Master Classes

Master classes are special lectures on a given subject, by an expertthree hours long.​
The sessions  take place on the same day, at the same time.
Participants are invited to choose one of the following master classes, (A) or (B).
There are limited number of admissions in each one, by order of enrollment.




ANA MARGARIDA ABRANTES (Universidade Católica Portuguesa)

Meaning Matters: Cognitive Semiotics and Sense-Making in the Age of Neuroscience

What is meaning? What are its conditions? If meaning emerges in the mind, is it a neurobiological phenomenon? Can a scientific approach address the problem of meaning and its dimensions of imagination, expression and communication? How can neuroscience contribute to the science of meaning, also known as semiotics? If meaning emerges in the mind, hasn’t semiotics been cognitive all along?

This masterclass addresses the problem of meaning and related concepts of representation, sign, intentionality and interpretation from the perspective of cognitive semiotics. We present concepts and descriptive models of the human mind, as they have been proposed by cognitive science and informed by research on the human brain (4e cognition, force-dynamics, blending, conceptual metaphor) and explore their contribution to the study of sense-making, comparing a biological approach with an approach to meaning based on language and discourse.

We focus on criticism to a cognitive approach in the study of meaning, such as the danger of reducing the meaning of shared cultural practices to the individual neurobiological conditions that enable them, and attempt a cognitive semiotic informed analysis of selected examples from three domains: text, performance and street art.



Portrait Nünning02.jpg

VERA NÜNNING (Heidelberg University)

The ‘Neurohumanities’ and the Study of Reading: A Perspective from Cognitive Literary Studies

In the first part of this class I will introduce you to some important premises of the study of reading with the methods of the neurosciences: I will demonstrate the complexity of the reading brain, explain the importance of two hypotheses (those of neuronal re-cycling and symbol grounding) and present two neurocognitive models of reading. After drawing your attention to some of the problems of limitations of the study of reading with the help of the ‘neurohumanities’, I will explore two promises of the neurocognitive study of reading, which can alert us to the dangers of losing the ability of deep reading and highlight the cognitive advantages we can gain by reading fiction. Though the cooperation between the neurosciences and the humanities is just beginning, I will end the lecture by drawing a few conclusions and indicate fields of research for the study of reading in the twenty-first century.

If you want to prepare for this class, you can (but do not have to) read one of the articles you can access when you have registered. A more extensive bibliography will be handed out in class.