Communication ETDs

Publication Date



The purpose of this dissertation is to propose a multimodal approach as an alternative way of theorizing and researching identity. The multimodal approach utilizes four modes of interaction--multidirectional interpellation, spatiality, temporality, and corporealit--to explore the processes of interaction and engagement between an individual and his/her social worlds. The multimodal approach focuses on the materiality of lived experience and the process of interaction and engagement between an individual and his/her social worlds through which his or her identity materializes. I apply the multimodal approach to analyze two autobiographical texts in which the authors deal with Asian identity in different cultural and discursive contexts in Japan and Asian America. I focus on the idea of Asia and explore how it translates into and interacts with personal experiences of the autobiographical subjects to constitute not only their identities but also Asia itself. The primary focus of this dissertation is to shed light on the situated and embodied experiences of individual subjects whose identities and subjectivities materialize into existence through complex interactions among cultural significations, personal acts and interpretations, as well as multiple and competing ideological environments. With the emphasis on the lived and embodied experience, this study benefits from the philosophical tradition of phenomenology. Moreover, with the critique of totalizing social categories (race, gender, class, etc.) and the emphasis on the contested boundaries of discursively articulated differences, this study also takes a poststructuralist approach to identity theorizing. Combined together, what I propose as a multimodal approach takes into account both the subjectively lived experience (a living, thinking, acting, and intentional subject in the world) and the historically situated ideological and discursive environments (a subject as a contingent product of historical and discursive construction) in constituting one's identity.




Materiality, Identity, the Self, Multimodal Approach, Asia

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Cramer, Janet

First Committee Member (Chair)

Collier, Mary Jane

Second Committee Member

Condon, John

Third Committee Member

Rodriguez, Ilia

Fourth Committee Member

Allen, Ricky