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Diving into the Wreck: can people resist allegorical meaning?
University of California, Santa Cruz, Dept. of Psychology, Santa Cruz, CA, USA. (Cognitive Linguistcs)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4833-7270
2019 (English)In: Journal of Pragmatics, ISSN 0378-2166, E-ISSN 1879-1387, Vol. 141, p. 28-43Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Allegory refers to one type of narrative that can be interpreted to reveal an additional layer of pragmatic, metaphorical meaning beyond what appears on the surface. For example, the poem, "Diving into the Wreck," by Adrienne Rich, describes a scuba diver going down to explore a wrecked ship. Although the poem describes diverse, specific actions, it also invites an allegorical interpretation in which the investigation of a wrecked ship symbolically represents one person's look back at a past, failed, romantic relationship, among other possibilities. We investigated whether ordinary readers are capable of inferring allegorical messages when reading Rich's poem. Three studies prompted participants to read the poem in a literal way (as though the poem is about scuba diving), in a metaphorical way (as though the poem is about a failed relationship), or with no guidance or prompt (control condition). Participants were randomly placed in one of these three groups. After reading the poem, each participant wrote their interpretation of the poem. An analysis of participants' protocols revealed a strong tendency to interpret the poem allegorically, even whenthey were strongly pushed to think about it in purely literal terms. Interpreting allegory also involves embodied simulation processes in which readers engage in the actions mentioned in the language. These findings support the idea that people possess an "allegorical impulse" in which they routinely interpret many human actions and events as referring to broader, symbolic allegorical themes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2019. Vol. 141, p. 28-43
Keywords [en]
allegory, embodied simulation, metaphor, poetry
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-166536DOI: 10.1016/j.pragma.2018.12.014OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-166536DiVA, id: diva2:1379576
Available from: 2019-12-17 Created: 2019-12-17 Last updated: 2019-12-27Bibliographically approved

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Okonski, Lacey

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CiteExportLink to record
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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
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Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
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Output format
  • html
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  • asciidoc
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