Special issue:Journal for Language Teaching, Volume 53, Number 2
TopicTeaching academic writing in a multimodal era

Literacy is inextricably bound to an array of social, technological and economic factors. According to Kress (2003) two specific influences have given rise to a revolution in the uses and effects of modes and media for representing and communicating at almost every level and in every domain: the global move from the dominance of writing to the dominance of the image, and the move from the dominance of the medium of the printed document to the medium of the screen – computer, tablet, and cell phone.

The dominance of the computer screen has widened the scope of modes from the written text and the visual image to also include the spoken word (narration), sound (e.g. music), movement (video and animation) and gesture (Kress 2009). In the domain of academic writing these changes have created opportunities and imperatives, such as:

  • Aligning the teaching of academic writing with changes in school and university learners’ self-selected literacy practices. Recent research has shown that adolescents are using digital technologies and new media widely and for a range of purposes, including frequent visits to online social spaces, creating their own web pages, and communicating through multimedia applications on their cell phones (Evans 2007; Lewis & Chandler-Olcott 2009).
  • Facilitating multimodal composition both on paper (text, colour and images) and on screen (multimodal ensembles comprising oral narration, written text, sound, movement, and colour), among others to provide writers who have difficulty in using language, especially ESL writers, with powerful tools for sharing knowledge and for self expression.
  • Performing online assessment, using tools such as Turnitin, to grade and give feedback through narration (e.g. for sight-impaired students) and conventional text.
  • Scaffolding writing in one-on-one tutoring sessions through verbal interaction, and complementing speech with appropriate body language, visual aids, and printed or digital reference sources.
  • Assisting students generally to develop certain kinds of disciplinary knowledge (Archer 2010; Jewitt & Kress 2003; Johns 1998; Van Leeuwen 2003).

Original contributions of between 5000 and 6000 words are invited on any aspect of the teaching and learning of academic writing using multimodal repertoires or technologies to scaffold the mastery of academic writing as well as to compose, deconstruct and assess texts. Papers are requested to be focused on Southern African contexts.


  • Archer, A. 2010. Multimodal texts in higher education and the implications for writing pedagogy, English in Education, 44/3, 200-213.
  • Evans, J. 2007. K-12 students speak up about technology and learning: Are we listening? Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI07109A.pdf. 27 April 2011.
  • Jewitt, C. & Kress, G. (Eds.). 2003. Introduction. In Multimodal literacy. New York: Lang. pp. 1–18.
  • Johns, A.M. 1998. The visual and the verbal: A case study in macroeconomics. English for Specific Purposes, 17/2, 183–197.
  • Kress, G. 2003. Literacy in the new media age. London: Routledge.
  • Kress, G. 2009.What is a mode? In C. Jewitt (Ed.) The Routledge handbook of multimodal analysis. London: Routledge. pp. 54-67.
  • Lewis, E.C. & Chandler-Olcott, K. 2009. From screen to page: secondary English teachers’ perspectives on redesigning their teaching of literature in the New Literacies era. In K.M. Leander, D.W. Rowe, D.K. Dickinson, M.K. Hundley & R.T. Jimenez (Eds). 58th Yearbook of the National Reading Conference. Oak Creek, Wisconsin: National Reading Conference. pp. 205-217.
  • Van Leeuwen, T. 2003. A multimodal perspective on composition. In T. Ensink, & C. Sauer (Eds.). Framing and perspectivising in discourse. Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. pp. 23–61.

Submission of articles: 31July 2019

 (the deadline has been extended)
Reviews to be completed: July 2019
Revisions due: September 2019
Publication: November 2019

All papers should be submitted electronically on our website: link removed
Unfortunately, no abstracts or papers submitted via any other medium can be considered.Guest editors

Prof. Adelia Carstens  — adelia.carstens@up.ac.za
Dr Henk Louw — henk.louw@nwu.ac.za
Dr Elsa Meihuizen — elsa.meihuizen@nwu.ac.za
Dr Avasha Rambiritch — avasha.rambiritch@up.ac.za
Mr Zander Janse van Rensburg — zander.jansevanrensburg.nwu.ac.za

Prof. Tobie van Dyk  — tobie.vandyk@nwu.ac.za

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