The thematic summer school on “Representations of language and representations of the mind: history and epistemology” will take place from August 30 to September 5 2015 at Hyères in the South of France.

It is organised by the History of Linguistic Theories laboratory (HTL, UMR7597), the EFL (SPC) Labex and the Formal Structures of Language laboratory (SFL, UMR 7023), with the support of CNRS, Université Paris-Diderot and Université Sorbonne Nouvelle.

Scientific purposes

This summer school will bring together historians, practitioners of the language sciences, philosophers, psycholinguists and psychologists in order to facilitate the mutual transmission of expertise and to promote discussion of the connections between theoretical representations of the mind and representations of language and languages. It is the fifth such school organised by UMR 7597 (cf.

Starting from a period which can be dated, not without a certain artifice, to the 1950s, linguistics has made numerous kinds of contact with the disciplines recently baptised “the cognitive sciences”, into the structure of which it has, in fact, often been incorporated. One of the expressions of this convergence is the explosion of research in psycholinguistics, which accompanies the cognitive sciences’ orientation to so-called “higher” processes (categorisation, reasoning, the semantic level of processing, etc.)

1) Just as psycholinguistics took shape well before its name was generalised and identified it as such  (Levelt 2013), theories of the human mind and ideas in linguistics did not wait for the cognitive sciences to enter into dialogue. One section of the summer school will review certain defining “psychologistic” moments of this history, in which the search for a mental foundation for language is articulated: the mediaeval Modists, the “sensualism” originating in Condillac, the psychological linguistics of the second half of the 19th century, and generative and cognitive linguistics. Central objectives will be to explain the constitution of these approaches, and to track their later influence and, as appropriate, the latter day persistence of certain questions.

2) The school also aims to illustrate the state of the art of current research. The workshop on neurolinguistics will allow us to examine the development of this discipline in a context in which the rise of experimental studies in linguistics and the progress in imagery techniques should draw related language sciences (neurolinguistics, linguistic (neuro-)psychology and linguistics) closer together. 

3) Language acquisition is another recently constituted field, which contemporary linguistics has made responsible for high-stakes questions, and in which multiple problematics converge. One such question concerns the modularity of language, i.e. the hypothesis of the autonomous functioning of a language faculty.The question of modularity is connected to other domains, two of which in particular – Theory of Mind and pathology – will be explored.  Theory of Mind (the ability to represent others’ mental states) and pathology inevitably problematize the compartmenalization of the capacities needed for language processing and, as a result, directly concern the connection between the language faculty and cognition. Finally, we will explore the increasingly important role of “embodied cognition” in (neuro-) cognitive research and beyond it (robotics, anthropology and philosophy).


- Researchers, lecturers and ITAs in linguistics (all subfields), history of science, philosophy, information technology, psychology, language and literature…

- Masters and doctoral students, both French and foreign, in linguistics, language and literature, history of linguistic theories, history, history of ideas, philosophy…

- CNRS staff, researchers and lecturers, doctoral schools (linguistics, language and literature…).

Training goals

The tried and tested structure – this is the fifth edition of the school since 2004 – alternates lectures, training workshops and summary sessions. This arrangement creates significant space for discussion and exchange. The “residential” format guarantees that “speakers”, who are also “audience”, are in fruitful proximity, and correspondingly has the advantage of bringing experienced researchers and lecturers together in close reflection with doctoral students and young researchers. The overall aim is to provide a structure for research training.

The educational format consist of a structure of the socialisation of knowledge and methods which simultaneously presuppose and go beyond particular specialisations. As a structure of “training in and through research” over a brief (but intense) timeframe, it allows the active participation of everyone present: beginning or experienced researchers, students undergoing training, colleagues in various positions, the simply curious…

  • Synthetic dissemination of knowledge

Through its interactive character, the structure facilitates both the dissemination of knowledge and the opening up of perspectives for the communal production of new knowledge.

  • Problematizing presentation of standard assumptions

Through the active participation of organisers, presenters and participants (our preference is for all presenters to also be participants, and to be present for the entire length of the summer school), our reflection on the main themes should be considerably enriched, and will be able to be the object of dissemination to a wider public in the form of a book and on multimedia platforms.

The “summaries” at the end of each day provide the opportunity for doctoral students to present the conclusions and problems of the day for others.

  • A permanent stock of topics

Each workshop is prepared by its presenters, who provide participants beforehand with various working documents. These are put on line at the end of the summer school. The powerpoint presentations made on each of the themes will also be put on line.

CNRS summer schools have a full room and board structure, in order to encourage the involvement and interaction of participants and presenters, meetings and discussions, including outside the timetabled sessions.












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