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Speaking the critique in graphic design: The role of metaphor

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Whilst some of the literature on design pedagogy reports on teaching through metaphor, little research is available that takes a linguistic perspective with a unique focus on the critique. This article reports on one study that examined metaphor as a connection between language and thought in the context of the end-of-project critique in the discipline of graphic design. 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. Theory on metaphor from a cognitive perspective took into account the most recent applications of established metaphor research, involving complementary analyses of metaphor and generic intent. Investigation of the data was carried out on spoken texts, transcribed, of educators in graphic design. The analysis found what metaphors – from a cognitive perspective – are present in the educators’ discourse, realized through their instances. The results show the ways in which metaphors are instrumental to the knowledge being constructed in the discourse; and the ways in which the metaphors express values, functioning to construct a culture of shared concerns. The findings of this study 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 also be useful for teachers whose students are non-native speakers of English, to help bridge gaps in their understanding of communicative intent.
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Keywords: connections between language; thought and design; critique/crit; design education; discourse; graphic design; systematic metaphor/cognitive metaphor

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Technology Sydney

Publication date: 2012-04-03

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  • How can art, design and communication aid teaching? Do these teaching methods work better in certain fields of study? Focusing on arts and media-based subjects, and encompassing all areas of higher education, this journal reveals the potential value of new educational styles and creative teaching methods.

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