IMS seminar aurora

Guest: Li Ling Siew "A Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis of Political Visual Arts of Civil Disobedience Movement in Hong Kong"

Welcome to the weekly IMS seminar!

At this week's IMS seminar, PhD student Li Ling Siew will present her project titled: An eye for an eye? Or Lost in Transmediation? A Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis of Political Visual Arts of Civil Disobedience Movement in Hong Kong.


Civil disobedience movement or social movement is often perceived as a tool to bring about political and social change. Using the Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protest as a case study, I explore the discursive constructions of social movement in media discourse and how they are ideologically produced through semiotic resources in multimodal modes. This work-in-progress includes critical reading on multimodal corpora collected from news articles by various media agencies, and user responses (such as writings, anecdotes and visual artworks) on social media platforms curated by ordinary citizens showing solidarity for different political affiliations. The interpretations of the event as reflected in the corpora through various modal assemblages offer contrary realities to the “official” public announcements and condemnations by the Hong Kong government agencies. In particular, the creation and sharing of political visual arts such as posters, memes, cartoons, and satires capture the complex multimodal representations of contestations, identities and values in relation to the social movement, to which some are used as a repetitive prompt or an ideological tool to create more visual expressions for political propaganda. Political visual arts often enable audiences to consider or reflect on perspectives on the reality surrounding the causes they are protesting, such as the larger socio-political context that a real photograph cannot. I am more intrigued to investigate as to what could possibly go “wrong” during the continual process of mediation when the primary text (such as a video or photograph captured by reporters, protesters, or civilians at the site of the protest) which serves as a prompt for propaganda is being transferred from one mode to another. Using a case study that involves a young woman who suffered a severe eye injury during one of the demonstrations in Hong Kong, I intend to examine the discursive construction of multimodal semiotic modes which are ideologically loaded in constructing visual representations of the protest. The conflicting realities offered by various media sources prompt me to reflect on the values, truthfulness and truth claims in the representation of facts and actual events of the Hong Kong protest in dominant media discourse. How is the primary text being changed into a series of aesthetic art forms for political propaganda? What aspects and messages of the primary are being recontextualized, reinterpreted, or perhaps, manipulated to achieve political intention? What could be lost, or misinterpreted during the transmediation process onto a different mode?

Siew Li Ling is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics, University of Malaya, Malaysia.

You are welcome to join the seminar on zoom by emailing us at


Photo: 'Aurora - Connecting Senses’, Cristina Pop-Tiron & Signe Kjær Jensen

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