Linnaeus University Centre for Intermedial and Multimodal Studies

Linnaeus University Centre for Intermedial and Multimodal Studies is an interdisciplinary environment that covers the fields of, primarily, comparative literature, media and communication science, linguistics, music science, film studies, and art science.

Our Research

It is still unusual to take a broad perspective on intermediality and multimodality in order to detect similarities and differences between different types of media. However, that kind of broad perspective enables research to develop interdisciplinary conceptual models, which make the analysis of multimodal media productions and intermedial relations easier.

Relations and interactions between media types

Lady with headphones

Never before in history have new technological media been created and developed at such a fast pace, and perhaps never before have the technical, social, linguistic, and aesthetic borders between vicinity and distance, original and copy, man and machine, and private and public been so indistinct and complex. Today's world of media and communication is utterly complex and constantly involves the crossing of borders. Various types of information is transferred between old and new technological media, between sensory channels, and between sign systems. In the global society of today, the issue of intermediality and multimodality is certainly topical.

However, mediality does not deal only with mass media or modern technology. The concept of medium is to be understood as a channel for the transmission of meaning in all sorts of communicative contexts, also in, for instance, a conversation between two different persons. Intermediality is the study of interrelations between different types of media, and multimodality is the study of
how individual media combine various basic media properties, like the visual and the auditive. It is important to try to understand the fundamental material and human conditions for the ability to mediate, recount, and relocate information and content between different media types.

There are no pure media but instead all media are interrelated in one way or another. Photographs, films, written text, dance, video games, newspapers, and etchings are perceived with the help of our vision. Music, speeches, poetry readings, and television shows are perceived with the help of our hearing. The perception of all media takes place in a temporal perspective and from a cognitive point of view spatial structures are important, but some media and forms of art are primarily temporal while others are primarily spatial: written texts, oil paintings and posters are frozen in time, while speeches, feature films, and pieces of music only can be realised in a temporal flow. A cartoon has two dimensions in space while a sculpture is three-dimensional. All this affects what kind of meaning is possible to communicate.

Research group leader professor Lars Elleström means that research dedicated to the medialized society of today often is not based on an understanding of communication and media in a broader sense. New technological innovations and their impact on users are studied without any ties to history or theoretical frameworks that go beyond an understanding of the latest technology. Exaggerated and to some extent hollow claims of digital revolutions turn a blind eye to historical and theoretical links – which are essential in order to accomplish
a deeper understanding for also contemporary phenomena.

– In order to achieve a deeper understanding for relations and interactions between different media, research will have to be based on broad historical contexts as well as comprehensive theoretical frameworks and a number of empirical fields, Lars Elleström explains. An ambition the group has is to deepen the understanding of the basic nature of all media through a cross-pollination of intermedial and multimodal theories and research methods.

Narration, meaning, learning, and interaction

Child with book

Intermedial and multimodal studies can be roughly divided into two principal perspectives: as a synchronic mix of different types of media or as a diachronic transformation of content or form from one medium to another. The synchronic research perspective comprises issues handled in terms of combination and integration of units like text and images.
The diachronic perspective on media is about trying to understand the limitations and possibilities found in the transfer of content and form between different media.

The research group has identified four overlapping fields that are being investigated and analysed: narration, meaning, learning, and interaction.

The centre is of the opinion that it is crucial to improve the current theoretical understanding of various types of stories created outside the framework for literary narrative fiction. It is essential to take a closer look at fundamental similarities and differences between different media in order to understand the various forms of narration, otherwise the very foundation for our ability to tell stories and interpret in terms of narration will remain unclear.

The concept of meaning is inevitably central in all studies of communication and media; it is, however, important to stress that different types of media create meaning in different ways. This has to do with both material differences between various media and with the fact that different types of media make use of different types of signs.

Media make up the foundation for all learning. Methods for development and evaluation of learning must be based on a conceptual framework that acknowledges both the material properties of media products and the cognitive mechanisms involved in the transfer of content between different types of media.

The goal of this field of research is to gain a deeper understanding of the interaction between people, between different types of media, and between people and different types of media. This is to be realised through a broad grasp on different types of mental, material, and technological interaction.

Our Researchers

Research Projects


A list of publications can be found in our database DIVA. You are able to refine the search results in accordance with publication type, person, year and more.


National and International Collaborations

Within Linnaeus University


Within Europe




Linnaeus University Centre for Intermedial and Multimodal Studies has reoccuring seminars every term. You can find more information regarding where and when in our event calendar at the staff pages.