2012-13 Lecture Series: Language, Cognition and Sociality
Distributed Cultural-Historical Dynamics and the Development of Semiotic Agility
Portland State University and the University of Groningen
Comments from Heather Willis Allen, Department of French and Italian
4:00 pm, Thursday, March 7, 2013
254 Van Hise Hall, 1220 Linden Drive
Within a variety of language-related disciplines, there is growing commitment to more holistic and ecologically oriented frameworks that recognize cognition and communication as coordinated, embodied, relational, distributed, and arrayed across mutable patterns of activity that emerge at different time scales. To date, however, such efforts have been primarily oriented toward theoretical and/or research contexts. Applying principles expressed in cultural-historical and ecological approaches to development (Bateson, 1972; Engeström & Sannino, 2010; van Lier, 2004), extended and embodied cognition (Atkinson, 2010; Clark, 2008), and recent scholarship produced by distributed language theorists (e.g., Raczaszek-Leonardi & Cowley, 2012; Fusaroli & Tylén, 2012; Thibault, 2011), this talk presents a design approach to language learning that is rooted in ecological understandings of cognition, language, and environment. A number of diverse projects and cases will be described: The first involves the use of corpus-based resources to support the development of intercultural discourse competence. The second project outlines the intertextual dynamics of event-driven communication, as well as engagement with attendant discourses, that comprise the semiotic ecology of massively multiplayer online gaming environments. A third case study reports on an experimental and currently in progress plurilingual augmented reality game project, the primary objective of which is to semiotically remediate (e.g., Prior, 2010) local places and embed language learning resources in phenomenologically rich and embodied experience in the world. These diverse empirical contexts reveal the complexities of languaging activity at the intersection of time, place, and space, and also suggest that the superordinate goals of language education are to catalyze anticipatory dispositions, build recipient-aware interactional capacities, and more broadly, to cultivate semiotic agility.
This lecture is free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Language Institute, with funding from the Anonymous Fund. For more information or accommodations, contact: Kazeem Sanuth, (608) 262-4077.