Discussion group: The Ethics of Metaphor – Wednesday 11 March

Humanities Seminar Room One (Stevens Building, Kensington), 16.00-18.00

Preceding the research biennial, this discussion group seeks to interrogate some of the key questions in the complex and exciting area of ethics and aesthetics and how they impact upon our practice as researchers. The group is aimed at RCA researchers and seeks to open up the discussion as to how ethical considerations might feed into or impact upon our research practice.

Is there an ethics inherent in the use of metaphor? Are there fundamental metaphoric systems beyond culture? Do certain phenomena present themselves as ‘readymade’ metaphors, and should these be resisted?

This session will explore questions of ethics, metaphor, aesthetics and artistic research using Lakoff & Johnson’s foundational outline of cognitive linguistics, ‘Metaphors We Live By’ (1980) in concert with ideas from Clive Cazeaux’s text ‘The Ethical Dimension of Aesthetic Research’ (2003) and Stuart Jeffries‘ article on current political metaphors on immigration.

We’re delighted that Professor Clive Cazeaux is able to join us for the discussion.


George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, ‘Metaphors We Live By’, Language, Thought and Culture, 1980

Clive Cazeaux, ‘The Ethical Dimension of Aesthetic Research‘, Research Issues in Art, Design and Media, Issue 5, Autumn 2003

Stuart Jeffries, ‘“Swamped” and “riddled”: the toxic words that wreck public discourse’, Guardian, 27 October 2014

Additional discussion of the immigration / contamination metaphor

J. D. Cisneros, ‘Contaminated communities: The metaphor of “immigrant as pollutant” in media representations of immigration’, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, 11.4, 2008

Howard Markel and Alexandra Minna Stern, ‘The Foreignness of Germs: The Persistent Association of Immigrants and Disease in American Society’, Millbank Quarterly, 2002

A complementary film screening will take place in the Gorvy Lecture Theatre (Dyson Building, Battersea):

Rashomon (1950) by Akira Kurosawa Thursday 5 March, 15.45-17.20

Convened by Peter Le Couteur