This study focuses on students’ multimodal designing in response to literature by studying how a transmediation process of digital videomaking in response to a poetic text influences the interpretive work among a group of students in lower secondary education. The research interest reflects a desire to strengthen the research-based platform for multimodal designing in relation to literature education, and thus this study aims to contribute to the larger conversation about the rationale for teaching literature.
Grounded in a performative approach to literary interpretation, referring to interpretation as something one does and actively negotiates, the research design builds on an analytical framework based in social semiotic theory of multimodality. Analytically, the focus is on how students make use of semiotic resources in representing their interpretation of the poetic text during a multimodal designing process, examining both the process of the students’ collective work and the digital video that they produce. Two research questions are posed: What characterises the students’ transmediation process regarding their use of semiotic resources as a means to negotiate their interpretation of the poem? And, how do the students, in their digital video, use semiotic resources to represent their interpretation of the poem? The data consists of video observations of a collective process of digital videomaking by four students and the digital video made by them.
The findings illustrate how the process of multimodal designing in response to literature continuously requests, encourages, and urges negotiation, indicating that the transmediation process from poem to digital video is a highly complex one with much potential for negotiating the literary text. The analysis reveals how the negotiations of the poetic text are connected to the negotiations of semiotic resources, suggesting that the semiotic resources available and in use can be a key factor in students’ interpretive work on literary texts. The students’ process of transmediating poetry to digital video was not always a straightforward walk facilitated by a multiplicity of available semiotic resources; the process both enabled and challenged the students in their interpretive work. However, the analyses demonstrate that the challenges and possibilities are what offer and accommodate spaces for negotiations. With reference to the findings of this study, negotiating interpretation encompasses ways of combining, juxtaposing, and emphasising different interpretations.
Based on these understandings, this study argues for an approach to literature education that creates spaces for negotiating literary interpretations. This approach emphasises the ability to negotiate different stances, perspectives, positions, and views in order to handle ambivalent and ambiguous situations and perspectives. In such spaces, literary reading activities would not strive to arrive at a consensus. Instead, students would be encouraged to reflect on differences, contrasting understandings, and fostering awareness of multiple views. With support in the findings of this study, such spaces can be offered in the literature classroom.