We are a team of faculty and student researchers absorbed by questions about meaning and its links with language, culture and cognition. Established in March 2017 for the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures, Ryerson University’s Meaning Lab is housed in the Faculty of Arts’ Graduate Research building at 111 Gerrard St. East. Directed by Jamin Pelkey and Stéphanie Walsh Matthews, lab outcomes to-date include three federal grants (SSHRC-CRSH, Mitacs), the organization of three international conferences in Semiotics (Semiofest 2017, IACS 2018, SemAnt 2022), facilitation of the Toronto Semiotic Circle lecture series, cognitive trials exploring mindfulness and multimodal language processing, human robot interaction programming design for research at the intersection of cognitive linguistics and autism spectrum disorder, multiple editing projects in semiotics, linguistics, anthropology and rhetoric culture, plus other research activities and publications. Current lab members include two faculty researchers, one postdoctoral researcher, two PhD researchers, two MA researchers, two BA researcher and 25 research alumni.
The Chinese character “意” (yì)* evokes our cross-modal, meaning-centric approach to language as a dynamic pattern-system of blended signs-about-signs useful for modeling possible worlds (for better or for worse). What is this shared ability and how does it express meaning across an array of semiotic resources, including speech and writing? What, for example, does “意” mean? “意” means ‘meaning’; but meaning”
WHO AND HOW TO BE
Chen Rong’s painting of ‘Nine Dragons’* evokes for us the oppositions, vagaries, habits, and wonders of comparative culture. Who is in and who is out? What is fitting and what “don’t fit”? As human beings, we are always learning and unlearning to navigate intercultural relations: the ever unfolding levels and intersections of socially constructed realities (and ideologies) all around us and all around the world.
MOVING, BLENDING, REMEMBERING
The echeveria succulent* evokes our embodied, process-oriented approach to human cognition as something grounded and growing, cooperating and resilient, patterned and replicating. How do things mean what they mean? What are consciousness, learning, knowing, experiencing and remembering? How does human understanding relate to (and diverge from) the cognition of animals and plants? Good questions. *(wiki, p.c.)