October 25, 2011

Humanities Day 2011: Metaphor and Ambiguity: Two for the Price of One

Professor Ted Cohen discussed the relationship between metaphor and ambiguity, emphasizing the capacity of each to breach rules of language.

The presentation, “Metaphor and Ambiguity: Two for the Price of One,” drew on examples from a wide spectrum of literature and music, including Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and “Song of Songs,” a book in the Hebrew Bible.

“Metaphors invariably break rules,” Cohen said. “One good thing about metaphors…[is that] they are each small scale works of art.”

“[His examples] were particularly interesting. I’ve gained a new perspective and a greater openness to literature in general,” first-year Janne Chaffour said.

“This made me want to look at some of his research, as I’m really interested in the subject matter,” Booth alumna Julia Blain said. “This will definitely make me more conscious of how I speak, as well.”

Cohen does research in the philosophies of language and art, and specializes in the latter.