Banner Viadrina


Ongoing projects

01/2020 – 12/2022

Multimodal Stancetaking: Expressive Movement and Affective Stance. Political Debates in the German Bundestag and the Polish Sejm

DFG/NCN-funding within the German-Polish Funding Initiative Beethoven-Classic

The project aims at an innovative approach to the multimodality of stancetaking ('affective positioning'), which is theoretically and methodologically grounded in the concept of 'expressive movement' (in the sense of Helmuth Plessner's philosophical anthropology). The subject of empirical analysis are multimodal expressive movements. Conceived as dynamic gestural-linguistic-prosodic patterns, they enable a look at the affective positioning of speakers in the German Bundestag and the Polish Sejm.

The project emerged from a long-standing cooperation and brings together two experienced teams. While the Polish team is responsible for the analysis of prosodic parameters, the German team is responsible for the analysis of gestures accompanying speeches and the further development of a transdisciplinary concept of 'expressive movement'.

Head of project:

Prof. Dr. Cornelia Müller

Prof. Maciej Karpiński (UAM Poznań)

Funding amount:

201.850 Euro




Completed projects

International Research Project, initiated by Moscow State Linguistic University  (in cooperation with Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris und the European University Viadrina, Frankfurt, Oder, Université d'Evry-Val-d'Essonne and RWTH Aachen, funded by the Russian Science Foundation

Based on the grammatical expression of temporal contours this international project investigates linguistic world-views that have emerged in the form of Russian, French and German aspectual and Aktionsart systems. It pursues new venues both methodologically and theoretically in researching the performance of those systems in multimodal language usage (e.g. as they are expressed in speech and gestures). Hand movements may embody language-specific conceptualizations of events; in connection with speech they display ways in which speakers construe and highlight different qualities of events.

Keywords: Aspect, Aktionsart, Gesture and Language, Cross-linguistic Comparison


Prof. Dr. Alan Cienki, PhD Principal Investigator (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Moscow State Linguistic University)

Members of the Project:

Prof. Dr. Olga Iriskhanova, Main Investigator (Moscow State Linguistic University)

Prof. Dr. Aliyah Morgenstern, Main Investigator (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris)

Prof. Dr. Cornelia Müller, Main Investigator (Europa-Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder))

Dr. Dominique Boutet, Main Investigator (Université d'Evry-Val-d'Essonne)

Dr. Maria Tomskaia, Main Investigator, (Moscow State Linguistic University)

Prof. Dr. Nicole Richter, Additional Investigator (European University Viadrina)

Dr. Jelena Karpenko, Additional Investigator, (Moscow State Linguistic University)

Raymond Becker, MSc, Additional Investigator (RWTH Aachen University)

Valeriia Denisova, MA, Additional Investigator, (Moscow State Linguistic University)

Andrei Petrov, MA, Additional Investigator, (Moscow State Linguistic University)


Prof. Dr. Cornelia Müller (Research stay as Fellow at the Kolleg Research Group Cinepoetics - Poetologies of Audiovisual Images)

Conception, development and supervision of the first Cinepoetics anual topic "Metaphor and Film" (together with H. Kappelhoff and M. Wedel); in charge of the collaborative production of the transdisciplinary book "Cinematic Metaphor". (

Conception and directing of four international workshops within the framework of Cinepoetics, Institute for Advanced Film Studies:

1) Jan 7th-12th 2016: Metaphor and Film: Dynamics and Multimodality (with Lynne Cameron (Freie Universität Berlin), artist in residence, Alan Cienki (Vrije Unversiteit Amsterdam, Moscow State Linguistic University) as guest speaker)

2) Feb 18th-22th 2016: Metaphor and Film: Experience and Metonymy (with Lynne Cameron (Freie Universität Berlin), Raymond Gibbs (University of California, Santa Cruz), Irene Mittelberg (Human Technology Centre, RWTH Aachen) as guest speakers)

3) Mar 4th 2016: Cinepoetics Workshop Media Archives and Corpus Analysis (with Mark Turner (Case Western Reserve University, Ohio) as guest speaker)

4) Jun 8th-11th 2016: Metaphor in Film and Literature (with Charles Forceville (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Kathrin Fahlenbrach (Universität Hamburg), Warren Buckland (Oxford Brookes University, England), Oliver Lubrich (Universität Bern) as guest speakers)

Conception and direction of a lecture group

Cinepoetics Colloquium Metaphor with international guests (14 days long)


Result of this interdisciplinary linguistic and media studies work are the monography Cinematic Metaphor. Experience – Affectivity – Temporality (gemeinsam mit H. Kappelhoff) and the anthology Cinematic Metaphor in Perspective. Reflections on a Transdisciplinary Framework (edited by S. Greifenstein, D. Horst, T. Scherer, C. Schmitt, H. Kappelhoff, C. Müller), both published in 2018.

The Seed-Money Project aims at a multimodal analysis of threat images within the EU-critical discourse of right-wing populist parties in Germany and Poland.

Das Seed-Money Projekt zielte auf eine multimodale Analyse von Gefahrenbildern innerhalb des EU-kritischen Diskurses rechtspopulistischer Parteien in Deutschland und Polen. The starting point was the assumption that multimodal metaphors, personal pronouns and prosody are used in various forms of communication (political speeches, talk shows and interviews) to develop an affectively charged, multimodal image of the threat. The linguistic perspective on this topic was expanded by an interdisciplinary orientation in relation to political science aspects.


Prof. Dr. Nicole Richter


Janett Haid, M.A.; Dorothea Horst, M.A.; Benjamin Marienfeld, M.A.


The pilot project' object was the identification, annotation and description of recurrent gestures in Savosavo, a language of the Solomon Island Savo (

By linking and archiving new gesture annotations with existing morpho-syntactic annotations of the language that are part of the DoBes archive at the MPI in Nijmegen, the project aimed at a multimodal documentation of Savosavo as well as a first systematic description and documentation of a specific gesture type in a non-Indo-European language. The project thus laid the foundations for a description of recurrent gestures in Savosavo and, based on a detailed analysis of 1 or 2 recurrent gestures, the starting point for further gesture analyses and the identification of a possible repertoire of recurrent gestures in Savosavo. It thus contributed a dimension to the documentation of endangered language that had not been systematically included before and thus significantly extended the scope of linguistic descriptions of endangered languages.


Prof. Dr. Cornelia Müller

Dr. Jana Bressem

Dr. Claudia Wegener

The project linked a linguistic approach of reconstruction dynamic attention and affect orientation in everyday life communicato, as developed on the paradigm of multimodal metaphorics (Müller), with the film-analytical model of the analysis of expressive movements and sensory images (Kappelhoff). The aim has been to develop a study-based interdisciplinary theory of metaphorically structured expressive movements as well as an interdisciplinary methodology.

The hypothesis was that multimodally realised metaphors (Speaking and body movement) in everyday communication is accompanied by a dynamic realization and construction of cognitive and affective experience, which can be described as specific forms of expressive movements. In relation to the media staging of metaphors (space, image staging and sound composition), it was assumed that these organize a specific form of cinematic expressive movement, which has a central function in the dynamically structured affect orientation of the recipients.

Therefore, in the project, the correspondences between appearances and modes of functioning of this type of metaphorically organised expressive movement have been investigated. For that, studies have been conducted concerning everyday face-to-face communication as well as several formats of audiovisual media (news and sports coverage, TV series, German films, classic Hollywood cinema (Hitchcock, film noir)). The identification of the forms of multimodal metaphor and the analysis of their occurrence in the different formats also provided the context for the development of a methodology as well as the empirical basis for the formulation of a theory of multimodal metaphor as expressive movement.


Prof. Dr. Cornelia Müller

Prof. Dr. Hermann Kappelhoff


Linguistik: Dorothea Horst, M.A.; Franziska Boll, M.A.

Filmwissenschaft: Sarah Greifenstein, M.A.; Christina Schmitt, M.A.; Thomas Scherer, B.A.

The collaborative project investigates the role of body experience in the emergence of meaning and its 'translation' into language and body movement. The theoretical framework is provided by phenomenology, psychology, cognitive linguistic (metaphor theory) as well as embodiment studies. Object of the linguistic subproject "Bedeutungsemergenz in Sprache und Geste" (Emergence of meaning in language and gesture) are translation procedures of embodied experience into language and movement. Body life

Das Verbundprojekt untersucht die Rolle von Körpererfahrung für die Emergenz von Bedeutung und ihre 'Übersetzung' in Sprache und Körperbewegung. Den theoretischen Rahmen stellen Phänomenologie, Psychologie, Kognitive Linguistik (Metapherntheorie) sowie die Embodiment-Forschung. Gegenstand des linguistischen Teilprojekts „Bedeutungsemergenz in Sprache und Geste“ sind Übersetzungsverfahren verkörperter Erfahrung in Sprache und Bewegung. In the process of multimodal communication, body life can be described in a methodologically secure way as a dynamic form of cognitive conceptualization and affective visualization. Thus, for the first time, the project opens an empirical access to forms of 'body memory'.


Prof. Dr. Cornelia Müller (Subproject Linguistic)

Prof. Dr. med. Dr. phil. Thomas Fuchs (Subproject)

PD Dr. Sabine Koch (Subproject)


Subproject Linguistic: Dr. Silva Ladewig; Lena Hotze M.A.


The collaborative project investigated, whether and how alexithymia is expressed in language usage and speech-accompanying gestures.

On the basis of 30 probands with high respectively low alexithymia levels on the 'Composite Scale' it was investigated, whether "emotional blindness" is expressed only in the emotion vocabulary or also in the vocabulary of the 'Internal State Language'. Furthermore, it was tested whether the two groups of subjects differed in perspectivity, coherence, and vividness in emotion-related narratives. Finally, dialogic reference was analyzed in a semi-standardized interview (LEAS) (Prof. Dr. Gisela Klann-Delius, FU Berlin).

The linguistic subproject "Gestik der Alexithymie" (Gestures of Alexithymia) from Prof. Dr. Cornelia Müller address the question, cannot be considered only as a disorder of the ability to emotional content, but also as a disorder of the ability to embody affective experience in communication. It examined the movement quality and the anchoring of speech-accompanying gestures, the occurrence of 'posture-gesture mergers' (Laban, 'Movement Analysis'; Lamb, 'Movement Pattern Analysis') and compared forms and numbers of communicative hand movements (Müller: 'MGA, Methods of Gesture Analysis') in alexithymic and non-alexithymic subjects.


Prof. Dr. Cornelia Müller (TSubproject Gesture)

Prof. Dr. Gisela Klann-Delius (Subproject Language)


Subproject Gestures: Mary Copple, M.A.; Julius Hassemer, M.A.; Benjamin Marienfeld, B.A.; Nicole Stein, M.A.; Julia Klar, B.A.

Sponsored by the VolkswagenStiftung within the frame program "Schlüsselthemen der Geisteswissenschaften" (key topics of the Humanities)

We do not only talk with the mouth, but also with the hands. Gestures are a genuine part of speaking and language. The elaboration of the basics of a grammar of gestures was aimed at determining the techniques of gesture production as well as proto-linguistic forms of meaning constitution and the formation of simultaneous and linear structures in a spatial-visual and inherently dynamic modality. This potential of language (Müller 1998) enfolds under communicative pressure into a spatial-visual language, such as for example Sign Language of deaf people or of the Australian Aborigine women tabooed with silence. The object of the project is a linguistic documentation of the meaning constitution, the formation of forms and structures of speech-accompanying gestures and their their integrability into oral grammar concepts. Individual forms and structures were examined for their neurological foundation and possible evolutionary precursors in the communication of non-human primates. Theoretical and methodological reference points of the linguistic subprojects were approaches from cognitive linguistics, semiotics, grammar theory, interaction and conversation analysis. Beside linguistic and semiotic (Prof. Dr. Cornelia Müller, PD Dr. Ellen Fricke) neurology (Prof. Dr. med. Hedda Lausberg) and primatology (Dr. Katja Liebal) participated with interdisciplinary projects. ToGoG worked on the developement of a linguistic, strictly form-based method of gesture analysis (MGA), which - in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Irene Mittelberg - have been tested and lectured in several international workshops (see MGA Frankfurt (Oder) 2007, Amsterdam 2008, Aachen 2009).


Prof. Dr. Cornelia Müller

Prof. Dr. med. Hedda Lausberg

Prof. Dr. Katja Liebal

PD Dr. Ellen Fricke


Jana Bressem, M.A., Silva Ladewig, M.A.