Language in Society


GUNTHER KRESS & THEO VAN LEEUWEN, Multimodal discourse: The modes and media of contemporary communication. London: Arnold, 2001. Pp. vii, 142. Hb $72.00, Pb $24.95.

Silke  Brandt  a1
a1 American Studies, University of Leipzig, and Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig 04103, Germany,

Article author query
brandt s   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 

Multimodal Discourse offers a theoretical framework for the study of communication in the modern world of multimedia. The book helps students of linguistics, cultural studies, and communication as well as journalists, photographers, designers, and others who work practically in the field of communication and design, to understand and differentiate the distinct levels of mass communication and their interaction. The authors also give an overview of the development of communication and discourse and show how this development is influenced by overall changes in society and social life. All the definitions of theoretical concepts and notions are further explained and illustrated by a great variety of examples. Linguists have shown that discourse is not only used and expressed in and/or by language; Kress & van Leeuwen also apply the term to music, architecture, and many other domains of culture. The notion of modes, however, is explained only in a very abstract way as “semiotic resources which allow the simultaneous realization of discourses and types of (inter)action” (p. 21). Media, on the other hand, are described as the material resources being used for the production. Examples of modes mentioned by the authors are music, language, and images. The medium is supposed to be the material, such as a book (6).

(Received March 1 2003)