Metaphor and the design critique

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2009
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. Access is restricted indefinitely. ----- This study grew out of my experience as a language and academic literacy advisor in Schools of Design Architecture and Building at an Australian university. I became aware that the teaching staff regularly used highly metaphorised language when talking to students about their designs, and that metaphor was commonly used to stimulate creativity as part of the studio work. Furthermore, I found that in the literature on Design, theorists frequently call upon metaphor in their attempts to define Design. Many of the non-native speaker students reported that they were perplexed by these expressions and very often misunderstood them, or did not understand them at all. Whilst some of the literature on Design pedagogy reports on teaching through metaphor, very little research is available that takes a linguistic perspective. This research provides an examination of metaphor as a connection between language and thought in the context of the end-of-project critique in the disciplines of Visual Communication and Architecture and explores this as a means for the enculturation of students into those disciplines. The research is informed by theories from three areas: cognitive semantics, social theories of language with a focus on discourse, and Design studies and practice. It involves complementary analyses of metaphor and genre (following Swales, 1990). The study contributes to an understanding of how the genre of the critique within the academic disciplines of Visual Communication and Architecture functions to induct students into the values of the discipline, and points to some differences between the two disciplines. It identifies the critical role of systematic metaphor in the discourse and shows how this use of metaphor contributes significantly to constructing an underlying coherence across topics, to the construction of knowledge and to the transmission of the shared values of the culture of the disciplines. A final aspect of the study involved an examination of the relationship between some theoretical approaches to Design that attempt to define the process and role of Design by way of an analogy and the discourse of the Design Educators in the crit context. It was found that the discourse of the crits does show that such analogical approaches are part of the cultural knowledge that the speakers draw upon. The findings of this thesis have implications for the teachers of Design in that they can be used in passing on to students the knowledge that this field has its own cultural values embedded within the language it uses. The findings will be particularly usefully for teachers of non-native speakers of English, to help bridge gaps in understanding communicative intent.
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