This study provides a semiotic theorization of how emotion is represented in film to complement the cognitive approach, which focuses on how film elicits emotion from viewers. Drawing upon social semiotic theories and cognitive theories of emotion, we develop a multimodal framework in which filmic representation of emotion is seen as combinations of semiotic choices derived from cognitive components of emotion. The semiotic model is employed to investigate how emotive meaning is realized through verbal and nonverbal resources. At the discursive level of film, the choices available in the shot organization of eliciting condition and expression are examined. The paper demonstrates how the social semiotic approach, combined with cognitive theory of emotion structure, is able to provide a comprehensive theoretical account of how various film techniques represent emotion. It is also significant for the study of viewer emotion, which to a large degree stems from character emotion.
About the authors
Dezheng Feng (b. 1983) is a Research Assistant Professor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University 〈firstname.lastname@example.org〉. His research interests include social semiotics, multimodal discourse analysis, and cognitive linguistics. His publications include “Visual space and ideology: A critical cognitive analysis of spatial orientations in advertising” (2011); “Intertextual voices and engagement in TV advertisements” (with P. Wignell, 2011); “The visual representation of metaphor: A social semiotic perspective” (with K. O'Halloran, 2013); and “Multimodal engagement in television advertising discourse” (2013).
Kay L. O'Halloran (b. 1958) is an associate professor at Curtin University, Australia 〈email@example.com〉. Her research interests include multimodal analysis, social semiotics, and mathematics discourse. Her publications include “Inter-semiotic expansion of experiential meaning: Hierarchical scales and metaphor in mathematics discourse” (2008); “Multimodal analysis within an interactive software environment: Critical discourse perspectives” (with S. Tan, B. A. Smith & A. Podlasov, 2011); “The semantic hyperspace: Accumulating mathematical knowledge across semiotic resources and modes” (2011); and “Multimodal discourse analysis” (2011).
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