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Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellows' Public Lecture - How we make meaning

5th November 2015, 17:30 to 18:30, Joachim Room, College of St Hild &St Bede, Professor Barbara Dancygier, University of British Columbia

Linguistic meaning pervades all aspects of our lives. Most of the things we do every day require dealing with language in some form. The way we perceive reality and reason about it also depends on conceptualizations available through language. Language is a window to how we understand and mentally represent the world around us.

The multifaceted role of language raises many questions. How do complex linguistic meanings emerge? How are they represented in the mind? Why do we use sophisticated language forms to talk about things, people and events that have in fact never existed? Also, recent years have prompted a new set of questions, primarily about the interplay between language, image, and materiality in a whole range of multimodal artifacts, and especially about the conceptual underpinnings of their interpretation.

We need to explain how we process artifacts as diverse as Shakespearean theatre on the one hand and posters raising the awareness of climate change on the other. This talk will argue that the mystery of understanding these artifacts lies not in what their form contains for us to uncover, but how more basic concepts can be combined, enriched and transformed to yield complex meanings - concrete, abstract, or ‘fictive’. Professor Dancygier will demonstrate how processing discourse in a broad range of forms relies on several mechanisms of meaning-construction.

In other words, she will show how meaning is ‘made’, rather than just grasped.

This lecture is free and open to all.

Details about Professor Barbara Dancygier

Directions to Joachim Room, College of St Hild & St Bede

Map - College of St Hild & St Bede is denoted as building No. 30

Contact enquiries.ias@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.