Academic journal article Australian Journal of Language and Literacy

Children's Emotions and Multimodal Appraisal of Places: Walking with the Camera

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Language and Literacy

Children's Emotions and Multimodal Appraisal of Places: Walking with the Camera

Article excerpt

There is little attention in research to the everyday observable and implicit ways in which connections between place and emotions function in children's lives (Jones, 2002). Rather, there are romanticised constructions of childhood and places based on symbolic legacies about urban, rural, or suburban places that are suitable or unsuitable for children's life and growth (Jones, 2002). In this research, attention is given to how children feel about and appraise the world through their communicative and representational interactions with place through filmic media.

A number of theoretical paradigms have been applied to original research of children's multimodal text production, looking particularly at filmmaking. Critical sociology, for example, has proven generative in examining relations of power in digital filmmaking and the multiliteracies classroom, providing understandings of how access to digital media literacies is more accessible to children from the dominant, white middle class (e.g. Mills, 2006, 2007, 2008a, 2009, 2011a).

Other theorists of digital filmmaking with Ranker, J. (2008). children have considered children's use of local knowledge in filmmaking (Brass, 2008). Children's filmmaking has been interpreted as curatorship of self (Potter, 2010), while others have examined children's use of kineikonic or moving images in film (Burn, 2009; Burn & Parker, 2003; Mills, 2011c). Ranker (2008) has examined how digital video can be used with inquiry projects for learning, and how children used semiotic resources across modes in their meaning-making with film.

Theories of transmediation (Siegel, 1995; Suhor, 1992) have been applied to understanding how young children shift meanings across sign systems during stages of media production, such as from two-dimensional storyboard drawings to filming action and creating sound in movies (Mills, 2011b). New understandings of the dynamic spatial configurations that constitute filmmaking have been enabled by combining multimodal social semiotics with socio-spatial theory (Mills, 2010). Most recently, Ranker and Mills (2014) have theorised relations between spatiality, embodiment, and creativity in the filmmaking of children and youth in classrooms.

This study demonstrates the application of a useful approach to represent and interpret emotions and appraisals of place in children's films. Specifically, the language of evaluation or appraisal in English developed by Martin and White (2005) is applied to the analysis of children's multimodal texts--videos created at school, and produced while walking with the camera in the local area. This appraisal framework was chosen because it is currently one of the foremost systematic approaches to mapping feelings or attitude in applied linguistics. It attends to three axes along which the interlocutors' 'inter-subjective stance' can vary--affect, judgement, and appreciation (Martin & White, 2005). Traditionally in rhetorical studies and linguistics, these three regions are often referred to as 'emotion', 'ethics' and 'aesthetics' respectively.

The axis of the framework that deals with emotions in language is termed 'affect'--language resources to convey positive and negative feelings. These may be descriptions of emotional states, such as 'I feel scared', or behaviours that indicate emotional states (e.g. child jumping with delight) (Unsworth, 2006). Martin and White's (2005) approach extends beyond some existing accounts of affect because it addresses not only the funds of language through which interlocutors overtly encode what they present as their personal attitudes, but also how they indirectly or directly influence other's feelings.

Affect can be represented through a diverse range of grammatical structures in language, and can be expressed as 'affect as quality' (e.g. This is a sad place), 'affect as process' (e.g. Playing here excited me), or 'affect as comment' (e. …

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