Item Details

‘She does not flee the house’: A multimodal poetics of space, path and motion in opening statements

Issue: Vol 25 No. 2 (2018)

Journal: International Journal of Speech Language and the Law

Subject Areas: Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/ijsll.35619


This article shows how an attorney’s multimodal narrative transforms an opening statement into an argument about the credibility of the main prosecution witness. The defence 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 naturalise gender ideologies – cultural expectations governing victim identity – in the social construction of rape’s legal facticity.

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Author: Gregory Matoesian, Kristin Enola Gilbert

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