chapter  6
Multimodality
Pages 48

The emergence of cinematography as a revolutionary form of representational technology in the late nineteenth century ended the monopoly that the printing press had held on the mass production and consumption of culture since the Middle Ages. As the cultural historian Karin Littau (2006) explains, the materiality and semiotic fabric of fi lm redefi ned our understanding of writing and reading practices. The medium of fi lm was ‘able to translate, by technologically reproducing, hallucinatory images onto the screen’ (2006: 7) through a unique synthesis of content, form and matter. The extent to which the representational idiosyncrasy of fi lms conditioned viewers’ readings of and affective responses to these new texts was soon noted by literary critics and authors, concerned by the rapid rise of fi lm as a rival form of entertainment to the novel. ‘As a medium which bombards viewers with the quick succession of moving pictures’, they feared, ‘fi lm so entrances spectators that they react to, rather than refl ect on, what they see’ (Littau 2006: 8).