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Carmen Gregori-Signes. 2010. Magnifying the ordinary: a multimodal perspective on the analysis of TV series. Talk Presented at the XXVIII International AESLA Conference. IULMA, Universitat de València Dpt. Filologia Inglesa y Alemana

@ Carmen Gregori Signes

Humour……….. Tension between • Spy life

• Life as a member of the Nerd Herd at the



Spy life

Equally exciting?

Life at

PURPOSE intention is “to reveal to what extent readers rely on inferential resources when attempting to transform the verbal-visual information …… into cognitively relevant interpretations” Yus’ (2008:223)


soundtrack/ audio

How it may be possible for the audience to reach an identification between life at the Buy More (an electronics store) and Spy life, thus magnifying the workplace.

Framework for the analysis Multimodal approach (Kress and van Leeuwen 2001) to analyse the internal elements in the series .

Drawing upon the principles of: Genre analysis Discourse analysis Pragmatics/ relevance theory Media studies Television text in its dual interpretation: internally or externally (social impact)

Framework for the analysis Following Yus’s (2008) proposal for the analysis of graphic novels and Altman’s (1989) concept of genre and intergeneric influences (syntactic and semantic elements in film genres) I propose a framework for multimodal analysis that may help us understand how the introduction of generic conventions from other genres may used both: a) to build central coherence in the series; b) to build humour

Framework for the analysis Language Module + Perceptual Module (Fodor 1983) + Audio/sound Module ________________________________

a) syntactic (Altman 1989) generic conventions from other genres: visual and verbal-non-verbal language/ soundtrack. E.g. generic structure, plot, transition themes, vocabulary, tone of voice, etc. b) symbolic /semantic (non/-verbal/visual/ soundtrack ) generic conventions from other genres ( internal vs. real world) (e.g. in Westerns: horses, guns, sheriff etc.) d) implicatures and explicatures: visual/non/-verbal/ soundtrack; e) relevance driven-interpretations (i.e. inferential task to interpret the meaning of whole episode/ series) (cf. Fodor 1983, Altman 1989, Yus 2008)

Focusing on the relationship between Humour & Central coherence

Generic mixture

Context /Parallel stories Two parallel stories: conflict emerges in both contexts. Story 2

Story 1 Spy life /Government/ world security

E1 E2 E3 E4

E5 E6 E7 E8 E9 E 10 E 11 E 12 E 13 E 14 E 15 E 16 E 17 E 18 E 19 E 20 E 21 E 22

Chuck vs. the First Date Chuck vs. the Seduction Chuck vs. the Break-Up Chuck vs. the Cougars Chuck vs. Tom Sawyer Chuck vs. the Ex Chuck vs. the Fat Lady Chuck vs. the Gravitron Chuck vs. the Sensei Chuck vs. the DeLorean Chuck vs. Santa Claus Chuck vs. the Third Dimension Chuck vs. the Suburbs Chuck vs. the Best Friend Chuck vs. the Beefcake Chuck vs. the Lethal Weapon Chuck vs. the Predator Chuck vs. the Broken Heart Chuck vs. the Dream Job Chuck vs. the First Kill Chuck vs. the Colonel Chuck vs. the Ring

Genre mixture: function The inclusion of multimodal generic conventions (implicit or explicit) from other genres in both stories leads to relevance driven interpretations whose function is bring together both parallel stories; and thus give coherence to the whole episode/series. They also help the audience process the whole story according to certain schemata and realise that certain genres are being parodied for the sake of establishing a relationship between the two parallel stories:

The incongruity of the situation however (especially as exaggerated as they make it look like at the Buy More) makes it possible to identify the workplace with spy life, thus humorously magnifying it for the purpose of making the audience laugh [e.g. video extract the somersault,+ spy music]

Other genres reproduced in the context of the Buy More Video game exhibition (vocabulary, limit situations when s.o. is about to win the game and thus beat the software) Women in Advertising (reproducing Sarah’s entrance in the Buy More in slow motion, as if announcing women’s products (cf. del Saz and Pennock 2009) Bachelor Party (Chuck’s brother in law) Concert/s ( Humour in music/ Zappa Is there "Thunderdome", a cage match tournament (in the storage room of the shop) Parody of spy series (metadiscourse) Robbery with hostages A TV game show “The Wheel of Misfortune” to choose the employee of the month

Chuck women’s advertising

Episode 203: Chuck vs. the break-up Spy Life Facing Fulcrum Chuck has to take decisions on his own

Buy More Facing Mighty Sports (bullies) Morgan also faces the bullies on his own

Genre conventions: Classic Western a) Soundtrack: High Noon/ Solo ante el Peligro Spy music in the Buy More when trying to get rid of the bullies a) The figure of the lone ranger (Chuck & Morgan) b) Attitudes and gestures of the characters c) Vocabulary and expressions characteristic of classic westerns dialogue

Episode 205. Chuck vs. Tom Sayer Genre conventions: military

Spy Life • Video game humanity depends on it

The Buy More • Past references: Jeffrey Barnes, the missile Command world champion (video game).

Voice quality: tone and pitch of the voice: Stu Brewster (the boss) imitating the military exhortation tone of voice, loud, strong; while Jeffrey Milbarge is more ironical, subtle and manipulates his voice quality in order to make it sound as such (cf. Pennock and del Saz 2009)

Genre “Military inspection�

Vocabulary: to tighten your slack-asses up. to meet all of you in the flesh; looking forward to spending more time here in the Buy More trenches, getting to know the rank and the file. Non-verbal language: position of the arms of some of them, silence, facial expression showing defiance in some of them

Military inspection

Implicatures vs. explicatures[anchorage] Example of multimodal analysis of graphic novels:

Journalist: I’ts not fair. Nothing ever happens in this town

Fire in a building in the The journalist is a distance, people disaster jumping from the windows

Art critic commenting upon a picture in a gallery: “This is more like it!�

The second picture is The art critic is a almost the same as the disaster first one (the one he disliked)

Yus (2008: 242)

Interview with Milbarge

Implicature and explicature: The herd nerd are all a bunch of loosers Milbarge: We'll just start out simple. Why do you belong at the Buy More? Jeff: I satisfy a quota. My dad's part Indian. The cool kind of Indian though, not like Lester. Morgan: Why do I belong at the Buy More? You know, I'm going to have to think about that. I'm going to go grab a soda. And... You want one? 'Cause it's my treat.I'll gr- I'll grab you one. And I'll be back in a jiff. Milbarge: (writes down on the report ) “Untrainable “ Ana: I speak more than one language, binary code. Zero, zero, zero, one,e... zero. Milbarge: (writes down on the report) “Prostitute?”

Symbolic information (stereotypes) The choice of the cast

Relevance driven interpretations Yus (2008: 242): “ [graphic novels] In specific contexts, the information “literally” coded in the utterances is insufficient to account for their intended interpretations and hence the addressee’s inference is needed in order to turn the schematic input into relevant interpretations […] Similarly, readers of comics have to infer the intended interpretation of both the narrative text (captions) and the characters’ dialogues in order to grasp the story correctly. “

The same would apply in the case of the interpretation of all the elements included in a TV series.

Relevance-driven interpretations One step forward into the interpretation of each episode and of the whole series

Episode 203 The two stories come together by a comment by Morgan Morgan : Man, you ever have someone show up in your life and just make you feel so damn small? This comment leads the audience to think that maybe spy life is not that different from normal ordinary life at the workplace.

Conclusions: the role of inference and relevance driven interpretations in the perception of the Buy More

Yus (2008:223) rightly points out that “perception is not as automatic as it seems to be, but is always mediated by the person’s background knowledge, expectations and assumptions about the world (actual or possible) and that “whatever the visual input, inferential hypotheses have to be made in order to match [….] information and their referents.” As such, the final interpretation or vision of the Buy More as an extraordinary place that may be perceived by the audience as a competitor of spy life depends on the inference that each spectator makes of the discourse in Chuck which includes a mixture of generic conventions from different genres

Conclusion??? What so magnificent about ?

Thanks for your time

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