Workshop on Cognitive Allegory

Poster Session

The students of Medieval Allegory and Cognitive Rhetoric will be holding a poster session during the workshop lunch. Please see the abstracts below and stop by to tour the posters during the Workshop.

Nike Abbott
Title: The Mask of Irony
Abstract: Irony is described by Raymond Gibbs as an everyday cognition and a natural mode of thinking. Because irony allows us to say things more freely than we could say literally, it is one of the greatest weapons at our disposal. Gibbs differentiates between verbal and situational irony and claims "dramatic irony" is the only instance where the two are combined. Since irony is so dependent on audience agreement (as a Gricean principle), I would argue, in fact, that irony must necessarily always be situational, whether spatial or temporal. Blending theory may be a useful tool in examining dynamics of verbal and situational irony. Although verbal irony could be described as intentional while situational irony as unintentional, it could very well be more complex than that. For the purposes of this research, the interest will be focused on the rhetorical device of intentional irony. Yet, how is irony set apart from literal interpretation? How can we know when an author's intent is ironic? A closer examination of how irony works cognitively may help determine whether or not certain passages of Piers Plowman could be ironic. What would an ironic reading tell us about the author and his contemporary audience?

Judy Hemming
Title: Dimensionality in Medieval Allegory: Mapping Narrative Metalepsis to a Spatial Model
Abstract: In medieval allegory, characters often experience a diminishment or an enhancement in abilities when they break diegetic quarantine and cross to a different diegetic level (Paxson). If each narrative level is seen as a different conceptual frame, then movement between these frames can build meaning across multiple spaces (Turner). In terms of a spatial model, perhaps it would be fruitful to conceive of the differences in diegetic levels as having different spatial dimensions, such as the difference between a two-dimensional realm and a three-dimensional realm. This concept can provide a model for understanding the enhancement (expansion) or diminishment (flattening) in characters’ abilities when they cross a diegetic boundary. In the poem “Piers Plowman,” the protagonist Will has a change in his ability to perceive the world around him as he shifts across different diegetic levels. The blended space created by his movement across boundaries helps to construct the allegorical meaning of the poem.

Leanne Hill
Title: The ICM of Jealousy in Chaucer's "A Miller's Tale"
Abstract: This project examines the ICM of jealousy in Chaucer's "The Miller's Tale". In this tale, the general metaphor that "imbalanced emotions are a disease" (based on Galen's theory of the four humours) is combined with the conceptual metaphor of "jealousy is poison". The mapping of this source domain onto the target domain of jealousy produces the social experience of cuckoldry. This mapping will be compared to Aquinas' two definitions of jealousy: first, that jealousy can be a beneficial effect of love (zelus); and second, that suspicion without reason shames a man and his wife (zelotypia). The churlish miller exhibits his belief that the old jealous carpenter was shamed by his own uncontrollable envy, and this belief is a product of his own social experience. The overarching concept of Galen's theory of humours will be shown to support the ICM of jealousy, as jealousy takes on personifications of disease because of its imbalance of emotions.

Allan McDougall
Title: Knocking on Heaven's Door: Figurative Language in 13 End-of-Life Interviews
Abstract: 70% of Canadians will die in a hospital, yet only in the past decade have medical researchers shifted their focus from pain and symptom management to the meaning of a “good death”? Dignity Interviews are formalized, end-of-life psychotherapeutic interventions qualitatively proven to reduce psychological and existential suffering for palliative care/hospice patients. This project presents the results of a constant comparative discourse analysis of Dignity Interviews conducted over the past 18 months between a psychiatrist and 13 inpatients in the palliative stage of their care trajectory. Patients answered 12 questions in a semi-structured interview protocol with the overall goal of co-creating a rich legacy document to be edited and shared with their loved ones. This qualitative analysis presents the rhetorical and analogic patterns found in these patients’ final narratives.

Byron Rigo
Title: Event Metaphors and Temporal Perception: Understanding Time and Distance in Figurative Journeys
Abstract: Event metaphors, as I will call them, essentially describe a change in a state of activity, usually in terms of a “trip” or a “journey.” Of course, these metaphors rarely describe literal movement. More frequently, for example, someone simply sails through their work, hits a roadblock, or gets tied up in something. However, while these metaphors often describe a stationary process, there are two interesting connections to time and distance within them. Firstly, stationary work takes time, and distance can be, and often is, measured in time. Secondly, one’s work may, in fact, be based on movement, either directly – an engineer building a new, faster engine – or indirectly – an office worker finishing a report before he can drive home. To add yet another level of complexity, time is subjective, and perceived time may be slower or faster depending on a wide variety of factors. This project will then explore whether event metaphors are connected to literal travel, and, perhaps more importantly, whether such metaphors can have an effect on perceived travel time.

Daniel Zulauf
Title: Metaphoric and Metonymic "Signals" in Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal
Abstract: Ingmar Bergman's film The Seventh Seal is an allegory in which the central characters archetypically represent certain psychological or philosophical human conditions (with the exception of the personified abstract concept of Death). Each character, in turn, responds to the film's central existential question of the meaning of life according to their representative philosophy. In its allegorical representation, the film operates, often concurrently, on two diegetic layers (narrative levels), to borrow Paxson's term, with Death occupying, exclusively, the metadiegetic layer of personification while the rest of the characters largely occupying the main diegetic layer of the central narrative, although metalepsis, the "blending" of these two diegetic layers does occur (e.g. with the Knight and Death playing chess). What is interesting about the film from a cognitive perspective, however, is how Bergman uses figuration - visual metaphors and metonymies in particular - to signal and draw the viewer's attention to the film's diegetic structure and to certain thematically salient points within the "text." Metalepsis, for example, is repeatedly signalled by certain aural or visual cues: silence or a visual darkening of the screen space. In many cases the viewer is expected to recognize and complete these metaphoric and metonymic signals, images or patterns. Such completion often involves the observers blending the pictorially or structurally significant visual components of the composition to, in a sense, construct the implied metaphor themselves. In this way, one could argue, the film is structured and composed in relation to the figurative functioning of the mind.