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Choi, Jinsook
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Posing a winner: Multimodal Representations of ‘Successful’ Science and Engineering Protagonists

Choi, Jinsook
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Sociolinguistic Symposium 22
In this paper, I explore the ways in which the stereotyped figure of the ‘successful’ science and engineering personhood is created, circulated and instilled with indexical values such as confidence, success, and achievement. Adopting a semiotic analysis of visual communication (Ledin and Machin 2017; Thurlow and Jaworski 2010, 2014; Urciuoli 2014), I describe and analyze photographic data, focusing on the use of diverse semiotic resources, e.g., posture, laboratory equipment, eye gaze, and gesture. The photographic data collected at a Korean science-technology university include publicity photographs displayed in the elevator, LCD screen, and the university websites. As is increasingly common among higher education institutions around the world, this institution highlights competitiveness as an important personal attribute in the era of neoliberal capitalism. I argue that the media images of persons the university produce and circulate are not mere representations of reality, but mediatized constructs (Agha 2011). I further argue that the semiotic displays of the protagonists do not only index their purported achievements, but also evoke the panoptical effect that prevails in the field of higher education institutions in the era of technology-driven neoliberal capitalism.
The University of Auckland


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