Conceptual Metaphor Theory vs. cognitive narratology

Michael Sinding explains the theories of Conceptual Metaphor Theory and cognitive narratology and how he understands these together. He writes:

“I take the notion of the schema as the main type of conceptual structure that links cognitive research on metaphor and on narrative. I propose to examine the role of schemas in several “Metaphor scenarios” that are central in the debate – that is, conventional metaphors played out in the form of mini-narratives using rich experiential knowledge of source domains to create rich conceptualization and evaluation of target domains.” (p.79)

“Until 1980, so the story goes, metaphor was thought of as primarily linguistic, a use of expression X to substitute for expression Y. For example, “the head of the country” substitutes “head” for “ruler,” and the incongruous expression [-p.80] achieves some rhetorical effect unavailable to the expected expression. In 1980, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s Metaphors We Live By (2003 [1980]) replaced this Aristotelian picture with CMT, according to which metaphor is primarily a matter of thought and only secondarily a matter of language. A metaphor on this view is a mapping of conceptual structure from one conceptual domain to another, typically from the more concrete to the more abstract or subjective, and the mapping carries with it language, inference, imagery and emotion. So the Body Politics implies a mapping from the elements of a conceptual schema for the human body to the elements of a conceptual schema for a social group.” (pp.79-80)

“Slightly later than CMT, a cognitive narratology (CN) took shape, inspired by research on narrative-like structures (frames, scripts, schemata, story grammars) in human intelligence in fields such as psychology, sociology, linguistics and artificial intelligence (for reviews, see Herman, 2003, especially Herman’s introduction and chapter; and Herman, 2010). CN flowered into exceptionally rich and sophisticated models of narrative processing in Monika Fludernik’s (1996) Toward a “Natural” Narratology and David Herman’s (2002) Story Logic. It now addresses the full slate of narratological topics, including character, plot, narration, genre, rhetoric, style, emotion, and functions such as entertainment, persuasion, therapy, explanation and problem solving.
Unlike CMT, however, CN is an approach rather than a theory and is too diverse to have typical ways to approach its materials, such that we could say “CN says narrative is this; narrative uses these conceptual structures and does that with them; here’s an example.” I take from CN that narrative is a way of globally structuring (small or large chunks of) experience, concepts and discourse. Metaphors can structure parts of these things, but a text, experience or story can have overall narrative structure.” (p80)

“Schemas are organized structures of elements and relations representing typified knowledge of things, situations and events. They enable us to fill in the gaps of the information we encounter in order to construct coherent and logical mental representations of that to which the information refers. We use schemas to parse the noisy welter of experience and discourse (including narrative) into meaningful forms. Momentarily seeing a woman with a backpack staring at a chart on a train station wall, I can draw on my journey schema (and other schemas) to make plausible inferences about a larger context of action, her present point in her action trajectory, with its likely past and future actions, her mental and emotional state, and more.” (p.81)

“CMT argued that metaphors prompt us to map schemas from “source” to “target” concepts. An expresion such as “I’m on track for a promotion” maps our schema for train travel onto our schema for professional progress, such that the train is the professional, its destination is the promotion and the track is the sequence of actions that will result in the promotion. If we hear that a relationsip has “gone off the rails,” we map the train to people in a relationship, its movement along the track to progress, and its crash to relationship failure. For CMT these are instances of the more general conceptual metaphor Life is a Journey, which systematically maps the journey schema onto our knowledge of life, such that the person living their life is a traveler, purposes are destinations, means to achieve purposes are routes, difficulties are impediments, choices are crossroads, counselors are guids, and so on (Lakoff & Turner, pp.3-4).” (p.82)

“Image schemas in sentences and narratives commonly involve a force structure, and around the same time that image schemas appeared, Leonard Talmy (1988) developed a comparable notion of “force dynamics.” For my purposes, the key point is that image schemas typically have force-structure and that scenarios involve configurations of image schemas whose forces interact in changing patterns.” (p83)

“The 1990s saw increasing emphasis on studying how metaphors appear and function in actual language use, to test strong claims that metaphors are stable conceptual mappings that actively structure all thought and language (eg Cameron & Maslen, 2010; Goatly, 1997; Musolff & Zinken, 2009; Semino, 2008). Musolff’s (2006) notion of “metaphor scenarios” is an instance of this direction. Musolff analyzes how discourse about the European Union often elaborates metaphors of courtship, marriage and family-building into “Mini-narratives.”” (p.83)

Ref: (italics in original; emphases in blue bold mine) Michael Sinding (2015) Governing Spirits: Body Politics Scenarios and Schemas in the French REvolution Debate. pp. 78-102 Eds. Michael Hanne, Michael D Crano, and Jeffery Scott Mio Warring with Words: Narrative and Metaphor in Politics. Psychology Press: New York and London

Reference is to:

Herman, 2003 Narrative Theory and the cognitive sciences. CSLI Lecture Notes, 158. Stanford: CSLI

Herman, 2010 Narrative theory after the second cognitive revolution. In L Zunshine (Ed) Introduction to cognitive cultural studies (pp. 155-175). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press

Talmy, L (1988) Force dynamics in language and cognition. Cognitive Science 12(1), 49-100

Cameron & Maslen, 2010 (Eds) Metaphor analysis London: Equinox

Goatly, 1997 The Language of Metaphors. London: Routledge

Musolff (2006) Metaphor scenarios in public discourse. Metaphor & Symbol 21(1), 23-38

Musolff & Zinken, 2009 Metaphor and discourse. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan

Semino, 2008 Metaphor in discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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