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Worked example: Semiotic systems at work in the text

Text: Grim Crims and Convicts by Jackie French, ‘Pests, Pox and Plague’ (Chapter 7), pages 63–65

Semiotic system What can you identify in the text and what meaning does this have for the reader?

Visual

Frame/shot

Angle

Colour

Lighting

Intertextuality

Objects as symbols

 

Image on page 64 is a long shot to give the reader lots of information about what is happening: there are very sick Indigenous people and the colonists are helping them.

Consider why grey tones were selected as a design element.

Image on page 65 is a very long shot to take in a large area that shows nobody is there. Although the image represents Indigenous people as ‘gone’, actually they were not all gone. Some survived and there are still strong Indigenous communities there today.

Object as symbol – image of rat – associated with plague and disease.

Audio

Pitch

Volume

Expression

Pacing

Voice

Silence

Sound effects

Music

There are no call-outs used in this part of the text.

Gestural

Expressions

Gestures

Movement

Gaze

Proximity

Physical contact

Facial expressions

Body language

Image on page 64 shows the colonists helping the Indigenous people. They are in close contact: one is even carrying an Indigenous person on his back. An Indigenous person lies on the ground as if very sick or dead. People in boats have their heads hung as if they are sick. Guards are in the water helping. All of these features give a message that the colonists were helpful to the sick Indigenous people.

Spatial

Layout and landscape

How things are organised

How things are placed on a page

Setting and props

Separate text boxes on pages 63 and 64 – salience – used to highlight the important information.

Shape of boxes is like a piece of paper and the box that tells about the death of Arabanoo is like a notice.

Use of subtitles to organise information.

Placing the images on pages 64 and 65 almost side by side: before and after.