The look of writing in reading. Graphetic empathy in making and perceiving graphic traces

Language Sciences 84 (2021)
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This article presents preliminary considerations and results from a research project designed to investigate the relation between gestures, graphic traces and perceptions. More specifically, the project aims to test the hypothesis that graphic traces, including handwriting, can set up graphetic empathy between writers and readers of traces across long temporal and spatial distances. Insofar as a graphic trace is lawfully related to the gesture by which it came into being, the trace itself will hold information about the gesture, which may resonate with the sensorimotor system of a perceiver, as if they themselves performed the gesture. If this is in fact so, it will have important and hitherto unanticipated implications for our understanding of the embodiment of reading. As part of the article we will present and discuss the results of a neurophenomenological trial study through which we attempt to operationalize the gesture-trace and trace–perception relations respectively.



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Susan Stuart
University of Glasgow

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