ENGL1036 Meaning and metaphor

Instructor: Dr Philip Chan

First semester, 2014-15
6 credits
Form of assessment: 100% coursework
2 contact hours per week (Monday, 3:30 íV 5:20)
Prerequisite: A minimum Level 5 in English Language HKDSE exam, or a C grade in the Use of English AS-level exam, or their equivalents.

The course looks at different definitions of metaphor and reviews various theories that have been applied to figurative language. It presents the identification and analysis of metaphor as a tool in the study of texts of all kinds, and introduces approaches which see the study of metaphor as a key to understanding human cognition and experience. The course shows how questions about metaphor are at the heart of debates about meaning and interpretation across the humanities and social sciences, and illustrates the role of metaphor in fundamental ideological discussions. The course equips students to analyse a range of texts in terms of metaphor and gives them a grounding in longstanding debates about meaning, interpretation and the relationship of language to reality.



Definitions of metaphor; Literal vs. metaphorical meaning; Metaphor and metonymy; Nonlinguistic realizations of conceptual metaphors; The scope of metaphor; Metaphor, politics, & ideology; Metaphor in literature; Metaphor in education; Metaphor in music.

  1. to identify metaphors in a sample sentence or text;
  2. to gain a grasp of the basic terminology in the domain to figurative language;
  3. to discuss how debates about metaphor are key to contemporary debates in domains such as politics and economics;
  4. to analyse metaphors and evaluate their functions in different contexts.

The course will comprise lectures, seminars and class activities. 

100% coursework consisting of:

  • Individual Essay (60 %)
  • Group Project – oral presentation and written report (30 %)
  • Participation in class activities: (10 %)

There is no textbook, but the primary reading is Z. Kövecses (2010). Metaphor: a practical introduction. Oxford: OUP Press. This is available as an e-book through the library.
Additional reading will be provided at the beginning of the course.


Last updated: 18 July 2014