International Conference: English Language and Literature Studies

From 23 to 24 October 2015 the Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade organizes the 5th International Conference of the English Department: ‘English Language and Literature Studies: Tradition and Transformation’.

The aim of the ELLSTAT conference is to promote exchange of ideas across different areas and theoretical frameworks of English linguistics and anglophone literary/cultural studies throughout a broad academic community.

The list of plenary speakers will include:

– Elizabeth Archibald (Professor of English Studies, Durham University, UK)
– Istvan Kecskes (Professor of Linguistics and Communication, State University of New York, Albany, USA)
– Gerard Steen (Professor of Language and Communication, University of Amsterdam, NL)

For more information, see the call for papers.

Marianna Bolognesi starts her Marie Curie COGVIM project

The Marie Curie funded COGVIM project has just kicked off, led by dr. Marianna Bolognesi, and supervised by prof. Gerard Steen.

The aim of the project is to compare structure and functioning of the visual and the verbal modalities of expressions of metaphor, so to ground visual metaphors in the conceptual system.

This will be achieved through an interdisciplinary method that brings together psychological data elicited from participants, as well as large scale semi-automated analysis of words across a corpus of language and a corpus of annotated images.

Read more about the project or join the research meeting on Tuesday 17 March to hear more about visual metaphors and the COGVIM project (


BA course: cancer in public discourse

In 1978 Susan Sontag’s Illness as a metaphor was published. The claim she made was that metaphors and visual images are harmful for the patient. Some commentators, in reflecting on her arguments, wondered whether these cultural artefacts were in fact categories that play a role of their own in moral contemplation. Moreover, people discussed in what way these images and metaphors functioned as instruments, and, if so, whether they could (or should) be replaced by better instruments. This BA course ‘Illness, image, metaphor: cancer in public discourse’ focuses on the research of these artefacts and their effect in reality and starts 2 February 2015. Read more about the course here.

Christian Burgers on BNR Radio

Thursday 18 december 2014 Christian Burgers gave a talk on BNR Radio. Metaphors are frequently being used by text writers and spin doctors to frame their message. They however do not seem to have any effect.

You can find the radio fragment here.

When Do Natural Language Metaphors Influence Reasoning?

Steen, Reijnierse and Burgers offer a critical view of an earlier study of Thibodeau and Boroditsky (2013) on how metaphorical framing influences reasoning.

In this paper, Steen, Reijnierse and Burgers have reported four studies that comprise a follow-up study to Thibodeau and Boroditsky who report an effect of metaphorical framing on readers’ preference for political measures after exposure to a short text on the increase of crime in a fictitious town: when crime was metaphorically presented as a beast, readers became more enforcement-oriented than when crime was metaphorically framed as a virus. In contrast to the original studies, Steen, Reijnierse and Burgers consistently found no effects of metaphorical frames on policy preference. Therefore, the experiments provide converging evidence raising questions about when metaphors do and do not influence reasoning.

Metaphor studies in retrospect and prospect

Joanna Gavins (University of Sheffield, UK) has interviewed Gerard Steen about Metaphor studies.
You can read the article ‘Metaphor studies in retrospect and prospect: An interview with Gerard Steen’ here.

15 questions for Gerard Steen

In the interview on ’15 questions about metaphor research for Gerard Steen’ Gerard Steen explains what his favorite metaphors are, why he is into metaphor research, he talks about current metaphor research and his views on the future.
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