Carl A. Grant Lecture: Multi-modal Voicing & Scale in Documentary Media

April 28, 2016, 12:00 - 1:00 pm

Educational Sciences Room 259, 1025 West Johnson Street

Eva Lam

Associate Professor, Learning Sciences, Asian American Studies, Northwestern University

Eva Lam

Drawing from a study of video documentary making in a high school with students from immigrant families and interviews with media practitioners, I discuss how the representational or discursive practices of “scaling” in social-issue documentaries afford the potential for re-constructing our understanding of the relationship between different socially stratified spaces. Our study of social documentary explores how particular spatiotemporal scopes of experiences and practices are represented and made visible through the voices of particular characters and how the voices of different characters and institutional actors are juxtaposed or linked to each other to constitute particular relations between them. We are interested in how the boundaries among different socially stratified spaces and the language practices associated with these spaces are strategically exposed and rejigged or reordered in documentary storytelling. Our study considers how media production can offer opportunity for students to document and mobilize their own and their communities’ language and semiotic repertoires, and analyze and orchestrate them in relation to other community and institutional voices to extend important conversations in society.