Gestures and the phenomenology of emotion in narrative

Semiotica 131 (1-2):79-112 (2000)
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Stories evoke emotions in their hearers. Do they evoke emotions in their tellers as well? Tellers can tell stories from the inside as if they were characters in the world of the tale or they can tell stories from the outside as if they were perceiving the taleworld from elsewhere. From the outside, the teller can represent the emotion a character feels; from the inside, the teller can express the emotion the character feels. In either instance, tellers can be moved by the story they tell. When they are, they can experience their emotions as a suffusion of sensation that springs forth in their bodies. The body’s experience of its sensation can appear in the gestures that accompany the telling. On the occasion presented here, the teller represents her emotion in metaphorical gestures that figure her body as the container of a fluid substance that threatens to overflow its boundaries. Her gestures disclose and elaborate this metaphoricity while at the same time disclosing and elaborating the sensations that motivate the metaphor.

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