Start by first reading: Unit I orientation

In this unit, you will find an introduction to multimodal literacies. This page presents information on the topic and orients you in the unit.

1) A short definition:

Oral expression has perhaps always been the most immediate way for humans to communicate. Through diverse times and civilizations, images and writing have had different impacts depending on cultural frameworks. Only Western culture, during a short period (approximately 1850-2000 C.E.), managed to convince itself that writing was the absolute means of communication. This conviction was further cemented by a coined term - literacy - a term born when mass-scholarization was established in the middle of the 19th century. “Literacy” refers to praxis in its entirety and representations related to writing.

However, anthropologists, ethnologists and later, Classics scholars at the end of the 20th century, all orientated 'literacy' as a plural, 'literacies', while maintaining the strong presence of orality and images in their fields. Today, digital culture allows us to combine all modalities of cultural expression: sounds, texts, images, records, and music, etc. One is therefore encouraged to consider the plural literacies developing and growing in both Western and non-Western cultures.

2) An example of a multimodal digital object based on Vincent van Gogh, a combination of: painting, music, and film.

Before moving on, please watch this short digital multimodal example:

The video clip is a preview of the upcoming film Loving Vincent by Breakthru Films. Obtained from the official website: (standard YouTube License).

The above example provides a first example of the current, multimodal world in which we live. In the following lesson you will begin with an introduction to the definitions and historical background of multimodal literacies. The second lesson, based on literary examples, tasks you with comparing how you react to the differences between oral and written literacies.

Last modified: Wednesday, 15 March 2017, 10:26 AM