Workshop: Metaphors in the Discourse of the National

Metaphors in the Discourse of the National

University of Oslo, ILOS

Metaphors in the Discourse of the National

This workshop is part of the project “Discourses of the Nation and the National,” which focuses on a comparative study of various aspects of the national across multiple discourses.

The workshop seeks to discuss the intersecting fields of metaphor research and research on “nations” and “the national,” and the levels at which metaphor is relevant to the study of these concepts. Many case studies concentrating on specific issues, such as EU integration, have demonstrated that metaphors play a role in constructing both national and supranational identities (see, e.g., Marks 2004, Hülsse 2006, Musolff 2000, etc.). However, a systematic understanding of the levels at which metaphors are relevant in the study of “the national” is still lacking. This workshop will address these levels by focusing on the following topics:

– Reference to the nation as a personified individual: its “banality” and possible implications.

– Metaphors in the making of nations; key metaphors that constitute nations and related concepts (e.g., BODY, PERSON, FAMILY, CONTAINER, etc.), and their role in public discourse.

– Metaphors in conceptualizing nations and talking about nations. Is the difference between metaphorical thinking and metaphorical text/talk important?

– The type and role of metaphors in scholarship concerned with nations and nationalism. Scholarship concerned with nations uses some “unavoidable” metaphors at the micro-level of expression, but it also deliberately uses some specific metaphors (e.g., to explain processes and their results, such as nations coming into being).

– The motives for metaphor / the limits of metaphor / the abuse of metaphor. For example, the role of metaphors in establishing and weakening emotional attachment and the sense of belonging to national communities (languages, symbols, etc.); the role of metaphors in instrumentalizing emotional attachment to national communities for specific policies.

– The interaction of metaphors with symbols, myths, cultural models, and stereotypes, and the role of that interaction in national discourses (e.g., value and memory discourse), and in discursive construction of distinct national identities. Is metaphor important in the construction of difference, and, if yes, how?

– To what extent do metaphors constitute nation-related concepts? What is metaphorical about nations, what is their “non-metaphorical dimension,” and how do these possible dimensions relate? How do metaphorical and non-metaphorical dimensions of discourses about nations and the national relate? 

We welcome different methodological approaches (e.g., explorations of metaphors in large collections of public discourse, metaphors in corpora, visual and multimodal metaphors, texts as metaphors / metaphors in texts, metaphors and reflections about metaphors in research literature on nations and nationalism, etc.) that will emphasize different aspects of metaphors in the study of nations and the national.

Confirmed keynote speakers

Andreas Musolff (University of East Anglia)

Michael Marks (Willamette University)


Thursday, September 8th

9:00–10:00 am Keynote Lecture 1


Andreas Musolff (University of East Anglia): The discursive construction of nation through metaphor


10:00–10:20 am Coffee Break


10:20–11:50 am


Felicity Rash (University of London): Metaphors of flowing liquid and plant cultivation in German colonialist discourse (1871–1914)

Agne Cepinskyte (Russia Institute, King’s College London): State- and nation-bonding through metaphors in political discourse: The German Heimat and the Russian Rodina

Ludmilla A’Beckett (University of the Free State, Republic of South Africa; Monash University, Australia): The metaphor “brothers” in Russian representation of self and others


11:50–12:00 pm break


12:00–1:00 pm


Daniel Weiss (University of Zürich): The Ukrainian nation: Stepmother, younger sister, or stillborn baby?

Aleksander Gomola (Jagiellonian University of Kraków): Metaphors of nation in the Catholic discourse in contemporary Poland


1:00–2:00 pm Lunch


2:00–3:30 pm


Višnja Čičin-Šain (University of Oslo): Metaphors and Language Purism. The negotiation of Croatian national identity

Stijn Vervaet (University of Oslo): “Let’s save the Serbian Language!” Normative linguistics, metaphors, and national identity construction in the newspaper Politika

Aleksandar Pavlović (University of Belgrade): Imagining “Old Serbia”: Kosovo as a metaphor in Serbian national discourse



3:30–3:50 pm Coffee break


3:50–4:50 pm


Vedran Catović (University of Michigan): Metaphoric bankruptcy in Top lista nadrealista: The curious fate of chauvinism in former Yugoslavia and contemporary European Union

Lesia Ponomarenko (Autonomous University of Barcelona): Sailing close to the wind: Translating sensitive metaphors for international news



7:00 pm – dinner



Friday, September 9th


9:00–10:00 am Keynote lecture 2


Michael P. Marks (Willamette University): The desire for shelter: Nation- and state-building and the metaphorical discourse of fragile and collapsed states


10:00–10:20 am Coffee Break


10:20–11:50 am


Benedikt Perak (University of Rijeka): The role of metaphor and metonymy in the construction social identities in Croatia. A corpus based study of the concept NATION in Croatian

Mateusz-Milan Stanojević (University of Zagreb): Metaphorical and non-metaphorical dimensions of talking about nacija ‘nation’ in Croatian

Ljiljana Šarić (University of Oslo): How to do things with metaphors: The “prison of nations” metaphor in South Slavic online sources


12:00–1:00 pm Lunch


1:00–2:30 pm


Nadežda Silaški and Tatjana Đurović (University of Belgrade): Barbed wire around Serbia: Migrant metaphors as a means of constructing national identity

Jovana Todorović (University of Oslo): The one and only: Metaphors and politics in the Norwegian ban on dual citizenship

Evgenia Massie (University of Aberdeen): Salmond’s use of metaphors in his discursive construction of Scottish national identity


2:30–2:50 pm COFFEE BREAK


2:50–3:50 pm


Silvia Grassi (University of Oslo): Guidelines on how to construct a nation: Metaphors in the Catalan series Gran Nord

Massimiliano Demata (University of Bari): “The state of our union is strong”.  Metaphors of the nation in the State of the Union addresses


Tags: Metaphors, Discourse, Nation
Published Feb. 11, 2016 11:46 AM - Last modified Sep. 7, 2016 9:13 PM