Todd V. Oakley
Conceptual Blending, Narrative Discourse, and Rhetoric
Cognitive Linguistics 9. 4 (1998): 320-360

This study addresses the concerns of the linguist interested in understanding complex referential relationships that develop over extended stretches of discourse, the concerns 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 plays in guiding readers through complex texts. I address these concerns by conducting a three-part analysis of a passage from Art Spiegelman's Maus II, A Survivor's Tale using Fauconnier and Turner's Conceptual Blending model. As an extension of Fauconnier's (1994) mental space grammar, conceptual blending is a general cognitive instrument capable of accounting for a variety of discourse functions -- from event integration, conceptual change, and metaphor projection 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.





Maintained by Francis F. Steen, Communication Studies, University of California Los Angeles