Wim Pouw – Movements of significance

  • 02/03/2023

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Date: Thursday 02/03/2023, 3:30 pm (GMT+1/Warsaw time)

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Join live: s. 3099, Wydział Geologii UW, ul. Żwirki i Wigury 93


Title: Movements of significance


Manual gestures are communicative bodily postures in motion which signify in coordination with speech. Gestures have primarily gathered attention from cognitive psychologists, linguists, and anthropologists, who are united under the umbrella of ‘gesture studies’. Gestures studies tend to look through gesture, inferring their significance through meticulous interpretation, where whole worlds have been envisaged about what significance lies behind the movements: e.g., Gestures are held to reflect an inner world of sensorimotor simulations; Gestures are schematizations of thought; Gestures are primordial symbols. Such views have emancipated gestures, as unique windows into the human mind. We are, it turns out, not merely moving about.

In this talk I will however stop for a moment to peer through gesture, and appreciate gesture qua movement. What do we see? We see that there is pulse-quality of gesture producing forces through acceleration, thereby physically and functionally perturbing speech processes; grounding gesture’s phylogeny, ontogeny, and cognition, in physiology. I also discuss recent research with Siamang apes (Symphalangus Syndactylus) which will support the argument that there is cross-species continuity in how bodies are physically used for expression. I conclude therefore that expressive bodies are, it turns out, just moving about, but in more significant ways than previously thought.

Before the meeting, please read:

Pouw, W. & Fuchs, S. (2022). Origins of vocal-entangled gesture. [ScienceDirect]

This talk is a part of the Traincrease Lecture Series (D4.2).

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 952324.