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A parent and two children play a pretend game on a living room rug while folding clothes. The 3-year-old suggests the father become a vampire bat to defeat the evil hunters of Cruella de Vil, a Disney cartoon villain who has become a regular protagonist in the family’s pretend play. She urges him (as a bat) to fly into the backyard — pointing to a spot on the rug where shortly before they had found some mud and vacuumed it up. The father consults the 8-year-old daughter about how to be a vampire bat. This stretch of interaction is being videotaped by the mother as a way to explore Goffman’s (1981) notion of footings for a graduate seminar. Almost a decade later, after the video has been transcribed, discussed, and written about in a series of texts, the transcript and digitized version of the original videotape becomes one of three data sets analysed in a co-authored article (Prior et al. 2006). Whether the term “semiotics” is familiar or not, this vignette illustrates how thoroughly and necessarily life involves the historically unfolding blend (and it is always a blend) of multiple semiotic resources, including oral language, embodied action and gesture, perception of environments, written texts, films, music, and touch.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to English Studies
EditorsConstant Leung, Brian V Street
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781315852515, 9781317918929
ISBN (Print)9780415676182
StatePublished - Mar 2014


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