Lancaster UniversityGraduate School
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

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Departmental lecture: The Dynamics of Metaphor and Empathy - Lynne Cameron (Open University)

Date: 20 May 2013 Time: 1.00-2.00 pm

Venue: FASS Meeting Room 2


My talk will reflect on outcomes of using metaphor as a research tool in a five-year project on empathy. Empathy is characterized as activity that tries to understand the feelings and thinking of another person, from their perspective. Metaphor analysis was used as a central method in investigating empathy in contexts of violence and conflict, with spoken data from UK, N Ireland, USA, Brazil, and Kenya.

Firstly, I will elaborate my hypothesis that 'metaphor favours the negative', and show how metaphors particularly contribute to the construction of negative alternative scenarios that speakers use to justify particular choices.

Secondly, I will discuss 'social landscape metaphors' that apply physical locational vehicles to social phenomena, such as divided communities or (9/11) is close to home. I show how people's embodied social interactions on local landscapes provide the basis for metaphors they use in moral reasoning about other people, and how metaphors of boundaries and home construct emotional responses to fear of violence.

Thirdly, I will show how findings from metaphor analysis are informing my choices as I build a dynamic model of empathy in dialogue.


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Linguistics and English Language


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