Scholarly article on topic 'Multimodality and Fantasy and Stories in University Teacher Training1'

Multimodality and Fantasy and Stories in University Teacher Training1 Academic research paper on "Languages and literature"

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Abstract of research paper on Languages and literature, author of scientific article — Adolf Piquer Vidal

Abstract One of the main consequences of the receipt of literature has been the generation of emotions. We think the history of literature and the theory applied to analysing the phenomenon (ontogeny of fantasy and social-educational function); university teaching (fantasy stories in contemporary society), and, finally, transposition to teaching in the classroom with various semiotic codes (oral, writing, images...). What has been called multimodality provokes a variety of discourses that rain down on us with a combination of codes that makes semiotics more complex. The semiotic grammar acquired by our students derives from the new ways of knowing and thinking.

Academic research paper on topic "Multimodality and Fantasy and Stories in University Teacher Training1"

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Social and Behavioral Sciences

ELSEVIER Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 178 (2015) 190 - 195

15th International Conference of the Spanish Association of language and Literature Education, 15th International Conference SEDLL, 19-21 November 2014, Valencia, Spain

Multimodality and fantasy and stories in university teacher

One of the main consequences of the receipt of literature has been the generation of emotions. We think the history of literature and the theory applied to analysing the phenomenon (ontogeny of fantasy and social-educational function); university teaching (fantasy stories in contemporary society), and, finally, transposition to teaching in the classroom with various semiotic codes (oral, writing, images...). What has been called multimodality provokes a variety of discourses that rain down on us with a combination of codes that makes semiotics more complex. The semiotic grammar acquired by our students derives from the new ways of knowing and thinking.

© 2015TheAuthors.PublishedbyElsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-reviewunderresponsibilityoftheUniversidadPolitecnica de Valencia,DepartamentodeLinguisticaAplicada. Keywords: Comparative Literature, fantasy, teacher training, multimodality,

1. Ontogeny of fantasy narration

"Se avessimo anche una Fantastica, come una Logica, sarebbe scoperta l'arte di inventare". With this quotation from Novalis, Rodari (1973: 4) begins his Grammatica della fantasia. It does not escape us that one of the main consequences of the receipt of literature has, over the centuries, been the generation of emotions. We have chosen the fantasy story for the challenge posed by its complexity when it comes to using it as a reference in the educational itinerary through university. As Joaquin Garcia Carrasco (2011: 101) says: "[...] the educational itinerary is an experience plagued by emotional puddles: desire or boredom in studying; curiosity and pleasure in the task; fatigue and professional stress; motivation or lack of interest, joy, anger or surprise...".

We therefore face a triple dimension of the emotional management of knowledge: the history of literature and the theory applied to analysing the phenomenon; university teaching, and, finally, transposition to teaching in the classroom. Along these lines, we have come up with an idea to link these three facets with a thread such as the emotions aroused by reading a fantasy story. In this, neuroculture

1This study is a product of the research projects "El discurso divulgativo en catalán y en español: géneros, estilos y estrategias argumentativas en la gestión social de los conocimientos" (Divulgative discourse in Catalan and Spanish: genres, styles and argumentation strategies) financed by the Bancaixa Foundation pi 1b2011-53 and the Spanish Ministry of Science and Scientific Innovation project (FFI2013-40934-R) "Retórica constructivista: discursos de la identidad" (Constructivist rhetoric: discourses of identity).

* Adolf Piquer Vidal .: 34 964 72 97 56 mail address:

1877-0428 © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Departamento de Lingüística Aplicada. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.03.179

Adolf Piquer Vida!

Univesitat Jaume I. Departament de Filología I Cultures Europees, Castelló, Spain


plays a leading role. We can think of this as a mental focus whose ultimate aim is the enjoyment caused by reading. However, finding a way to sketch out a strategy for revealing the pleasure of reading is a task which, today, looks like a difficult personal and collective challenge.

We should focus on the phenomenon of literary ontogeny involved in the use of elements that appear unreal in the construction of stories. From the genesis of narration, in the construction of myths, we can see that this contribution has existed. The classical contrast between logos and mythos shows that. And, these constructed fantasies - assumed, we must not forget, by primitive cultures to be true - were eventually integrated into folk tales (Falk, 1994; Meletinski, 1993; Propp, 1974). The development of mythemes into popular literature was rooted in beliefs assumed by societies and by the view that magic was not necessarily non-existent just because it was something unknown, even though this came with religious assumptions. University students cannot fail to maintain a repertoire of popular literature that has come to them from various sources of acquired knowledge: folk tales in childhood, reading, films...

We must also focus on the social function performed by fantasy stories over a long period of history. Their use in the formation of individual behaviour within the group makes us think of a relationship of domination through exemplification - and also an educational function in its purest sense - as Bruno Bettelheim wrote (1976).

The function of the story as apologia running from antiquity through the Middle Ages and including La Fontaine and the Spanish fabulists of the 18th century, has often been linked to the concept of paideia, whether concerned with the ease with which the exempla reached the people as a support for religious ideology or the political projection achieved by authors like the Frenchman we have just mentioned. The time would come when this use of fantasy apologia in education would move in a rationalist direction with Voltaire ("Le dialogue du chapon et de la poularde", 1763, for example). The philosophical argument of Voltaire's stories makes an impression on those who want to see in them a use of fantasy as a mechanism for inducing critical thought.

If we must once again relate literature to creative enjoyment and the pleasure of reading - to emotions - it has to be with the concept of fantasy from a new perspective: that of the tacit agreement between author and reader according to which we understand that the writer concealed behind the story is a kind of god with full powers to create an autonomous world, with its own rules, at any given time. The author's freedom to create fantasy and the recognition of this game by the reader are at the centre of attention of what has become known as Romantic irony. On this, Claire Colebrook (2004, 69) tells us: "All art is 'Romantic' precisely because it is Romantic irony that reaches what it was along (...)"

The definition of fantasy story made by David Roas is along these lines. Rooted in Schlegel's concept of Romantic irony (Ballart, 1994; Behler, 1993), Roas (2000) sees in the 19th-century story the capacity to produce particular emotions - new ones for the time - in the readers of such tales.

It was left to Luigi Pirandello to come along to turn the Romantic screw still further, and to add a space for dreams and laughter in his Beffe de la morte e de la vita (1902). In this sense, the writer from Agrigento became one of the fathers of a new concept of fantasy which would lead us to a surrealistic view of the story. With him, Massimo Bontempelli and his European magical realism would come to construct what some have called neofantasy (Alazraki, 2001). There, in neofantasy, can be found the source for the stories of Carpentier and Borges: authors who would make the genre one of the leading literary forms of the 20th century.

2. The fantasy story in modern society

As Brander Matthews (1993) says, in modern times, originality and ingenuity have become the most important aesthetic trends. And, years later, we must add that the multimodality predominant in society: film, advertising, the Internet has made the world of communication more complex while constructing a new way of understanding and making use of the fantasy story.

What has been called multimodality (Kress/van Leeuwen, 2001) provokes a variety of discourses with a combination of codes that makes semiotics more complex. The semiotic grammar acquired by our students derives from the new ways of knowing and thinking. From the various sub-areas of the ecosocial system, the fantasy story has come to be integrated into an element of the literary and para-literary hypertext surrounding us at every step. Ultimately, as we analyse that beautiful Chanel advertisement filmed by Luc Besson (figure 1), we suggest a collective imagination constructed on these two characters and, at the same time, we surprise the horizons of our expectation in as far as the girl reaffirms her character as a woman in the face of the wolf (man). Female self-confidence has managed to subvert the values for which the fantasy had traditionally been used (Escribano, 2011).

Fig. 1. Chanel advertisement filmed by Luc Besson.

The codes used lead us to a very clear intertextual relationship. They are image and sound, providing clear reminiscences through the iconic combination of the young woman's dress (which connects Neil Jordan's The Company of Wolves, based on stories by Angela Carter) and the presence of the animal.

Faced with this element, our students are capable of identifying the components of the discourse and even inferring the meaning relating the perfume and the young woman. The wolf has obeyed her instructions, letting out a howl that sounds like a lament.

With this, we must recognise that the ontogeny of the best-known folk tales is clearly shown in almost all university students. The re-elaboration of the story places a new narrative product in front of us that has been moved away from the original frame of reference and recontextualised.

Film is another of the ways literature penetrates the modern world. Dracula, directed by Francis Ford Coppola (1992) contributed to recovering a name almost unknown to Spanish trainee teachers: Bram Stoker. Having therefore accepted cinema and advertising as routes for penetration towards literature, it should not be difficult to look for a point where we can go to present fantasy in literature as an artistic concept that involves a great deal of artifice.

3. Multimodality in literary teaching

Explaining literature in teacher training has become a challenge of seduction. Hooking future teachers and interesting them in reading will not inexorably burden them with a task they feel they must take on outside academic hours. Anyone who speaks of fairy tales is talking about the Disney factory, but also about horror stories and advertising making use of the stereotypes and myths of stories to construct new discourses for persuasive purposes, with a thread such as the reading intertext (Ambros, 2011).

The cognitive process of the common technological elements in the environment of our young people can be offered as a starting point to progress towards film or advertising sources, extracting the stereotypes and making use of them again for the teaching transposition to infant and primary school classrooms (Egan, 1995).

In fact, the concept of multimodality was developed with the intention of coming to understand the linguistic and para-linguistic aspects of communication combined in different ways are added together to construct meaning.

This meaning is what we want to achieve when we talk about disseminating knowledge in the classroom. Disseminating literary theories based on the concept offantasy is a challenge that requires the promotion of representational character resources: orientative in the sense of bringing our students face to face with the concept, and organisational as there is a progressive learning system.

The function of fantasy, which consists of a tacit agreement between author and reader that what is being told is the product of the creative mind (Schelgelian notion of Romantic irony), is to produce emotions (disquiet in 19th century horror stories). Behind the concept of fantasy is the discovery of the creative artefact. Initially, we think only of the convention. If analogy serves any purpose, the tacit agreement between broadcaster and receiver is shown most clearly in the cinema. Let us go back to the time of one of the fathers of this aesthetic illusion: Méliés. Observing some of his contributions to cinema, we would say that he transferred the elements of fantasy to the code of images.

Fig 2.

It is precisely trickery with cameras and editing that offers us the notion offantasy as a starting point from which students can realise the unreal element of what they are seeing. They know - they guess - that manipulation has occurred to create an illusion.

It is not necessary to be reminded the link with Jules Verne's science fiction narrative in De la Terre a la Lune Trajet direct en 97 heures (1863) - another dimension of Romantic fantasy according to Max Milner (1982) - is the same essential game of mirrors or magic lantern: the grandmother of Melies' cinema. So the automaton in E.T.A. Hoffmann's "Der Sandman" (1817) and "L'Eve future" by Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam (1886), as well as Asimov's robots.

In this sense, neofantasy has served to provide a vision in which the repertoire for authors helps us to understand the stories of Pere Calders. For example, "Dema a les tres de la matinada", in which there is a man who makes a rudimentary space ship to travel to the moon.

Based on the reading of the story "Raspall" (Brush) (Croniques de la veritat oculta, 1955) by Pere Calders, we attempt to bring this sense of neofantasy into play: surrealistic irony fed by the subversion of the Romantic model.

Before this, our students have had to look at the world of Romantic irony and have developed in order to find the creative/literary meaning of Melies cinematic forms, while becoming aware that the Red Riding Hood brings with her the Roman feminine tradition of the flammeum (Gonzalez Marin 2005) via Perrault to Angela Carter. They are aware of how other authors (Poe, Maupassant, Hoffmann) work with fantasy literature. This path has brought them to the door of contemporary stories: in other words, Calders.

So, after they have read "Raspall", we ask them whether the brush at the centre of the story is a dog or a brush. This makes them doubt the meaning of literary truth and they arrive at the heart of the meaning of "hidden truth". Relativism gives way because at no time does the narrator state that the brush has become a dog. However, he does tell us how it makes it easier to capture the thief in the family home: it bites him and corners him. This doubt between fictional references and realism was defined by Massimo Bontempelli in 1932 as the essence of magical realism.

Their first task breaks into two directions: finding out about Pere Calders and about the concept of magical realism. For this purpose we recommend that they follow a webquest. Meanwhile, we accompany some of the information obtained with bibliographical assistance so they can form an idea of the dominant aesthetic in pre-war Catalan literature and how Calders continued it in exile (Piquer 2003 and 2011).

The accumulation of information around Pere Calders takes us into the historical context and into comparison with other writers of his time, as well as with some modern ones and also with magic as a mechanism for entering children's literature. Ultimately, reading the references about the author and the fantasy literature will require a reorganisation of chaos based on the concepts that appear.

At this point, the information needs to be stabilised and grouped. This task, often carried out in a group, encourages the undergraduate student teachers to show their knowledge and know how to organise it. We have taken a decisive step in two directions: we have increased the students' historico-literary repertoire and they have broadened their capacity for theoretical reflection based on literature.

4. Multimodality in didactic transposition

We ask our students to explain the knowledge acquired to evaluate how far they are capable of designing the application of literary knowledge to the world of the school classroom. It's question of knowing the point to which they have developed the critical and pedagogical capacity to use literature in matters as diverse as education in values or the simple transversality provided by a literary text. Learning language in its various forms (oral and written) is also an aim in itself.

But perhaps one of the key questions we ought to ask ourselves is the format in which we should present the story we have used as a reference, or very similar stories from the same book. It is here where the question of multimodality once again comes into play: telling the story in class putting the corporal code into action, hand or face gestures, staging it with the cooperation of primary pupils, or even reviewing a theatrical version. All these possibilities for the transition from written language to other forms open up the range towards direct interaction in the school classroom.

The activity, here, is open. From learning using projects, through pure fun and practising language, to carrying out an entire study of the figure of the author, such as the auca (a traditional form of story told in pictures) of the story read in class. We can still follow specific applications of the story with a theatrical version. The transfer of Calders' stories to the stage has already made a key contribution to relaunching Croniques de la veritat oculta, with considerable success, in Catalonia in the seventies and eighties with a theatrical production by Dagoll Dagom: Antaviana (1978).

As we can see, we have now placed the story before its final audience. The question is to knowing how to use it in the different facets of education, not simply literary education. Literary education is our teaching task at university. We have managed to expand our students' knowledge, giving them sufficient tools to make use of it in teaching various subjects at school. Now it is up to our students - the teachers of the future - who will, or will not, take it on themselves to seek applications for literature in the classroom.


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