Pädagogische Bildtexte. Kontrastive Analysen von Bild-Text-Beziehungen in deutschen und schwedischen Geschichtslehrbüchern


The thesis examines captions in history textbooks. Captions can be described as short texts connected to images. They have a complex function involving highlighting information, and can be comments, interpretations or questions directly addressing the reader in terms of their nature. Captions in textbooks have a more or less enunciated didactic or educational aim. I call them educational captions. 

By using a triangulation of methods and theories, such as multimodal text analysis, linguistic comparative discourse analysis and systemic-functional grammar, this thesis explores how meaning and knowledge are discursively represented and conveyed by captions in history textbooks. The corpus consists of German and Swedish history textbooks for upper secondary school pupils. A total of 26 examples have been selected, taking into account various considerations regarding qualitative research, and have been analysed in detail. For the detailed analyses, a flowchart for processing the categories has been designed: presentation of the caption with its image, location within the textbook, image description, image-text-arrangement, processes, agency and grammatical metaphor, construction of subjects, recontextualization and (re)presentation of the historical event. The examples represent three historical events: The Berlin Blockade, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

The analyses show that the length of captions can differ a lot – they can consist of a name or be a longer text with a narrative character. The uses of history differ in German and Swedish textbooks. German captions treat the associated pictures like documents by using letters and numbers to describe them; moreover they provide information about time and place. In contrast, the Swedish ones are more narrative in nature. Subjects are constructed differently in the multimodal representations of the events, the most significant of which is the positive (re)presentation of the USA during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Berlin Blockade. First and foremost, meaning and knowledge are discursively represented and expressed by the selection of the image. This choice influences how the captions are formed and meanings conveyed. Iconic pictures representing a celebrating crowd on the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate serve to construct national identity, together with national symbols, in German textbooks, and captions reinforce this meaning potential. The captions demonstrate that their meaning potential lies within their function of being an interface in the multimodal composition of the textbook, and captions also indicate the different uses of history in the two different educational systems. Finally, their potential in constructing and transforming discursive knowledge and meanings is demonstrated.