Emotion prosody and viewer engagement in film narrative A social semiotic approach

Dezheng Feng, Yujie Qi

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This study adopts a social semiotic approach to model the dynamics of character emotion and the discursive mechanisms of viewer engagement in film narrative. Drawing upon the systemic functional semiotics (Halliday and Matthiessen, 2004), this paper proposes a metafunctional framework to elucidate how film characters' emotions are ideationally construed, interpersonally enacted, and textually organized as a "prosody". The explication of emotion prosody provides an explicit framework to explain the multi-dimensional, dynamic construction of narrative discourse. With the metafunctional model of emotion prosody, the fundamental mechanisms of viewer engagement, namely, allegiance, empathy and expectancy, are elucidated in a coherent discourse-based framework. Compared to schema-based cognitive film studies that focus on viewers' emotional reactions, the social semiotic discourse analysis provides a more explicit and analytically reliable framework to explain the multi-dimensional construction of film narrative and the discursive mechanisms of viewer engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-367
Number of pages21
JournalNarrative Inquiry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Emotion prosody
  • Film narrative
  • Multimodal discourse analysis
  • Social semiotic
  • Viewer engagement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • History
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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