Beyond Meaning - International conference - Athens, 13-15 Sept, 2017

gallery/university of brighton

The National and Kapodistrian 
University of Athens

Sept. 13-15, 2017


Verbal activity involves a massive amount of inferential reconstruction, the results of which are sometimes too nebulous to be paraphrased in propositional, conceptual terms. Language use, both in ordinary conversation and in literary works, generates and conveys 'impressions' of various kinds that cannot be explained in terms of the notion of ‘meaning’, classically construed. This conference aims at exploring these phenomena – the territory beyond meaning, which is pervasive in linguistic (and non-linguistic) interpretation. The conference has a focus on cognitive science and we therefore particularly welcome submissions from scholars in linguistics, pragmatics, philosophy, literary studies, cognitive psychology etc. However, submissions are welcome from researchers working in any relevant field of study.    


Contact E-mail:

Conference chairs


Elly Ifantidou,
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Louis de Saussure,
University of Neuchâtel

Tim Wharton,
University of Brighton


Conference leading house:

Beyond Meaning

Keynote speakers



University of York

Nigel FABB

University of Strathclyde


University of Geneva

Deirdre WILSON

University College London

Υπερβαίνοντας τη σημασία

international conference


Location of the conference:


University historical building

30 Panepistimiou Street

Athens center

(midway between Syntagma and Omonia squares)


Underground station:


The interpretation of language,

whether in acts of ordinary communication or in works of literature or poetry, involves a massive amount of inferential reconstruction. It is generally presumed that since inference operates over propositions, what is reconstructed is propositional: in Gricean terminology, a speaker ‘meansNN that p’. But this cannot always be the case. Sometimes, what a speaker intends to convey is too nebulous to be paraphrased in propositional, conceptual terms at all – it is ‘descriptively ineffable’. And a good deal of what is conveyed in communicative acts is quite vague. What a hearer is often able to infer is a weakly implicated, or an array of weakly implicated, impressions: aesthetic experience, emotions or attitudes. Sperber and Wilson (2015) point out that linguists, philosophers and pragmatists have tended to focus their attention on cases that congregate in the top left corner of a square formed by a continuum between showing and meaning and another between determinate and indeterminate meaning. The ineffable, vague aspects of communication, despite that fact that they are crucial to our understanding of language use, have largely been ignored.


The aim of this conference

is to encourage exploration of the territory beyond meaning. How might the descriptive ineffability of expressives, interjections, perspectival interpretations of tenses, intensifiers, figures etc. be accommodated within a more general theory of language use? How might we account for the communication of non-propositional phenomena such as moods, emotions and impressions? Do pauses, creative metaphors, unknown words in L2 and other ‘pointers’ to ‘conceptual regions’ (Carston 2002) communicate concepts? More broadly, what type of cognitive response do these phenomena trigger, if not conceptual-propositional?


The answers to these questions

will also have a range of implications for our understanding types of language use that pursue aims which are not, strictly speaking, communicative: literature and poetry, for example. It could be argued that poetic and literary theorists have fallen into the same trap as linguists. They have traditionally treated literary texts as objects that are designed to be interpreted through the achievement of effects at a conceptual level. But these objects surely involve different kinds of effect: perceptual, emotional, and perhaps others... Moreover, the answers will have implications for how we understand other types of human activities – such as art at large – which involve the instantiation of effects that go ‘beyond meaning’. To ask of an artwork ‘What does it mean?’ might simply be the wrong question: literature and art are about more than mere conceptualizing. It might even be the wrong question to ask of ordinary conversation.


The Beyond Meaning conference

will bring together scholars from linguistics, cognitive psychology, philosophy/aesthetics and the study of literature and art. We aim to broaden the current machinery and scope of pragmatics and cognitive science and perhaps lead to a reconsideration of the notion of meaning itself.



may include, but are not limited to:


  • Linguistic descriptive ineffability

  • Cognition and affect

  • Literary theorizing of emotions and impressions

  • Aesthetic experience

  • Emotions and attitudes in linguistic and non-linguistic representational systems

  • Emotions and understanding

  • The showing-meaning distinction

  • The non-conceptual dimension of figurative meanings




paper submission and important dates

Submissions are invited in English in the following format: one 500 word (max) abstract (excluding references).

Submissions must be uploaded on the Easychair platform exclusively by following this link:


Abstracts submission deadlineApril 1st, 2017.  CLOSED


Notifications to authors will be sent by June 1st, 2017.
Preliminary programme will be available by June 30th, 2017
Final programme will be available by July 30th, 2017
Registration: CLOSED
Should you wish a last-minute registration, please contact the organisers at:

call for papers

Conference programme




Keynote speakers



University of York

Nigel FABB

University of Strathclyde


University of Geneva

Deirdre WILSON

University College London


Social events


Conference by Petros Markaris the evening before the conference (in Greek).

Welcome lunch buffet (to be confirmed): Wednesday, Sept. 13th

Conference dinner: Thursday, Sept. 14th. 













conference venue

conference premises

The conference takes place in Athens, the capital city of Greece. The premises of the conference will be in and around Panepistimiou Street and Akadimias, including the historical building of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. 

Address: 30 Panepistimiou, Athens (Propylaea building)


On Panepistimiou street just out of Panepistimiou metro station, midway between the city center's main squares (Syntagma and Omonia). Historical quarters (Plaka, Monastiraki) and sights (Acropolis, Acropolis museum, Benaki museum...), are one or two metro stations away, and lively areas are also in the vicinity (Omonia, Athinas street, Psyrry, Gazi, and the area of Exarcheia with its lively student atmosphere. 

Metro station: Panepistimiou

Registration and welcome: Historical building. 

Conference premises:

travel and accommodation


Travelling to Athens and getting to the center

Most international airlines as well as low-cost companies fly to Athens international Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos".

From the airport, the rate to the city center by taxi is about 40 euros.

The metro takes about 40 minutes to Syntagma square and departs from the airport every 30 minutes.

A budget bus line, number X95, goes to Syntagma square.  


Recommended Hotels

  • Hotel Kimon, in the old quarter of Plaka. Ideal setting, very nice affordable hotel of medium category. This is our favourite. Rooms are from 50 (single) to 88 (suite) euros. 

  • Parthenon Hotel, higher category hotel conveniently located near the Acropolis. Parthenon hotel offers a special 12% discount for the conference participants. Send an email to mentioning that you are writing to book at Parthenon Hotel (they have several hotels) with discount code CORPACC (only valid for the conference's dates).

  • Hotel Electra on Ermou street, a 4-star hotel excellently located on the edge of Syntagma central square. Hotel Electra offers special prices (single 120€ /night, double 140€/night) for the participants. Mention "Beyond Meaning Conference" when contacting them at with the precision that you are booking at ELECTRA ERMOU (they have other hotels with the name Electra). 

  • Titania Hotel is a beautiful 4-star hotel located near the conference premises, between the University old building and the lively and popular Omonia Square and still at about 15 minutes walk from Syntagma.  

  • Central Hotel Plaka is a beautiful hotel perfectly located between Syntagma and Plaka. 

  • Cypria Hotel is a 4-star hotel ideally located near Ermou and Syntagma. 

  • Athens offer many medium category and budget hotels. We suggest: Hotel Cecil, Hotel Byron. For budget hotels, find an excellent list on Matt Barrett's Greek guide.


Athens university historical building in Athens centre

Greek travel pages
Visit Greece



Conference chairs

Elly Ifantidou, Department of English language and literature, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.

Louis de Saussure, Institute of Language and communication sciences & Cognitive science centre, University of Neuchatel.

Tim Wharton, College of Arts and Humanities, University of Brighton.


Members of the organizing committee

Local members (Athens): Agapi Xifara, Phoebe Dimoula (English department, National and Kapodistrian University, Athens).

Other members: Katie McCallum, University of Brighton; Thierry Raeber, University of Brighton & University of Neuchâtel; Misha Müller, University of Neuchâtel.


Nicholas Allott, University of Oslo

Miranda Anderson, University of Edinburgh

Sylvain Briens, Université La Sorbonne, Paris

Andrew Caink, University of Westminster

Siobhan Chapman, University of Liverpool

Paul Chilton, University of Lancaster

Billy Clark, Middlesex University London

Julien Deonna, University of Geneva

Alan Durant, Middlesex University London

Victoria Escandell-Vidal, UNED Madrid

Laurent Gosselin, University of Rouen

Anna Hatzidaki, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Didier Maillat, University of Fribourg

Sophia Marmaridou, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Tomoko Matsui, Institute of Statistical Mathematics, Tokyo

Kiki Nikiforidou, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Manuel Padilla Cruz, University of Seville

Anna Papafragou, University of Delaware

Jesus Romero Trillo, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid

Liana Sakelliou, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Kate Scott, Kingston University 

Fabrice Teroni, University of Geneva

John Wrighton, University of Brighton

Francisco Yus, University of Alicante

Sandrine Zufferey, University of Berne



Registration fees


Registration is now closed.

Normal: 130 Euros

Student: 85 Euros


Anyone wishing to register last minute should contact the organisers.


Conference dinner: 40 Euros payable on site at the registration desk. Please bring the exact amount. Thank you.



registration procedure

Queries and questions should be directed to: