AAU logo

Andreas Musolff PhD course 2018

Figurative language in public discourse: metaphor, irony and sarcasm

Course title: Figurative language in public discourse: metaphor, irony and sarcasm

Course leader: Professor Andreas Musolff, University of East Anglia, UK

Dates: 19th-20th March 2018

Place: Aalborg, Denmark

Location: Aalborg University main campus, Kroghstræde 3

Room: TBA

This PhD course focuses on the role of figurative language in political discourse, using both cognitive and discourse-analytical methodology. It consists of four main parts:

  1. Introduction into Cognitive, Pragmatic and Discourse-historical methods to studying figurative language, specifically metaphor, irony and sarcasm
  2. Empirical investigation of discourse data, using research corpora EUROMETA and BODYPOL
  3. Reflection of methodological and theoretical implications of cross-cultural studies of figurative language
  4. Cross-cultural understanding of metaphor, irony and sarcasm: participation in and experimental research on metaphor and irony/sarcasm interpretation

Topic area 1: Introduction to the analysis of Figurative Language

  • Questionnaire: NATION AS BODY
  • Defining metaphor: figure of speech and thought
  • Relationship: metaphor – irony – sarcasm

Topic area 2: Conceptual Metaphor Theory: applications and limitations

  • Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT): Lakoff/Johnson’s ‘revolution’
  • Intra- and Cross-cultural Variation, Discourse Metaphor
  • Analysis of figurative language in Political Discourse

Topic area 3: Analysis of metaphor in discourse

  • Emergence of Metaphor in Discourse
  • Metaphor scenarios
  • Metaphor and Genre

Topic area 4: Relationship: Metaphor – Irony – Sarcasm

  • Definitions: Irony-Sarcasm


Coursework will involve in-class oral presentations with handouts and/or powerpoints and a short written essay. The course workload will include analyses of empirical data of public discourse as well as their methodological and theoretical discussion.

Coursework will focus on theoretical, methodological and thematic issues and involves corpus-based sample analysis of data, e.g.:

  • from British EUROMETA corpus
  • from British BODYPOL corpus
  • from cross-cultural NATION-AS-BODY corpus

Material for corpus-analyses will be made available in class and in consultation.

The language of the course will be English.

A preliminary programme, a reading list and location information can be found online.

For more academic information, please contact Lise Schmidt Nielsen.


With full participation in the course, a student will gain 2 ECTS.


Please register online using our form. You will be contacted by the secretary to confirm your registration. Phd students not enrolled in a Danish University need to pay an administrative fee of 240 DKK.

The deadline for registration is 28th February 2018. Attendance will be limited to 20 students.