University of Illinois at Chicago
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She Does Not Flee the House: A Multimodal Poetics of Space, Path, and Motion in Opening Statement

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-01-14, 00:00 authored by Gregory Matoesian, Kristin Enola Gilbert
This paper shows how an attorney’s multimodal narrative transforms an opening statement into an argument about the credibility of the main prosecution witness. The defense attorney integrates speech, gestures, and exhibits to shape motion events and spatial images into relevant objects of evidentiary knowledge, creating inconsistencies in the witness’s account under the auspices of merely showing the jury locations and movements in the defendant’s home. We demonstrate how the encoding of motion events percolates in and through a polyrhythmic and multidimensional poetic format to naturalize gender ideologies – cultural expectations governing victim identity – in the social construction of rape’s legal facticity.


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Matoesian, G., & Gilbert, K. E. (2018). 'She does not flee the house': A multimodal poetics of space, path and motion in opening statements. International Journal of Speech Language and the Law, 25(2), 123-149. doi:10.1558/ijsll.35619


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