LSA 222: Narrative and viewpoint

Barbara Dancygier | session 2 | MW 3:30 – 5:15, 2060 Valley Life Sciences Building (VLSB)

In this course we will look at the ways in which cognitive linguistics tools (mental spaces, construction grammar, blending, frame theory) can be used in analyzing the linguistic correlates of the processing of longer narrative artifacts (mostly, fiction, but also drama, travel writing, etc.). We will start with some basic cognitive and linguistic concepts, such as causation, sequentiality, temporality, or deixis, to then move on to a more thorough investigation of two ranges of constructions: referential expressions and representation of speech and thought (STR).

We will first look at the use of expressions such as pronouns, proper names, role descriptors and common nouns in the construction of narrative meaning, and, more specifically, in the representation and construction of narrative viewpoint. In the second part of the course we will focus on oft-mentioned STR categories such as direct, indirect, or free indirect discourse, but our primary interest will be in all of these forms (as well as other forms) as a cluster of constructions. We will investigate STR constructions against the proposed claim that they rely heavily on the need to represent narrative viewpoint, rather than actual stretches of discourse. We will look at various linguistic options here (sentential structure, tense, pronominal choices, adverbials, etc.) in terms of constructional compositionality -- the mechanism which explains how lower level linguistic choices support higher levels of constructional meaning. Also, we will study the various ways in which these constructions rely on viewpoint compression as the primary mechanism of the emergence of narrative meaning.

Reading: Selected materials available online.

Prerequisites: Some basic knowledge of blending would be useful.

Areas of linguistics: Language and thought

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