Events 2017

Subject: Writer’s Workshop

Date: 1-3 November

Place: Mont Fleur, Stellenbosch


Subject: Methodology for Exploring ‘Multimodal Competence’

Date: To be confirmed

Presenter: Akisha Pearman


Subject: To be confirmed

Date: 6 September 2017

Presenter: Christine Thorne


Subject: Writer’s Workshop

Date: 11 August 2017

Facilitator: Lucia Thesen


Subject: Graphic Notation: Creating Collaborative Physical Theatre in a Deaf Multilingual Learning Environment

Date: 17 May 2017

Presenter: Brendon Bussy


This paper is an overview of an experimental collaborative physical theatre
making process with deaf learners at a South African deaf school. Learners
were introduced to a vocabulary of pictograms and logograms derived from
graphical systems such as Sutton SignWriting, Blissymbols and Dance
notation, and systems used for electronic communication such as Emoji and
IConji. These were used to describe physical action, time, space and objects.
Using hand written index cards, a sequential graphic score was created as the
performance developed.

Communicating concepts quickly and fluently can be difficult in multilingual
deaf environments. Often teacher and learner do not share common primary
languages. Adding to this issues of low literacy levels, an efficient mode of
communication is needed that is malleable and quick to master and share.
Graphical languages offer the possibility of communication independent of
literacy levels.

This project explores graphical language as an easily adaptable medium.
Bringing together a ‘mash up’ of graphical language systems, hand written
graphics can be adapted and changed by the participants in a collaborative
process resulting in a fluid language tool.

The potential flexibility of the approach within the context of Physical Theatre
and a multilingual learning environment, suggests a broader application within
other learning areas for deaf learners and other learners struggling with
language. Examples include use as a bridge for introducing written language
(as SignWriting is used to teach written aural languages to deaf learners) and
for expressing understanding of ideas when learners are not yet comfortable
with writing aural language. These include subjects that rely on spatial,
movement and time based concepts such as Design, Drama and Music, as well
as Science subjects which require similar concepts to be communicated.



Subject: Place and Semiotic Practice Colloquium, London Knowledge Lab

Date: 5 April 2017

Place: UCL Knowledge Lab, 23 Emerald Street, London

Presenters: Arlene Archer, Robert Prince, Zach Simpson, Akisha Pearman, Safia Salaam


The workshop is part of the project “Multimodal text and
pedagogies in Higher Education” which is financed by The Swedish
Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher
Education (STINT) the South African National Research Foundation
(NRF) under the ”South Africa–Sweden Bilateral Scientific Research
Cooperation Programme” umbrella (2016–2018). The project is coordinated
by Arlene Archer, Cape Town, and Anders Björkvall,
Örebro. The London workshop is the fourth for the funding cycle.
The first took place in Stockholm in February 2016, the second in
Copenhagen in May, the third in Cape Town in December 2016.
The workshop in London focuses on ‘place and semiotic practice’.
One main collaborative part of our project revolves around graffiti
and other types of informal writings, drawings and inscriptions in
places and spaces in higher education in Sweden and South Africa.
We have documented such texts in public and semi-public places
such as lecture rooms, corridors, and toilets. Research foci include
‘the meaning of the banal in higher education settings’, ‘scrabbling
and materiality in the digital era’ and ‘embodiment and meaning
making of bored people in places of higher education’, and ‘grafitti
and activism’. Five guests have been invited to the workshop to
present their perspectives on, and interpretations of, ‘place and
semiotic’, but also to comment on the work of the participants of the
Swedish/South African group of researchers.

For more information: STINT NRF London workshop 5 April 2017


Subject: Online and Analogue Banality in the Landscapes of Higher Education

Date: 22 March 2017

Presenter: Gustav Westberg


At the SAME-seminar I will be talking about semiotic landscapes in environments of higher education. I will suggest the concept of ‘banality’ (Billig, 1999) as a starting point for studying such landscapes (Thurlow & Jaworski, 2010) and the presentation aims to initiate a discussion on how we can approach banal meaning making and the textual mediation of places of higher education by working with a diverse corpus.

Within the Swedish-South African research project ‘Multimodal texts and pedagogies in Higher Education’ we have been documenting scrawl and graffiti at different universities in Sweden, South Africa and Germany. However, at least in Sweden, performing (physical) scrawl and graffiti seems to be a declining semiotic activity at universities. Instead, production of anonymous and banal public messages has gone online and today we find scrawl in smartphone applications such as Jodel. Jodel targets campus communities and is marketed as “The buzz on your campus” and as “the community that shows you what´s happening in your area in real-time” ( Jodel-posts, or “Jodels” as they are called, are geotagged and thus possible to locate as “very near” a specific campus.

At the seminar, I will compare and discuss how physical scrawl on the one hand and Jodels, geotagged as “very near” Stockholm University, on the other hand relate thematically. The comparison shows that similar topics and themes are negotiated in the digital and physical semiotic landscape of higher education. Among other things, the corpus is unified in negotiating themes relating to sexuality, love, academic life and politics.


Billig, Michael. 1995. Banal Nationalism. London: SAGE.

Jaworski, Adam & Thurlow, Crispin. 2010. Introducing Semiotic Landscapes. In: Jaworski, Adam & Thurlow, Crispin (Eds.) Semiotic landscapes: language, image, space. London: Continuum International Publishing Group. (p. 1–40.)