HENK0391AU English - Free topic 3: Meaning in Mind and Society

Volume 2016/2017

Meaning is the central concept in the humanities, and the most basic property of language. From the point of view of the individual language user, meaning comes across as a mental or cognitive phenomenon.  But it is also a social fact, i.e. something that involves human groups and institutional practices, including things like general elections: understanding involves meaning assignment, collective as well as individual.

In the past generation, meaning has been most dynamically explored as part of cognitive science, whose goal was a complete description of the powers of the human mind, uniting psychologists, philosophers, linguists and other disciplines in an umbrella discipline dedicated to this ambitious goal. In linguistics, a key framework is Cognitive Linguistics with George Lakoff, Leonard Talmy and Ronald Langacker as main figures. But cognitive science has now progressed so far that it is beginning to face issues with social dimensions, and this calls for a theory that includes the relations between meaning as a property of the mind and meaning as a dimension of social life.

From a critical perspective, meaning in society is typically studied with power and social construction as central concepts, based on a poststructural approach that understands human subjects as victims of oppression and manipulation (Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu are key figures in this approach). In the past generation, the critical approach has been modified by a postmodern tendency, stressing the individuals’ options for imposing their own social constructions on reality: since what masquerades as reality is just a social construction, my own constructions (e.g. of gender roles and personal identity) are just as valid.

The course addresses these themes and suggests an approach that captures the dynamic interplay between individual and collective forces, based on a theory of cultural evolution and ‘niche construction’. Among examples of meaning in social space are the concept of ‘securitization’, as explored in the Copenhagen School of international relations, the issue of ethnic and national identity, the role of norms  for social life, and the role of key cultural concepts as sources of ‘selection pressure’ shaping the lives of individuals living in a cultural niche. Course materials include Peter Harder Meaning in Mind and Society (price: around 600 kr when purchased via the teacher) and a course compendium.

P.Harder. 2010. Meaning in Mind and Society. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Course anthology.


Some relevant references:

  • Bourdieu, Pierre. 1991. Language and Symbolic Power. Cambridge: Polity Press
  • Chilton, Paul. 1996. Security Metaphors. Cold War Discourse from Containment to Common House. New York etc: Peter Lang.
  • Chilton, Paul. 2004. Analysing Political Discourse. Theory and Practice. London: Routledge.
  • De Cillia, Rudolf, Martin Reisigl and Ruth Wodak.1999.  The discursive construction of national identities. Discourse and Society 10, 2, 149-173.
  • Dirven, René, Bruce Hawkins and Esra Sandikcioglu (eds.). 2001. Language and Ideology.  Vol. I. Theoretical cognitive approaches. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
  • Croft, William.A. 2009. Toward a Social Cognitive Linguistics. New Directions in Cognitive Linguistics, ed. by Vyvyan Evans and Stephanie Pourcel. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 395-420.
  • Dirven, René, Roslyn Frank and Cornelia Ilie (eds.) 2001. Language and Ideology. Vol. II. Descriptive cognitive approaches. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
  • Evans, Vyvyan. 2009. How Words Mean. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Evans, Vyvyan and Melanie Green. (2006). Cognitive Linguistics. An Introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Geeraerts, Dirk.2003: Decontextualizing and Recontextualiing Tendencies in 20th Century Linguistics and Literary Theory. In Ewald Mengel, Hans-Jörg Schmied & Michael Steppat (eds.) Anglistentag 2002 Bayreuth, 369-379. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag.
  • Geeraerts, Dirk.2003. Cultural models of linguistic standardization. In Cognitive Models in Language and Thought. Ideology, Metaphors and Meaning, ed. by René Dirven, Roslyn Frank, and Martin Pütz,. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 25-68
  • Geeraerts, Dirk and Stefan Grondelaers. 1995. Looking back at anger. Cultural traditions and metaphorical patterns. In Language and the Construal of the World. Ed. by John Taylor and Robert E. Mac Laury 153-180. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Gibbs, Raymond W.     1999. Taking Metaphor Out of our Heads and Putting It Into the Cultural World, in Gibbs, R.W and G.J. Steen (eds.), 145-166
  • Gibbs, Raymond W. & Gerard J. Steen (eds.).1999. Metaphor in Cognitive Linguistics. (=Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 175) Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins
  • Goldberg, Adele. 2006. Constructions at work. The nature of generalizations in language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Goddard, Cliff. 2006. “Lift your game Martina!”: deadpan jocular irony and the ethnopragmatics of Australian English. Chapter 3 in Goddard (ed.) 2006.
  • Goddard, Cliff (ed.). 2006. Ethnopragmatics. Understanding Discourse in a Cultural Context. (Applications of Cognitive Linguistics 3). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Hawkins. Bruce. 1997. The Social Dimension of a Cognitive Grammar, in Liebert, Redeker and Waugh (eds.) 21-36.
  • Hutton, Christopher. 2001. Cultural and Conceptual Relativism, Universalism and the Politics of Linguistics. Dilemmas of a would-be progressive linguistics. In Dirven, Hawkins & Sandikcioglu (eds.), 277-296.
  • Peter E. Jones.2001. Cognitive Linguistics and the Marxist Approach to Ideology In Dirven, Hawkins & Sandikcioglu (eds.), 227-252.
  • Kristiansen, Gitte and Rene Dirven (eds). 2008. Cognitive Sociolinguistics. Language Variation, Cultural Models, Social Systems. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Kristiansen, Gitte & Dirk Geeraerts. 2007. On non-reductionist intercultural pragmatics and methodological procedure. In Explorations in Pragmatics. Linguistic, Cognitive and Intercultural Aspects, ed. By Istvan Kecskes & Laurence R. Horn. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 257-286.
  • Kristiansen, Gitte, Michel Achard, Rene Dirven, and Francisco J, Ruiz de Mendoza Ibàñez (eds.) 2006. Cognitive Linguistics: Current Applications and Future Perspectives. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Kronenfeld, David. 2008. Culture, Society, and Cognition. Collective Goals, Values, Action and Knowledge. (Mouton Series in Pragmatics 3). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Kövecses, Zoltan 1999. Metaphor: Does it constitute or reflect cultural models?, In Gibbs, Raymond W. & Gerard J. Steen (eds.). 167-187
  • Lakoff, George. 2008. The Political Mind. Why You Can’t Understand  21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain. London: Viking
  • Langacker, Ronald W. 1987. Foundations of Cognitive Grammar, vol.1: Theoretical Prerequisites. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Langacker, Ronald W. 1990  Concept, Image, and Symbol: The Cognitive Basis of Grammar. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Langacker, Ronald W 1991.  Foundations of Cognitive Grammar , vol.2: Descriptive Applications. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Langacker, R.W. 1999.  Assessing the cognitive linguistic enterprise. In Th. Janssen and G. Redeker. (eds.) 13-59.
  • Langacker, Ronald W. 2002. Discourse in Cognitive Grammar. Cognitive Linguistics 12, 2, 143-188.
  • Liebert, Wolf-Andreas, Gisela Redeker and Linda Waugh (eds.). 1997. Discourse and Perspective in Cognitive Linguistics. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
  • Morgan, Pamela. 2001. The Semantics of an Impeachment. Meanings and Models in a Political Conflict, in Dirven , Frank and Ilie (eds.) 77-106.
  • Nerlich, Brigitte.  2004. Risk, Blame  and Culture: Foot and Mouth Disease and the Debate about Cheap Food.  The Politics of Food, ed. by Marianne Elisabeth Lien & Brigitte Nerlich.  Oxford: Berg.39-57.
  • Rohrer, Tim: Even the interface is for sale: Metaphors, Visual Blends and the Hidden Ideology of the Internet, in Dirven, Frank and Ilie (eds.), Language and Ideology Vol II, 189-214.
  • Urban, Nancy. 2008. The business model of the university: Sources and consequences of its construal. In Kristiansen and Dirven (eds.). 449-482.
  • Verhagen, Arie 2002. From parts to wholes and back again. Cognitive Linguistics 13,4. 403-439.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 176,75
  • Total
  • 204,75