In Memoriam of Lars Elleström
IMS open, online lecture

John Bateman, The Mutual Complementarity of Lars Elleström’s Model of Intermediality and Current Approaches to Multimodality

This lecture is part of the IMS lecture series 'Meeting Media Minds – Critical Legacies of Lars Elleström' (MMM). The MMM is a series of open, online lectures intended to commemorate and discuss the work of Lars Elleström

In this sixth open lecture in our Meeting Media Minds series, John Bateman will give a presentation titled The Mutual Complementarity of Lars Elleström’s Model of Intermediality and Current Approaches to Multimodality.


Although developing independently and within quite distinct research traditions, the detailed model of intermediality articulated by Lars Elleström (Elleström 2010, 2014, 2021)  and recent accounts of multimodality – particularly that set out in Bateman/Wildfeuer/Hiippala (2017) – exhibit substantial parallels and complementarities. Many of the critiques Elleström brought against previous notions of ‘medium’ echo rather precisely critiques that Bateman/Wildfeuer/Hiippala were bringing against ‘semiotic mode’ – and for very similar reasons. Both positions were profoundly dissatisfied with treating their objects of concern (‘media’ / ‘semiotic modes’) as atomistic wholes lacking internal structure. Both approaches were equally dissatisfied with the informal comments and discussions commonly pursued concerning those objects. And both approaches saw a considerable need for methodological guidance for those wanting to do intermedial/multimodal analysis. The solution adopted, in both cases, was to go back to basics and attempt to reconstruct more usable constructs ‘bottom up’.  The resulting frameworks each offer detailed theoretical and methodological toolsets for engaging with complex situations of multimodal intermediality (or intermedial multimodality), but with each illuminating interestingly different facets of those situations. In this talk, therefore, I will attempt to read each account ‘through’, or from the vantage point of, the other. The primary goal of this metaphorical stereoscopy will be to bring out for discussion relative gaps and places of convergence that might aid us in constructing a more formal combination of the approaches potentially beneficial for future work in several areas and at several levels of abstraction, for both theoretical and practical engagement.


Bateman, J. A., Wildfeuer, J. and Hiippala, T. (2017), Multimodality – Foundations, Research and Analysis. A Problem-Oriented Introduction, de Gruyter Mouton, Berlin.

Elleström, L. (2010), The modalities of media: a model for understanding intermedial relations, in Lars Elleström, ed., 'Media Borders, Multimodality and Intermediality', Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 11--50.

Elleström, L. (2014), Media transformation: the transfer of media characteristics among media, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.

Elleström, L. (2021), The Modalities of Media II: An Expanded Model for Understanding Intermedial Relations, in Lars Elleström, ed., 'Beyond Media Borders, Volume 1: Intermedial Relations among Multimodal Media', Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 3--92.


John Bateman is full professor of Applied Linguistics in the English and Linguistics Departments of Bremen University, Germany, specializing in functional, computational and multimodal linguistics. His research ranges over functional linguistic approaches to multilingual and multimodal document design, semiotics, and theories of discourse. His current interests centre on the development of robust methodologies for multimodal analysis of diverse media, the application of functional linguistic and corpus methods to multimodal meaning-making, and the construction of ontologically-based computational dialogue systems for situated robot-human communication. Book publications include works on multimodality and genre (2008, Palgrave), film (2012, Routledge, with Karl-Heinrich Schmidt), a textbook on text and image (2014, Routledge), and a textbook on multimodality (2017 in English and 2020 in German, de Gruyter, with Janina Wildfeuer and Tuomo Hiippala).

How to attend

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