Project "Multimodal Interaction – Action, Body, Interactional history"

Project leader: Prof Dr. Axel Schmidt

Team: Prof. Dr. Arnulf Deppermann, Dr. Alexandra Gubina, Mojenn Schubert

When people interact with each other, they do so on the basis of mutually ascribed actions. The project Multimodal Interaction - Action, Body, Interactional history focuses on the concept of action and asks how actions are constituted, displayed and ascribed in interaction. In addition to the local display and ascription of actions through linguistic and bodily means, mutually attributed knowledge (common ground) plays an important role for the constitution and ascription of actions. The project focuses on a specific source of knowledge, interactional histories, and asks how participants produce knowledge in interaction and how it matters to action constitution and action ascription.

The project explores the following questions:

  • How and by means of which resources are actions constituted and ascribed?
  • How do analysts’ ascriptions of action build on participants’ displays?
  • What role does embodied behavior play for action formation and action ascription?
  • How does knowledge accumulated in interactional histories affect action formation and action ascription?

The analyses are based on video recordings of various everyday and institutional practical settings.

The project cooperates with Elwys De Stefani and Anja Stukenbrock (Heidelberg), Barbara Fox and Chase Raymond (Boulder), Sandra Thompson (Santa Barbara, UCSB), Giovanni Rossi (Los Angeles, UCLA), Michael Haugh (Brisbane), Emma Betz (Waterloo), Anssi Peräkylä und Marja-Leena Sorjonen (Helsinki), Pentti Haddington (Oulu), Jakob Steensig (Aarhus), Lorenza Mondada (Basel), Christian Heath und Paul Luff (London, KCL), Spencer Hazel (Nottingham), Freiburg, Christian Meyer (Konstanz), Simona Pekarek Doehler (Neuchâtel), and Carl Eduard Scheidt (Universitätsmedizin Freiburg).

The project has four subprojects

  1. Action formation and action ascription
  2. Multimodal resources of action
  3. Interactional histories of action ascriptions and action routines
  4. Meta-communication and representation of actions

Contact: Prof. Dr. Axel Schmidt (; Prof. Dr. Arnulf Deppermann (deppermann(at), Dr. Alexandra Gubina (gubina(at), Mojenn Schubert (schubert(at)

Director and actress develop a performance together (Nationaltheater Mannheim, own photo)