1st Edition

Reading Images for Knowledge Building Analyzing Infographics in School Science

By J.R. Martin, Len Unsworth Copyright 2023
    304 Pages 119 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This innovative volume provides a new analytic framework for understanding how meaning-making resources are deployed in images designed for knowledge building in school science.

    The framework enables analyses of science images from the perspectives of both their complexity and recognizability. Complexity deals with the technical and abstract knowledge of school science (technicality), evaluative dispositions in relation to that knowledge (iconization) and the condensation of the technical and dispositional meanings as ‘synoptic eyefuls’ in discipline-specific infographics (aggregation). Recognizability concerns the relationship between the appearance of phenomena in reality and the reconfiguration of this reality in images (congruence), the perceptibility or discernibility of the features and contexts of phenomena in images (explicitness), and how images engage their viewers (affiliation). The framework is illustrated by more than 100 images in colour in the e-book and black and white in the paper version and will inform research into multimodal literacy pedagogy that incorporates an understanding of the role of images in the teaching and learning of school science.

    This book will be of particular interest to scholars in multimodality, semiotics, literacy education and science education.

    List of Figures

    List of Tables



    1. Images In Disciplinary Discourse in School Science

    PART I Disciplinary Discourse for Knowledge Building: Systemic Functional Semiotic Perspectives

    2. Mass and presence

      PART II Image Complexity – Mass

    3. Technicality

    4. Iconization

    5. Aggregation

      PART III Image Recognizability – Presence

    6. Explicitness

    7. Affiliation

    8. Congruence

      PART IV Applying Image Analyses for Knowledge Representation

    9. Mass Presence and Cumulative Knowledge Building

    10. Mass and Presence in Biology, Chemistry and Physics Textbook Infographics


    J.R. Martin is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Sydney. His research interests include systemic theory, functional grammar, discourse semantics, register, genre, multimodality and positive discourse analysis (PDA), focusing on English, Tagalog and Korean. He was elected a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1998, was Head of its Linguistics Section from 2010–2012, and was awarded a Centenary Medal for his services to linguistics and philology in 2003. In April 2014, Shanghai Jiao Tong University opened its Martin Centre for Appliable Linguistics, appointing Professor Martin as Director.

    Len Unsworth is Professor in English and Literacies Education in the Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education (ILSTE) at the Australian Catholic University. Len’s current research interests include systemic functional semiotic perspectives on multimodal and digital disciplinary literacies and in English curricula. His most recent books include Multimodal Literacy in School Science: Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Theory, Research and Pedagogy (Routledge, 2022), Learning from Animations in Science Education: Innovating in Semiotic and Educational Research (2020), and Literacy for Digital Futures: Mind, Body, Text with Kathy Mills and Laura Scholes (Routledge, 2022). https://lenunsworth.wordpress.com/.