Foreword to Visual Imagery, Metadata, and Multimodal Literacies Across the Curriculum

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Book Chapter

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As one of those educated to consider the primacy of the word – written and spoken – as the vehicle for creating and transferring knowledge, I am often surprised by the evidence around me that we live in a world inwhich technological devices of variousshapes and sizes have blunted the reliance on the layerings of words to define and engage in favor of various shortcuts to knowledge. Complexity of expression in the textures of language has given way, because of those devices and their applications, to abbreviations, neologisms, emojis, deliberate misspellings, instagrams, tweets, and other avenues of expression that focus both the sender and the recipient on a screen rather than on a page, on immediacy of connection and information (even about emotions, now presented through various forms of round faces) rather than on the subtleties and nuances of words. Of course, those new forms are a language as well, and they are helping to reshape the dimensions of how those of us in traditional academic roles might consider language as object, as visual form, and not necessarily, as I learned it, a system of sounds and signs.