Keeping Track of Time: the role of embodied-cognition and spatial reasoning in the understanding of complex narrative time structures

Activity: Talk or presentationAcademic

Steven Willemsen - Speaker

Miklós Kiss - Speaker

Are our bodies involved in the engagement with complex story structures? Could the idea of a ‘disorienting’ story be more than a metaphor? Drawing on embodied-cognitive narratology, Conceptual Metaphor Theory, and Mental Timeline theory, this talk argues that [1] embodied-cognitive mapping operations of a spatial nature fulfil a central role in the comprehension of narrative time. We aim to show how [2] this is particularly evident in complex narratives, which often play with ‘impossible’ non-experienceable plot structures such as time-travel, timeloops, or multi-layered plotlines. The presentation investigates how such complex forms of narrative temporality depend on blending of concrete embodiedcognitive schemas into a ‘mental timeline’ (e.g. visualizing a container schema to understand multiple embedded plotlines as existing ‘inside’ each other; or mentally representing time travel as movement along a spatial source-path-goal schema, shifting ‘forward’ or ‘backward’ in time relative to a deictic center), which allows such abstract narrative temporalities to be both conceivable and comprehensible.

Event (Conference)

TitleSCSMI annual conference of the Society of the Cognitive Study of the Moving Image
Web address (URL)
LocationUniversity of Hamburg
Degree of recognitionInternational event

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ID: 94394979