Academic journal article Australian Journal of Language and Literacy

Gesture as Transduction of Characterisation in Children's Literature Animation Adaptation

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Language and Literacy

Gesture as Transduction of Characterisation in Children's Literature Animation Adaptation

Article excerpt

Literature has the central role in all first language curricula, including the Australian curriculum: English (ACE) (ACARA, 2014), not only in developing students' understanding and use of language and literacy but also in expanding their scope of experience and imagination, and enriching their personal, cultural, social, aesthetic, and moral values. Literary work in the contemporary world has flourished in multimodal forms such as picture books, graphic novels and films and is no longer restricted to printed texts. The ACE takes this progressive view about literature education as it incorporates the contemporary multimodal aspects of literature in its overview of the Literature strand:

Students interpret, appreciate, evaluate and create literary texts such as short stories, novels, poetry, plays, film and multimodal texts in spoken and digital/online forms' (ACARA, 2014, p. 8).

Specifically, it is consistently stated throughout the years of schooling in the content descriptions that children are expected to learn to both comprehend and compose digital multimodal literary texts as identified in the sub-strands of Responding to Literature, Examining Literature and Creating Literature. For instance, to comprehend multimodal texts, children are expected to:

Discuss characters from books and films and whether these are life-like or imaginary (for example talking animals) [ACELT1582] (ACARA, 2014, p. 36).

To create multimodal literary texts, children are expected to:

Use texts with computer-based graphics, animation and 2D qualities, consider how and why particular traits for a character have been chosen. [ACELT1612] (ACARA, 2014, p. 76).

Multimodal literature in the ACE extends beyond printed multimodal literary work such as picture books and graphic novels to digital multimodal literature as film. In the context of the ACE Literature strand, films refer to fictional or narrative films in the forms of live action and animation, many of which are adapted from a written literary work. Reading a written piece of literary work and watching its film adaptation are different interpretive experiences. Reading a story involves the reader's first-hand experience of original interpretation of the work by engaging directly with the written language the writer produces through the reader's own lens of life experience influenced by the social and cultural contexts that the reader is living in. Watching a literature film adaptation involves the viewer's double interpretation of the story: first, through the interpretation of the film makers' interpretation of the original literary work which is manifested in all aspects of film making including the recreation of the story through the film script, the realisation of the characters' interiority through the acting of the actors and animators, and the deployment of cinematographic techniques; and second, through the viewer's own lens of life experience similar to reading. In order to do so, instead of engaging with language only, the viewer has to use multiple senses to simultaneously interpret multiple sources of meaning making such as language, actions, body language, image, cinematographic techniques and sounds. Hence, Responding to and Examining Literature of the written mode is different from doing so in a digital multimodal medium as each medium has its distinctive features and literary techniques. If film is outlined in the ACE as a form of literary text, it should be studied with regard to its digital multimodal nature constituted from all resources for meaning making. Specifically, if teachers and students are to teach and learn how to respond to and examine literature in the form of film (ACARA, 2014) in terms of a key literary technique-characterisation, they need to be aware of all meaning making resources contributing to this process in the multimodal text rather than verbal language only. Studying verbiage in films only as indicated in elaborations such as ACELT1642: Looking at a range of short poems, a short story, or extracts from a novel or film and discuss examples of how language devices layer meaning and influence the responses of listeners, viewers and readers (ACARA, 2014, p. …

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