The role of linguistic style in the construction of shared meanings can be usefully explored through the analysis of the many media discourses today that represent, construct and ‘sell’ lifestyle concepts. Kress & Van Leeuwen (2001) have noted how, from a social semiotic point of view, lifestyle has become ‘the culturally dominating paradigm in the public domain’. In the marketing context, lifestyle is now seen as having largely replaced the traditional demographic segmentation based on class, age and gender (Vyncke, 2002). Lifestyle discourses have thus come increasingly to define how people see themselves and the social networks to which they belong.
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This volume of articles comprises papers from the 25th annual conference of the Poetics and Linguistics Association (PALA), which was held at the University of Huddersfield, England, in July 2005. The theme of the conference was ‘Stylistics and Social Cognition’, and as usual at a PALA conference, this theme was interpreted very widely by the participants, as the reader of this book will no doubt conclude.
At the heart of this volume, there is something of a reaction against the cognitive developments in stylistics, which might be seen as being in danger of privileging the individual interpretation of literature over something more social. The concern is to consider whether there is a more collective approach that could be taken to the meaning of text, and whether recent insights from cognitive stylistics could work with this idea of collectivity to define something we might call ‘commonality’ of meaning in texts.
Stylistics and Social Cognition will be of interest to those working in stylistics and other text-analytic fields such as critical discourse analysis and those concerned with notions of interpretation, collective meaning and human communication.