assumptions, desired emphasis;

Salience: foregrounding/focus/prominence: size, font, location/placement; colour saturation/purity/differentiation/hue, tone, brightness, music, sound fx, phonology, rhythm, stress, intonation, volume, exaggeration/hyperbole;

Reference: sources, cultural symbols, linking, deixis, eg specific times, places, people;

Framing: social distance, close/middle/long shot; frontal/oblique/high/low/eye level angle.

Metaphor, metonymy (substitution eg top brass); synechdoche (part/whole); symbolism.

Conjunction: links of causality, time, contrasts, justifications versus factual statements categorically delivered indicate assumptions i.e. epistemic vs deontic or boulomaic modality.

Discourse for Deliberative Democracy: Unlocking Cryptogrammar   

Structural vs Discoursal: A discourse approach to Language learning and teaching:

i) respects context, social relations, genre/hybridity, use over usage, agency, life;

ii) acknowledges ‘voice’, intertextuality, values, ethical, moral, social issues beneath dominant routines; distinguishes ‘dead’ texts, structures, mere rhetoric, from re-levant, ‘live’, ‘open’ ‘texts’;

iii) skills communication: macro top-down alongside micro bottom-up;

iv) addresses today’s semiotic glut of multi-media, multi-modal ‘text’ forms;

v) satisfies learner-centred pedagogy, myth, and (w)holistic motivation.

2. Strategies for closer observation, oppositional reading, and dialoguing with text:

i) Volume: proportion of attention, focus, balance; reference (anaphoric importance, cataphoric suspense, exophoric flattering); repetition, hesitation, repair.

ii) Generality or specificity: concrete/ abstract; literal / metaphoric; individual / collective; immediate / mediated; present state, event, action, perception / history and background; permanent/ temporary; short term / long term; local / global; subjective / objective; lay/ technical; synonyms, gradable antonyms, euphemisms?

iii) Prominence: form of argument, logic, strategies, functions, sequencing of propositions eg generalisation, causality, conditionality, contrast, example …;

iv) Relevance / highlight: + – modifiers, adverbials, semantic prosody, discourse engineering. Corpus linguistics for lexical frequency, concordance, collocations.

v) Implicit vs explicit: Assumptions, insinuation, presuppositions; given theme / new rheme; apparent denial, empathy, concession; Modality; Tense;

vi) Inclusion vs exclusion: pronouns may identify collocational ‘enemies’ and ‘friends’; dichotomies; social deixis; intertextual references;

vii) Attribution of agency, responsibility, blame: nominalisation or functional honorific, passives, reifications; politeness and face; Speech Act analysis.

viii) Perspective or point of view: schema, values, thoughts, perceptions, deixis;

ix) Fact ~ opinion: mapping discourse structure; direct / indirect / free speech and thought representation; transitivity analysis; identifying attitude, irony, sarcasm, satire; Grice’s maxims of Quantity, Quality, Relevance, Manner;

x) Stakeholder voices: uni- or vari-directional voicing; silences, gaps, obfuscations, contrived congeniality, pluralist relativism or deliberation; accent, dialect, variety.

Remember:  to practise these skills, you will need to provide your students with challenging multi-modal, multi-media, open-ended ‘texts’ for discussion and debate: advertisements, political manifestos, cartoons, conversations, songs, poems, posters, pictures, tweets ….