The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

The Context Model for Metaphorical Conceptualization of University Education in John Henry Newman’s The Idea of a University (1852)

Adam Warchoł, Maria Curie-Sklodowska University (Poland)


The aim of my presentation is to reconstruct the context mental model of John Henry Newman referring to university education, by means of metaphorical conceptualization he used in The Idea of a University (1852) nearly two centuries ago. The theoretical background for the study includes two main research areas: First, Cognitive linguistics with a special focus laid on the Conceptual Metaphor Theory (Kövecses, 2015, p. 190). Second, the sociocognitive theory of discourse, which extends the Critical Discourse Analysis model toward an account of the role of context, beliefs and attitudes in discourse processing (van Dijk, 2009; 2016).
Language users not only construe mental context (pragmatic) models of the events or situations they talk, write, read or hear about, but also of the very communicative situation in which they participate. These mental models consist of a schematic structure, such as setting, participants and action. Kövecses (2015, pp. 197-198) highlights the importance of metaphors in context models: “Metaphors occur in discourse, and context is what leads a conceptual system to the choice of a particular metaphorical expression in a given piece of discourse.”
John Henry Newman had a profound awareness of the historical and cultural origins of universities, in addition to his deep-rooted experience of life at college and of Oxford’s tutorial system. Newman was aware of religious Liberalism, Latitudinarianism and Indifferentism. Discussing these issues, Newman uses conceptual metaphors, referring to university education, learning, mind, preacher / educator, and knowledge. These educational metaphors form three main networks, which are structured on the basic metaphors. All these metaphors make a reference to different spheres of human life, including: the political and economic life, the social sphere, the religious, philosophical and everyday aspects of human life. The conceptual metaphors Newman used in The Idea of a University contribute greatly to the structure of the context model introduced by Van Dijk’s (2009, p. 39). Thanks to Kövecses’s (2015, pp. 194-195) set of questions, the reconstruction of the context mental model of that time seems to be plausible.

Keywords: university, education, metaphor, John Henry Newman, context model.


  • Kövecses, Z. (2015). Where Metaphors Come from? Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Newman, J. H. (1852). The Idea of a University. London: Longmans, Green and Co. Available at: dex.html
  • Van Dijk, T. A. (2009). Society and Discourse. How Social Contexts Influence Text and Talk. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Van Dijk, T. A. (2016). Sociocognitive Discourse Studies. In Richardson, J. and Flowerdew, J. (eds), Handbook of Discourse Analysis. Available at OldArticles/Sociocognitive%20Discourse%20Studies.pdf  London: Routledge.

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