Street Artivism on Athenian Walls: A cognitive semiotic analysis of metaphor and narrative in street art

Georgios Stampoulidis

Forskningsoutput: AvhandlingDoktorsavhandling (sammanläggning)

658 Nedladdningar (Pure)


The thesis is a collection of four papers on Greek street art (specifically situated in the city of Athens) with a focus on metaphors and narratives. The overall aim guiding this thesis is to explore how street art in times of crisis can represent sociopolitical issues and in what ways these messages can be conveyed. By using the perspective of cognitive semiotics to address this, a parallel aim is to contribute to developing concepts and methods in this relatively new discipline.

Paper 1 presents a set of qualitative and quantitative analyses of rhetorical figures such as metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, hyperbole, oxymoron and personification in street art. A novel and empirically tested data-driven procedure is introduced, one that is informed by cognitive linguistic and semiotic theory for the identification and interpretation of rhetorical figures in crisis-related street art in Athens. The analyses show that, although the methodological protocol can be applied reliably to street art, and can enable the analysts to distinguish metaphors from other rhetorical figures, this genre often requires multiple kinds of sociocultural, contextual and linguistic knowledge to be accommodated in the analysis of the images, in order to achieve a successful and intersubjective

Paper 2 contributes to the study of figurativity and polysemiotic communication. It discusses the complex phenomenon of metaphor synthetically, offering an approach that may help us to go beyond and overcome challenges among debated issues in metaphor research in cognitive linguistics and semiotics by using a coherent terminology, informed by cognitive semiotics. The data derived from the empirical analysis presented in Paper 1 are used as the basis for the theoretical implications of the analysis in Paper 2, and by extension for the validity of the step-wise procedure for identification and interpretation of rhetorical figures in street art.

Paper 3 explores street artists’ experiences (on the basis of 10 audio-recorded go-along interviews) by focusing on what motivated their art-making and the verbal metaphors they used in go-along interviews where they were asked about these motivations. Methodologically it emphasizes the need for a theoretical definition of metaphor that should be clearly linked to its operationalization in alignment with the specific data. The results of the study reveal that street artists use a range of highly and moderately innovative metaphors when talking about personal experiences and motivations in relation to their art-making, with respect to situated communication.

Paper 4 extends the scope of the thesis to the narrative potential of single static images, such as street artworks. With its qualitative approach, yet drawing on a sample corpus of street artworks, Paper 4 allows us to delve into narratological discussions probing the narrative potential of street art. The findings suggest that single static images can be able to narrate and be interpreted as narrations but only if the underlying story is known in advance.

In sum, the thesis contributes new knowledge to our understanding of street art and provides a systematic and empirically grounded account of its figurative and narrative interpretation, with a number of workable ideas offered to the study of cognitive semiotics.
Tilldelande institution
  • Språk- och litteraturcentrum
  • Zlatev, Jordan, handledare
  • Lenninger, Sara, Biträdande handledare
Tilldelningsdatum2021 maj 22
ISBN (tryckt)978-91-89213-49-4
ISBN (elektroniskt)978-91-89213-50-0
StatusPublished - 2021

Bibliografisk information

Defence details
Date: 2021-05-22
Time: 10:00
External reviewer
Name: Thomas Wiben Jensen
Title: Associate Professor
Affiliation: Department of Language and Communication, University of Southern Denmark

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Övrig annan humaniora


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