Multimodality Talks Series: Discourse Semantics of Time and Children’s Transmedia Narratives

Day:  18th June 2021

Time: 12.00-13.30 (GMT)

Place: online

Speaker: Dr Chiao-I Tseng, University of Bremen, Germany and Dr. Emilia Djonov, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

Watch the recording of the talk here


In this talk, we present an analytical approach to children’s interpretations of time in filmic and interactive narratives. This is part of our ongoing collaborative research on transmedia narratives for and by children (Djonov & Tseng, 2021; Djonov, Tseng, & Lim, forthcoming). We will first discuss previous research on children’s understanding of time and particularly review the recent empirical studies on children’s distinction of various types of temporal devices in story genres (e.g. parallel time, changes of time, chronological ordering). This highlights the significance of children’s understanding of time in literacy and history education. 

Extending previous research on verbal texts and synthesising the key temporal mechanisms discussed across empirical studies, we propose a discourse semantic method for analysing how children’s interpretation of time is guided by the co-deployment of various modes in film and interactive media. The method is based on three analytical categories for the interpretation of time — sequencing, duration and frequency. These capture a range of narrative temporal devices, which allows us to move beyond the analysis of individual devices pursued in most previous studies, and to develop a more robust basis for investigating the interaction and combined effects of different time devices in narrative as well as for comparing how they are realised transmedially.

We will conclude the talk by briefly suggesting how the discourse semantic dimensions of time and space (Tseng, 2017) can both be considered in order to untangle the ways in which they interact in narratives for and by children.


Dionov, E., Tseng, C. and Lim, F. (forthcoming). Children’s experiences with a transmedia narrative: Insights for promoting critical multimodal literacy in the digital age. Accepted for publication in Discourse, Context and Media.

Djonov, E. and Tseng, C. (2021). Harnessing the potential of transmedia narratives for critical multimodal literacy.Critical Discourse Studies 18, 349–367. 

Tseng, C. (2017) Analysing narrativised space in moving images: A multimodal discourse approach to narrative complexity and transmedial comparison. Multimodal Communication 6, 61–82.


Dr. Chiao-I Tseng is based in the Faculty of Linguistics and Literary Sciences, University of Bremen. She has been developing theoretical methods for multimodal and transmedia discourse analysis, such as frameworks for analysing cohesion, event types, narrative space in narratives across audio-visual and graphic media. Her publications include a monograph Cohesion in Film (2013, Palgrave MacMillan) and several international peer reviewed papers on empirical issues such as narrative comprehension process, genre, stylistics, narrative complexities, persuasion and screen violence.

Dr. Emilia Djonov is Senior Lecturer in language and literacy education at Macquarie University, Australia. Her research in social semiotics, semiotic technology, critical and multimodal discourse analysis, and multiliteracies has been published in journals such as Visual Communication, Social Semiotics, Text & Talk and Critical Discourse Studies. 

The Multimodality Talks Series is organised by the University of Leeds Multimodality@Leeds, The UCL Visual and Multimodal Research Forum, and Insulander/Svärdemo Åberg at the Department of Education, Stockholm University. It is conceived of working as a tandem with the Bremen-Groningen Online Workshops on Multimodality to make the best of the online format to offer multiple chances for sharing research and stimulating discussions on multimodality worldwide. See the full Multimodality Talk Series programme here:

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