While vision and language are typically thought of as separate processes, they are more closely tied together than one might expect, as one can see through conceptual metaphor and non-verbal communication. Conceptual metaphors are used to relate abstract concepts to concrete perceptual and embodied experiences, especially visual and spatial experience. Oftentimes, different metaphors can be used to address the same abstract issue, with different implications.
Politicians are adept at use of metaphor, framing, and non-verbal communication such as gestures. They use these to encourage certain systems of thought and motivate people to action (and voting). In this assignment, you will be investigating how metaphor and non-verbal communication is used by politicians (intentionally or unintentionally). First, visit the following website, and read up on some common political conceptual metaphors:
On this site, you will find many examples of conceptual metaphors used in the political arena (arena…hey, that’s a metaphor). Make sure to read through a variety of the blog posts to get a lot of different ideas of political metaphors. After brushing up on some common visual and spatial embodied metaphors used, pick a current political figure (democrat, republican, or whatever you wish), and watch a short (~10-15 minutes) speech – rallies and debates are a good source, you can find many on YouTube. Next, find a politician with different political viewpoints, and pick a comparable clip of them speaking.
For your paper, you’ll need to discuss how conceptual metaphor, gesture, framing, and grammar are being used to conceptualize the political issues they are speaking about.
1. Outline the conceptualization hypothesis and how it relates to CMT, gesture, framing, and embodied simulation. Use course readings and material discussed in class cited appropriately.
2. Conceptual Metaphors:
· Document some conceptual visual and spatial metaphors used by the politicians.
· When are these metaphors used, what are the politicians trying to convey, and are the metaphors useful or helpful?
· Do the two politicians you chose use different metaphors? What are some similarities and what are some differences?
· How do both politicians use metaphor to embody issues, inspire action, and frame debate?
· Document some gestures used by the politicians, utilizing terms and concepts discussed in class and in the readings.
· When are these gestures used, what are the politicians trying to convey, and are the gestures useful or helpful?
· Do the two politicians you chose use different gestures? What are some similarities and what are some differences?
· How do both politicians use gesture to embody issues, inspire action, and frame debate?
4. Now let’s get personal with the following activity:
· Imagine you are running for political office. Pick a couple issues that are particularly important to you, and discuss how you would use conceptual metaphor, gesture, and grammar to frame your ideas positively.
· Now pretend that you are running AGAINST your prior imagined self. How could you use conceptual metaphor, gesture, and grammar to frame your same ideas from the previous activity NEGATIVELY?
5. And lastly, wrap things up with the following reflection:
· After attending the last few lectures, doing your readings, and completing this assignment, discuss your current thoughts on how language can affect political conceptualization and thought.
· Discuss a time you recognize from your own life where you have changed your thoughts on an issue when it was framed in a different way.
· As a voting citizen (assume you are one), how can you best ensure that you are making the most well-informed, unbiased, and beneficial choice when it comes to who you will vote for in the future and what position you will take on various issues, given the dramatic effects of framing?
Your discussion will probably be somewhere around 6-8 pages or so double spaced (quality much more important than quantity). You should cite course papers, books, and course slides whenever necessary in APA format
(use this cite for a refresher: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/general_format.html)
and include a references page. It is always better to cite primary sources over my slides when choosing a citation. You are free to cite any additional material you wish, but only cite primary peer-reviewed sources as evidence (other sources can be used to discuss things like public perception).