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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2006

E 376L • Metaphor

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35531 TTh
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
PAR 101

Course Description

Here are some of the questions we will be addressing: Is it possible to state the literal meaning of a word or phrase? Is it always possible to draw a clear distinction between literal and non-literal expressions? What are metaphors? What are metaphors for? How can we distinguish between literal language and metaphorical language? Is it the case that, while poetical language may be metaphorical, ordinary everyday language is largely non-metaphorical? Does metaphor play any role in child language acquisition? Does metaphor play any role in the elaboration of scientific ideas?

In addressing these questions, we will examine several different theories of metaphor, including those proposed by the philosopher John Searle and the linguist George Lakoff. We will not seek to provide definitive answers to the questions posed, but we will open up the fascinating range of issues which are raised when one comes to reflect on the nature of metaphor. These issues lie at the interface of literary study, linguistics, philosophy and psychology. Among those issues are the distinction often made between knowledge of language and use of language; and aspects of the relationship between language and thought.

Grading Policy

Students are required to submit a 3,000-word essay chosen from a range of topics issued towards the end of the course. This counts for 85% of the overall assessment. The other 15% will be based on in-class tests.


There is no set textbook for this course, but copies of the following papers will be made available to students:

Black, M., (1977), 'More about metaphor'
Boyd, R., (1992),' Metaphor and theory change: What is *metaphor* a metaphor for?'
Kuhn, T., (1979), 'Metaphor in science'
Lakoff, G., (1992), 'The contemporary theory of metaphor'
Rumelhart, D., (1979), 'Some problems with the notion of literal meanings'
Searle, J., (1979), 'Metaphor'


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