23rd DiscourseNet Conference : Discourse, Power and Mind: Between Reason and Emotion

Country: Italy

City: Bergamo

Abstr. due: 15.10.2018

Dates: 06.06.19 — 08.06.19

Area Of Sciences: Humanities;

Organizing comittee e-mail: discoursenetbergamo AT gmail.com

Organizers: DiscourseNet Bergamo University


The relationship between discourse and power implies an interaction between the subjects and their selves. Power positions are often held by influencing the judgment of other people, which requires dealing with their minds. One of the factors to be taken into account when targeting one’s self is the complexity of this entity. The self is not only the set of mental schemes and operations that enable an individual to make sense of the world. It is also structured by the living experience of the outer world. This experience of the world is made possible by the physical propioception of our own body which becomes, in turn, a tool for understanding the outer world through sensations. However, reasoning and sensations aren’t the only two ways of knowing and learning. Emotions also play their part in making sense of the world. They connect or distance our body and mind from a given reality according to the positiveness or negativeness a given experience arises in our conscience. Reasoning, emotions and experiences are all actors of a power relationship: they are part of our judgmental abilities, which means they can play a significant role in power handling and in positioning practice in a power relationship. From a discourse and linguistic point of view, this interaction between mind and power can be analysed through discursive and textual production. 

Some topics that may be addressed are: 

argumentation (up to manipulation) 
linguistic construction of emotions and feelings 
sentiment analysis 
linguistic construction of empathy 

They all apply to reasoning as well as to emotional and affective dimensions of the self: for instance, storytelling combines some logical skills (the conception of a story as a whole, the cause-effect relationship that grounds the transforming process within a story) with some emotions and feelings due to some form of empathy with one character rather than some negative feelings arisen by characters we despise. In the same way, argumentation, and its extreme form, manipulation, can be based on reasoning as well as pathos and persuasion. These two examples show how reasoning and emotions, rational and irrational, are combined in the process of understanding or making a specific reality understandable. Without being ascribed to these two specific textual and linguistic constructions, feelings are likely to be present and influence several kinds of discourse, as demonstrated by the sentiment analysis field of research. Moreover, empathy can also be taken into account as a way to analyse the relationship between discourse and power under a linguistic and cognitive perspective. By adopting an empathic attitude, the speakers are able to embrace the perspective of their addressees, i.e. to look at a given situation through the perceptions and/or feelings of another person. The mental operation consists in a displacement (Rabatel, 2017) from the very discursive position of the speakers to a fictive discursive position where the speakers perceive, feel and make sense of a given situation “as if” they were another person (Pinotti, 2011). As a consequence, discursive and linguistics marks of this mental operation may be found in their verbal productions. 

The different roles and interactions between reasoning, feelings and emotions we described so far can be applied, to different degrees and in different ways, to several fields of discourse where power may be taken into account, such as: 

Political discourse 
Medical discourse 
Corporate discourse 
Charity discourse 
Media discourse 
Pedagogical discourse and practices 
Academic discourse 
Legal discourse 
Everyday and/or interpersonal interactions

Call for Papers: 

We welcome all proposals for papers addressing the relationship between power and mind, focusing on specific cognitive aspects (such as the verbal expression of reasoning or emotions) and/or linguistic aspects (lexical and syntactic choices, pragmatic features of communication), possibly showing new and original interactions between them. Topics and fields listed above are not exclusive. 

Given the variety of topics and fields addressed, we also welcome proposals constructing and exploring corpora on multiple levels and through different tools and methodological approaches. For these reasons, statistical, quantitative and qualitative analysis are all welcome, as well as manual and/or computer-assisted analysis carried out in the field of Digital Humanities. We are particularly interested in contributions investigating and combining these methods and approaches in order to discuss not only questions about discourse and power but also the ways to build and analyse corpora on this subject. 


Proposals can be submitted in different languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian). Participants are free to choose the language they prefer for their oral communication. In order to guarantee a better comprehension for all the participants, slides should be prepared in English. The abstracts should not be longer than 250 words. Each proposal will be subject to a blind review by the members of the scientific committee. 

Conference Web-Site: https://linguistlist.org/issues/29/29-3092.html