LINGUIS 187 | Writing as Framing

2022 Fall | T, TH 9:30 AM-11 AM | COURSE #32003 | UNITS: 3

Eve Sweetser & Schuyler Laparle

Writing, like any form of language use, is a cooperative cognitive effort, requiring and depending on the actions of both the writer and reader. Both sides are trying to do “mind-reading” — the writer builds a text to meet an imagined reader’s mind, while the reader is building a reconstruction of the writer’s intentions. From this perspective, knowing how to write effectively requires knowing how language works in the mind. Creativity in writing, then, is cognitive creativity — and also meta-cognitive creativity, since it involves predicting how the text will be perceived and interpreted by others.

Broadly speaking, this approach to writing foregrounds framing, that is how to reduce an infinitely rich experience or concept to a finite and communicative object. Even with careful consideration by the writer, a text never brings up exactly the same conceptual structure in the reader, as each reader uses unique cognitive structures in the process of interpretation.  But each decision of what to include and how to include it has a direct impact on the conceptualization triggered in the reader. 

In this course, we work with a wide range of text types, including popular media, academic writing, and poetry. We employ Frame Semantics and Cognitive Metaphor Theory in both analyzing and creating written texts. 

Although there are no specific prerequisites, students should be aware that this is not an introductory R&C class. Basic R&C skills will not be the focus.