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Gesture in Social Interaction


18-20 septembre 2024

Lang EN Workshop language is English

Prof. Marcel Burger, Université de Lausanne

Dre Anne-Sylvie Horlacher, Université de Neuchâtel

Prof. Simona Pekarek Doehler, Université de Neuchâtel


Les noms des intervenant·es seront communiqués ultérieurement.


When people talk, they move their hands and perform gestures. Manual gestures do not only contribute to meaning making in social interaction, they are sometimes understood as being language (McNeill 1992).

Over the past three decades, hand gestures have been receiving increased attention in language research, from various theoretical approaches across a diverse range of contexts (Mc Neill 1979, Heath 1986, Calbris & Porcher 1989, Goldin-Meadow 1999, Kendon 2004). Gestures have been classified on the basis of different taxonomies according to their form and function (McNeill 1992, Kendon 2004, Murphy 2003; but see Goodwin 2007 on environmentally coupled gestures). Those taxonomies include pointing gestures (Goodwin 1986, 2003, 2007), also referred to as deictic gestures, which are used to indicate specific locations in the environment; iconic gestures (McNeill 1985), sometimes called depicting (Kendon 2004) or depictive gestures (Jokipohja & Lilja 2022, Lilja & Piirainen-Marsh 2022), which represent objects or actions; beat gestures (McNeill 1992, Kendon 2004), which speakers use to emphasize or punctuate speech, etc. We also observe an impressive diversity in lexical choices used to describe gesture practices: grasping (Streeck 2009), gesticulating (Kendon 2004), manipulating (Horlacher 2022), stroking and tapping (Greco et al. 2019), handling and passing (namely to account for objects transfers in the workplace; see for e.g. Heath et al. 2017). Moreover, manual gestures are sometimes identified along with touching practices (see pioneering work by M. H. Goodwin 2013, Cekaite 2010, but also Nishizaka & Sunaga 2015 on massage; Mondada 2016, 2021 on palpating cheese in shop encounters).

Existing work on social interaction has documented the role of manual gestures in the coordination of turn transitions (Mondada 2007, Kendrick, Holler & Levinson 2023), to initiate repair (Oshima 2009, Jokipohja & Lilja 2022), to make negative assessments without verbalizing them with words (Olsher 2004, Skogmyr Marian 2021), to start an enumeration in political discourse (Calbris 2002), or when searching for a word (Goodwin & Goodwin 1986). The communicative import of gestures has also been highlighted in language development with children and during interactions with L2 speakers (Greer 2013, Eskildsen & Wagner 2013, Debras 2020, Skogmyr Marian & Pekarek Doehler 2022). In the absence of language, gestures can become a substitute, typically in aphasic conversation (Goodwin 2000, Auer & Bauer 2011), whereas lack of gestures is said to be specific to autism (Light et al. 1998; see however Maynard & Turowetz 2017). Manual gestures are concomitant in talk with specific actions. For example, pointing gestures are typically accompanying navigational instructions in driving lessons (De Stefani & Depperman 2020), whereas iconic gestures recurrently occur with revision requests at the hairdresser's, whereby the clients invite correction from the professionals, while providing an embodied representation of an expected outcome (Horlacher & Pekarek Doehler 2023). In this Doctoral School, we focus on manual gestures across a number of social situations, including everyday conversations, workplace interactions and media settings. We will ask how gestures interface with other semiotic resources, such as language and gaze (Sidnell 2006, Pekarek Doehler, Keevalik & Li 2022), how they are synchronized with the on-line emerging trajectories of turns-at-talk.

The Doctoral School comprises 3 types of talks: plenary lectures by renowned researchers in the field, a range of work-in-progress sessions presented by doctoral students, and "end- of-the-day roundtables". The seminar will be of interest to students and researchers concerned with the analysis of video-recorded face-to-face interaction across a variety of social contexts.





Délai d'inscription 01.09.2024
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