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Metaphor, Genre and Style: Decoration, Explanation or Persuasion?


Admission requirements

A relevant BA degree.


“The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor.” Aristotle, Poetics 22 (Bywater 1940: 62).

Ever since Aristotle wrote this bold claim, the nature of metaphor has been the topic of much scientific debate between philosophers, literary scholars, linguists, psychologists, rhetoricians, stylisticians, educators and others. Is metaphor a matter of language or thought? How can we reliably identify metaphors in language use? How do we know whether a writer actually intended something to be metaphorical, or whether a reader understood it as such? Why do people use metaphors and do different genres prefer different types of metaphor? And most of all, do we need them?

This course offers an introduction to the study of metaphor in language, thought and communication. It takes its main inspiration from the cognitive-linguistic approach to metaphor as a cross-domain mapping in thought, which manifests itself in different linguistic forms in language to perform a range of different functions in communication. The course will also consider other approaches to metaphor, such as those of psychology and psycholinguistics, critical discourse analysis, applied linguistics, and stylistics. Students will be trained in identifying, describing and explaining different types of metaphor in authentic texts from different genres (novels, lectures, news texts, etc.) and with different communicative functions (decoration, explanation, persuasion, etc.).

Course objectives

  • To learn to read and interpret literature on metaphor from various disciplines.

  • To understand the most relevant aspects of metaphor theory.

  • To learn to present and discuss metaphor research and write critically on this research.

  • To acquire skills in identifying and analyzing metaphors in authentic discourse.


The timetable will be available by June 1st on the website.

Mode of instruction

Seminar and self-study.

Course Load

  • Time spent on attending seminars: 26 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 36 hours

  • Time to prepare for seminars (including the presentation) and write the course paper (including reading / research): 218 hours

Assessment Method

  • Class participation (including a presentation) 40%

  • Course paper 60 %

Resit: students who fail the course may resit the course paper.


This course is supported by Blackboard.

Reading list

Journal articles and book chapters will be provided via Blackboard.


Students should register through uSis. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272144 or mail

When registering, students that are registered for the specialisation that this course belongs to, or the Research Master, take priority. The deadline for registration is August 15. All other students should contact the coordinator of studies

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration via Studeren à la carte
Registration via Contractonderwijs


MA Linguistics departmental office, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144;