SIS Seminar Series - Tracy Bowen and Max Evans

Friday, October 12, 2018 12:30to13:30
Peel 3661 3661 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1X1, CA

Title: What does knowledge look like (thus far)?



  1. Prof. Tracey Bowen, Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology, University of Toronto Mississauga
  2. Prof. Max Evans, School of Information Studies, McGill University



The most common tools individuals use to articulate complex and abstract concepts are written and spoken language, long privileged as primary forms of communication. However, explanations of these concepts may be more aptly communicated through visual means, such as drawings. Our multidisciplinary research study explores this idea by asking participants (aged 5-65+) to draw what they thought knowledge looks like on a 5.5 x 11-inch cardstock.


Over the last five years we have collected and analyzed over 1,300 drawings from the University of Toronto Mississauga, the Ontario Science Centre (OSC), the Toledo Museum of Art, and the Danish Institute for Study Abroad, Copenhagen. Our analysis has focused on interpreting graphic representation types in the drawings and analyzing the graphic objects individuals use to depict and communicate the abstract concept of knowledge.


This seminar will focus on the research we have completed thus far and briefly outline the next steps. Specifically, we will discuss how we used Engelhardt’s (2002) graphic classification typology and further explored grouping and linking diagrams (i.e., how participants combined and arranged common graphic objects) using Tversky’s (2011; 2015) theories for constructing meaning through diagrams. We will also discuss how we approached (and plan to further explore) understanding and analyzing the use of metaphors and symbols in drawings. Our most recent analysis builds on primary and visual metaphor theory, and looks to adapt the Master Metaphor List (MML) created by Lakeoff and colleagues (1991).


Come spend the afternoon checking out some of our favourite drawings of knowledge and maybe even draw one yourself!



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