Conceptual Blending, Narrative Discourse, and Rhetoric

Todd Oakley

Case Western Reserve University - Department of Cognitive Science


Cognitive Linguistics Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 231-360, 1998

This study addresses the concerns of the linguist interested in understanding complex referential relationships that develop over extended stretches of discourse, the interests of the rhetorician interested in understanding how human beings use language for purposes of establishing and maintaining individual and group identity, and the concerns of the literary critic interested in understanding the role narrative structure place and guiding readers through complex textual artifacts. I address these concerns I can talk being a three-part analysis of a passage from Art Spiegelman's Maus II: A Survivor's Tale using Fauconnier's and Turner's Conceptual Blending model. As an extension of Fauconnrier's (1994) Mental Spaces Grammar, conceptual blending is a general cognitive instrument capable of performing a variety of discourse functions - from event integration, conceptual change, and metaphor project to humor, literary invention, and the transfer of emotions and attitudes. Discourse participants construct mental spaces for the purpose of local understanding and action. One kind of mental space is a blended space, which develops rich conceptual structure of its own from two or more input spaces and a generic space. My aim is to show that conceptual blending provides a plausible account of how readers construct meaning in narrative discourse.

Keywords: Conceptual Blending Theory, Mental Spaces, Rhetoric, Narration, Discourse, Art Spiegelman, Comic Books, Identity

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Date posted: August 24, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Oakley, Todd, Conceptual Blending, Narrative Discourse, and Rhetoric (1998). Cognitive Linguistics Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 231-360, 1998 . Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1460790

Contact Information

Todd Oakley (Contact Author)
Case Western Reserve University - Department of Cognitive Science ( email )
10900 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44106-7068
United States
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