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Reading Verbal and Visual Signs MLI345

The course combines the study of verbal and visual signs from both linguistic and literary/cultural perspectives. The linguistics part of the course focuses on the pragmatics and semantics of verbal and visual signs and on the 'grammar' of images, as well as on the interaction between material/medium, function and form in verbal and visual texts. The Literary Studies part of the course focuses on intertextuality and metonymic coding and/or critical literacy behind verbal and visual images, imagery, and symbolic elements of a text.

The course has a limited number of places. 

Course description for study year 2021-2022. Please note that changes may occur.

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The Linguistics part of the course focuses on the pragmatics and 'grammar' of visual signs and their interaction with verbal signs in texts. It examines the structure, functions and uses of verbal and visual signs, including images, pictograms and writing, and the ways in which they combine to make meaning. Approaches from material philology and pragmatics are applied to a holistic study of written texts from different historical periods and representing different media.

The Literary Studies part of the course explores the ways reading, seeing, writing, and creating images takes on a social meaning in literary landscapes via verbal and visual signs. Metonymic coding and intertextuality are among the methods used to interpret texts and discover complex social relationships, diachronically and synchronically. Analysis will be grounded in critical and pre-critical literary theory and theories of language and literacy studies, which may include critical literacy strategies to unpack coding behind verbal and visual imagery in art and/or any symbols as text.

Learning outcome


The students will gain knowledge of:

  • the structure, functions and uses of verbal and visual signs
  • pictograms, proto-writing and different kinds of writing system systems
  • the ways in which meaning is produced through a combination of verbal and non-verbal elements
  • the interaction of material/medium, function and form in texts
  • visual literacy as a set of skills for interpreting images
  • theories of language, literacy, myth and identity


By the end of the course, the students will be able to:

  • define and describe verbal and visual signs
  • relate the use of visual elements to the medium, context and function of a text
  • apply a range of descriptive and critical tools to the analysis of visual elements
  • examine and inquire into the attitudes, values and beliefs conveyed by visual elements in a text
  • decode and interpret and visual signs
  • critically discuss issues of positioning that underlie all text and signal intertextuality with previous ones

General competence

By the end of the course, the students will be able to:

  • relate different uses of visual and verbal elements to changing media and functions
  • critically discuss the attitudes, values and beliefs conveyed by a text
  • apply theories from literacy studies to analyze verbal and visual elements of texts
Required prerequisite knowledge
The general requirements for admission to the MLI program: a completed BA degree or equivalent, with a major in English (including both linguistic and literary elements). Other subject combinations may be considered equivalent and have to be approved by the MLI teaching staff.

Text Analysis in Linguistics, Literature and Culture

Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Home exam 1 1/2 1 Weeks Letter grades All
Home exam 2 1/2 1 Weeks Letter grades All

Two home examinations of minimum 2500 words including both theoretical questions and hands-on analysis of images.In the assessment, English language and academic writing skills will be taken into consideration in addition to the course content.

Coursework requirements
Compulsory seminars 75%
75% attendance is mandatory at seminars. Students who are absent from more than 25% of the seminar meetings will not be allowed to sit the exam. The student has to be present for at least 2/3 of the duration of the individual seminar meeting for attendance to be recorded.
Course teacher(s)
Programme coordinator: Signe Ekenberg
Course coordinator: Dina Lialikhova
Course coordinator: Sonya Louise Lundblad
Course teacher: Sonya Louise Lundblad
Programme coordinator: Signe Ekenberg
Method of work
Lectures and / or seminars.
Open for

Literacy Studies - Master's Degree programme and Lektor programme - students with English as a major.

Limited number of places. When you sign up on Student Web you will see whether the course has already been filled or not.

Course assessment
The UiS quality system involves student evaluation of all courses.
The syllabus can be found in Leganto