It is generally agreed that in photojournalism pictures come first. However, also the short verbal texts that accompany them play a crucial role, as they lead readers among the different signifieds of the image. A multimodal discourse analysis of captions will aptly consider both the linguistic elements that appear within the verbal discourse and the image-text relation. The interconnectedness of captions and pictures has lately been defined as a “loop,” a view which blurs the traditional distinction between anchoring and relaying processes theorized by Barthes. The association of the relaying function with comics, however, seems to establish an interesting point of contact between photojournalism and pop art. Captions actually show the tension between “high” and “low” culture, the former being traditionally identified with the word and the latter with the image. While in the heyday of photojournalism captions were made necessary by the poor quality of the photographs, they soon began to provide an abstractive summary of the story told by the picture. This selective process involves interpretation. For this reason, captions can be ethically misleading and even legally controversial forms of discourse, for instance when they are used instrumentally to convey a specific point of view. In photojournalism dealing with crime cases, in particular, captions may display a sensationalist and populist view of justice, thus articulating the thoughts of public opinion supported by the newspaper’s stand. My case study focuses on the caption that accompanied the photo portraying Perry Smith and Richard Hickock while leaving the courtroom on March 29, 1960. The two murderers – who have become famous after the publication of the documentary novel In Cold Blood – had just been sentenced to death by hanging. As reported by Capote, the caption that appeared in the Kansas newspaper read “The Last Laugh?” Starting from this case, the present work will try to investigate the complexity of captions as multimodal forms of discourse.
|Titolo:||“The Last Laugh?” A Multimodal Analysis of Captions in Photojournalism|
|Data di pubblicazione:||apr-2017|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1515/pol-2017-0014|
|Nome editore:||De Gruyter|
|Citazione:||“The Last Laugh?” A Multimodal Analysis of Captions in Photojournalism, 2017-04.|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01 - Articolo su rivista|