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MODE: Multimodality, mixed methods and interdisciplinarity Print
University of Newcaslte
Professor Andrew Burn

Date and Time:
Monday, 14 May 2012, 11:00 - 16:00

Aim and focus

This seminar will draw on a series of large datasets generated by the recent AHRC-funded project Children's Playground Games and Songs in the age of New Media (

The project studied playground games in two primary school playgrounds (in London and Sheffield), using forms of visual ethnography involving digital video as the main data collection method, and depositing the archive at the British Library. In addition, the project digitised a substantial collection of audio from the 1970s and 80s (the Opie collection) in the National Sound Archive. It also made a website showcasing all this material, co-curated by primary school children involved in the project, who made animations to introduce the categories of play they had helped construct. Finally, the project developed a prototype application to record the movements of play as virtual figures in real time and display them back to the player, enabling them to see embodied action on-screen, and to play against the captured movements.

This seminar will consider, then, how these forms of digital data can be analysed using multimodal approaches.These will attend to the modes of communication and expression involved (games, performance, dance, song); to the embodied nature of these modes; to the material media involved and the meanings these contribute. They will also consider how the meanings made in the particular cultural moment incorporate or transform earlier meanings, whether those carried from game movements, words and music from decades earlier or those derived from contemporary media forms (film, computer games, television).

This multimodal approach will consider how to carry the
analysis across different kinds of data produced from different kinds of research and practice: ethnographic observation, interview, film-making and web design, and movement capture. At the same time, it will need to consider how the different disciplinary traditions and perspectives influence the analysis: cultural and media studies, ethnography, folklore studies, musico-ethnology, computer science and game design.

The day will include three sessions. Each will consist of a brief introduction outlining the context and the analytical approach. Participants will then be invited to study a selection of data and practise forms of multimodal analysis. Presenters will then summarise their own analysis and its outcomes. There will then be a fourth session to consider the challenges and opportunities of multimodal analysis across these kinds of data.

Participants in the seminar can look at sample material of video data and the children's animations (Session 2) on the British Library website Playtimes: a Century of Children's Playground Games -



To register for this course (cost £20), please visit our online registration page

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