Prof. Dr. Irene Mittelberg
Linn-Marlen Rekittke, M.A.
Sommersemester 2013

NeuroPeirce: Cognitive-Semiotic Foundations of Interdisciplinary Gesture Research

Place: HumTec conference room 303
Time: Mondays, 10:15 - 12:30 h

This colloquium acquaints participants with empirical approaches in natural media research. The term ‘natural media' denotes any immediate means of expression that humans use to communicate with one another about objects, events, feelings, thoughts, and attitudes. Natural media include spoken and signed languages, coverbal gestures, eye gaze, body posture, and facial expressions. The main strands of research the colloquium will cover include cognitive neuroscience, cognitive linguistics, pragmatics, and semiotics. We will discuss methods of coding complex multimodal data and of combining audio/video with motion capture data analysis.

The colloquium is open to PostDocs, Ph.D. and MA students. This seminar format combines presentations of work in progress, dry-runs of conference presentations and discussions of the suggested readings. Please read the relevant literature before each seminar.

Suggested readings:
(in addition to the weekly required readings, all of which will be provided online via the L2P)

  • Dancygier, B. & Sweetser, E. (Eds.) (2012). Viewpoint in language: A multimodal perspective. Cambridge University Press.
  • Deacon, T. (1997). The symbolic species. The co-evolution of language and the brain. Norton & Co.
  • Kendon, A. (2004). Gesture. Visible bodily action as utterance. Cambridge University Press.
  • McNeill, D. (2005). Gesture and Thought. Chicago University Press.
  • Streeck, J. (2009). Gesturecraft: The manu-facture of meaning. John Benjamins.
  • Streeck, J., Goodwin, C., LeBaron, C. (Eds.) (2011). Embodied interaction: Language and the body in the material world. Cambridge University Press.


Tentative schedule (complete program to follow soon)

April 15

Intro: Forms and functions of co-speech gestures from a cognitive-semiotic perspective

Irene Mittelberg

The presentation will give a first overview of the different forms and functions co-speech gestures may assume in natural discourse. Taking the notions of embodiment and situated cognition/communication as a starting point, we will discuss aspects of both sign formation and interpretation, focusing on cognitive-semiotic modes such as iconicity, indexicality, metaphor and metonymy. We will also address the fundamental role of conceptual image schemas and force dynamics. 


McNeill, D., Haviland, J., Streeck, J. (2006). Overview Articles on Gesture. Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics. Elsevier.

Mittelberg, I. (in press). The Exbodied Mind: Cognitive-Semiotic Principles as Motivating Forces in Gesture.

       In: C. Müller, A. Cienki, E. Fricke, S.H. Ladewig, D. McNeill & S. Tessendorf (Eds.). Body - Language - Communication: An International Handbook on Multimodality in Human Interaction. Berlin, New York:     De Gruyter Mouton, 750-779.