Communicating : The Multiple Modes of Human Communication book cover
2nd Edition

The Multiple Modes of Human Communication

ISBN 9780415837804
Published February 17, 2014 by Routledge
360 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Many accounts of human communication suggest that we are limited to communicating through words, visual images, the mass media and by digital means. This perspective underestimates the multisensory qualities of much of our human interconnecting and the multiple sounds, touches, sights and material objects which humans use so creatively to interconnect both nearby and across space and time.

Ruth Finnegan brings together research from linguistic and sensory anthropology, alternative approaches to 'material culture' and 'the body', non-verbal communication, cultural studies, computer-mediated communication, and illuminating work on animal communication. Examples from both western and non-western cultures together with plentiful illustrations enrich and deepen the analysis.

The book uncovers the amazing array of sounds, sights, smells, gestures, looks, movements, touches and material objects which humans use so creatively to interconnect both nearby and across space and time - resources consistently underestimated in those western ideologies that prioritise 'rationality' and referential language.

Focussing on embodied and material processes, and on practice rather than text, this comparative analysis challenges the underlying cognitive and word-centred model common to many approaches to communication.

The second edition of Communicating includes a new introduction, updates to take account of recent work, an additional chapter covering ethereal non-verbal non-bodily communicating such as telepathy and dreams, fresh illustrations, a new conclusion and updated bibliography.

This authoritative but accessible book is an essential transdisciplinary overview for researchers and advanced students in language and communication, anthropology and cultural studies.

Table of Contents

Part 1 Foundations 1. Communicating Humans...but what does that mean? 2.How Can We Communicate? The Basic Resources of Humans and Other Animals Part II Channels of Communication 3. The Sounding World and its Creation 4. Shaping the Sights: vision and the communicating body 5. Creating and Sharing Sights: human arts and artefacts 6. Sensing the Odour 7. Communicating Touch Part III The Multiple Creativity in Human Communicating 8 . Communicating Through the Ether: a story of dreaming, death and the imaginary 9. A Mix of Arts 10. Through Space and Time

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Ruth Finnegan is Emeritus and Visiting Research Professor in Sociology at The Open University , UK. Her previous publications include Oral Literature in Africa (1970), Oral Poetry (1977/1992), Information Technology (1987), Literacy and Orality (1988), The Hidden Musicians (1989), Oral Traditions and the Verbal Arts (1992), South Pacific Oral Traditions (1995), andTales of the City (1998).


‘This is an intriguing exploration of the many means that we use to communicate, not only utilizing our language "sense" but all of our senses to give and receive messages. With many empirical and literary examples, it deepens our understanding of ourselves.’

Nancy Bonvillain, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, USA

Praise for the first edition:

'It's an ideal work for students of anthropology, cultural studies and of course, communication, but would also be of interest to anyone who wants an insight into how human beings work with each other, and how far we have come in achieving this.'

Peter Taylor-Whiffen, The Independent

'Finnegan pushes the reader to think of communication as involving our five senses, as moving into an ethereal realm, and as crossing geographic distance and time. Finnegan relies on her broad and rich grounding in anthropology and combines this with brilliant and thought-provoking insights from other fields of study.'

James Stahl, Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics