Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Multimodality, Semiotics, Multimodal Communication, Film, Graphic Narrative, Commercials

Major Advisor

Dr. Eduardo Urios-Aparisi

Associate Advisor

Dr. Jacqueline Loss

Associate Advisor

Dr. Roger Celestin

Field of Study

Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


Marshall McLuhan’s assertion that the “medium is the message,” coupled with his understanding of media as holding transformative power, yields an understanding of the increasing significance of multimodal communication and new technologies. Modes of representation and communication have shifted from the audio or visual experience to inherently multimodal. Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen assert that “language and multimedia [are] moving towards multimodal communication.” My dissertation addresses the question of how meaning is created within each medium and ways in which each mode contributes to the overall meaning-making potential. While the visual, verbal, and kinesthetic modes present information differently, they all work together to formulate a “multimodal ensemble”; I examine multimodal ensembles across the media of film, graphic narratives, and commercials. In my conclusions, I will apply multimodal communication to pedagogical practices in order to adapt to the changes in and evolution of literacies. My research draws from multiple disciplines including literary theory, film studies, pedagogy, multimodal discourse analysis, communications and semiotics, proving that the message/meaning is driven by the "complexity of interaction, representation, and communication” (Jewitt 1). Finally, I conclude that multimodal literacy needs to be connected to the multimodal aesthetic experience across cultural, social, and historical landscapes.