The dynamics of metaphors I: a workshop on the rationality of metaphorical mechanisms (Center for Semiotics – Århus, 23rd October 2009)

What is at stake in studying metaphors in 2009? What are the theoretical and analytical myths to still be avoided and what are the potentialities to further explore?

Metaphors are and have been a pivotal point of discussion since – at least – Aristotle (Eco 2002; Jakel 1999; Lorusso 2005, Leezenberg 2001). Conceived as linguistic or conceptual, creative or dead, unconscious or rhetorical, cultural or embodied, deviating from or grounding common linguistic uses, metaphors have provoked crucial discussions in many research fields, spawning an incredible amount of literature (Gibbs 1994 and 2008; Lakoff & Johnson 1980 and 1999; Fauconnier & Turner 2002; Visetti & Cadiot 2001 and 2006). This is exactly the reason why it is important to sketch a state-of-the-art focusing on the cognitive stances, in order to collect yet-to-develop potentialities in old approaches and to move beyond stereotyped conceptions.

We aim at creating the conditions for a critical framework at the interface between semiotics and cognitive linguistics. A framework in which metaphors can be described as dynamically emerging from the interaction of cognitive processes and linguistic structures. An ecologically embodied point of view (Gibbs 2006; Violi 2006; Zlatev 1997) is assumed as necessary and a more general semiotic approach (in particular a Peircean-one) can be proved extremely useful to comprehend conceptual structures as dynamic resources which generality does not rigidly determine local occurrences (Stjernfelt 2007).

The focus of the discussion will be on:
– the aims of metaphoric models and the rationality of a descriptive approach.
– the dynamic relation between the innovation of the metaphor and what is already known
– the relation between the local metaphor and its pragmatic context; between the metaphoric type and the micro-mechanisms that constitute its “living generality”

The speakers will be:
•    Yves-Marie Visetti, Victor Rosenthal, Jean Lassègue: Metaphors and semiotic practices: the question of perceptual models
•    Simone Morgagni: Exploring GUI Metaphors in the continuity of meaning construction
•    Riccardo Fusaroli: Generality and variation: on the social life of metaphors
•    Gabriela Sauciuc: Affective metaphor in everyday speech: an exploration through six languages
•    Bent Sørensen: Peirce, diagrams and metaphors
•    Anders Hougaard: the unfolding of metaphorical constructions in conversations

A call for posters:

We would like to complement the session with a limited number of posters, which discussion should take place at the end of the presentations. The posters can either present ongoing researches or better clarify the theoretical sources discussed in the session, focusing on single authors or theories.

Poster proposals have to be sent before August 21st to both the organisers:
Simone Morgagni (simone.morgagni[à] and Riccardo Fusaroli (fusaroli[à]

Poster proposals cannot exceed a length of 500 words and need to explicit the main statement and to clearly display the argumentative structure of the poster.
Notification of acceptance will be given by September 1st.

All the best,
Riccardo Fusaroli (Scuola Superiore di Studi Umanistici – Università di Bologna & Center for Semiotics – Århus)
Simone Morgagni (LIAS – IMM, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales & Scuola Superiore di Studi Umanistici – Università di Bologna)

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