chapter  3
Prototypes in dynamic meaning construal
Editors’ preface
ByRaymond W. Gibbs, Jr
Pages 14

This chapter is the first of two in this collection to be written by a cognitive psychologist, rather than by an author whose central interests are based in either cognitive linguistics or cognitive poetics. Here, Raymond W. Gibbs, Jr discusses the role of prototypes in the construction of meaning and presents some significant challenges to accepted thought on readers’ use of their existing knowledge during the reading process. Gibbs suggests that, contrary to popular belief, prototypes are not fixed mental representations of generalised experiences but are dynamic and creatively composed structures, fundamentally based on immediate, individual contexts. His argument forms a provocative counterpoint to the summary and application of prototype theory put forward by Stockwell (2002a: ch.3). Read alongside Gerard Steen’s analysis of cognitive scenarios in love poetry in Chapter 6 and Peter Crisp’s discussion of conceptual metaphor in Chapter 8, this chapter also provides a further fascinating insight into the cognitive psychology of literary reading.