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URPP Language and Space Language and Space Lab

Christoph Hottiger

Christoph Hottiger, Dr

  • Doctoral student SNSF Video Group

Christoph Hottiger is a doctoral student at the URPP Language and Space.

Provisional title: Doing Reading in Interaction - A Conversation Analytical Investigation of the Interactive Use of Exhibit Texts in a Science Centre (PhD Project)

My PhD project is part of the larger project Interactive discoveries: A video and eye-tracking based study of knowledge construction in science centres, which is led by Wolfgang Kesselheim and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). The goal of this project is to improve our understanding of visitors' interactive processes of understanding and discovery when they are using hands-on exhibits in the Swiss Science Center Technorama in Winterthur, Switzerland. In order to do so, we employ a methodological framework rooted in multimodally enhanced conversation analysis. In this context, my PhD project focusses on the texts attached to exhibits and the way they are used interactively by visitors to the museum.

This focus on exhibit texts and their use in a science centre was developed in a data-driven way: Our team compiled a corpus of over 35 hours of video and partially eye-tracking data which document interactions of pairs or small groups of visitors in the Technorama. When screening this data, it became clear that despite the museum's explicit focus on hands-on exhibits, visitors rarely did not make some kind of use of exhibit texts during their examination of an exhibit. This indicates that the use of exhibit texts is an important component of the social practice of using exhibits in the Technorama. Therefore, my project focuses precisely on the different techniques of using these texts while interacting at the exhibits.

Analytically speaking, the actual use of the exhibit texts in visitors' interactions takes centre stage. In this process, the methods and concepts developed in conversation analysis, multimodal interaction analysis and workplace studies are used. Questions of interest in this process include the following:

  • What are the exhibit texts used for in interaction? That is to say, what pragmatic use do visitors ascribe to the texts?
  • When are the exhibit texts used? At the beginning of the process of engaging with an exhibit as an instructional tool? Or at the end to look for answers and background information?
  • How are the texts used and how do participants indicate that they are using the texts? For instance, do visitors read passages of text aloud or do they simply mark their reading by mumbling? Are bits of text fed into the participants' verbal interaction after reading and if so, how are they marked as coming from the text (e.g. codeswitching)?
  • How do the participants indicate that their use of the exhibit texts does not constitute a deselection of interaction? For instance, this could be done by positioning the interactants' bodies in specific ways, by marking longer passages of silent reading as accountable, or by marking text usage as a side sequence.
  • How are different types of knowledge gained at the exhibit (practical knowledge gained by using the exhibit vs knowledge acquired by reading the text) negotiated in interaction?

The PhD project is supervised by Wolfgang Kesselheim and Heiko Hausendorf.

Netzwerk Raumtheorien

Christoph Hottiger and Christina Brandenberger chair the so-called “Netzwerk Raumtheorien,” a group of doctoral students and master students who regularly meet to discuss data and theoretical texts related to questions about language and the construction and use of space in interaction.

Workshops organised

9.11.2020 - 12.11.2021

Zurich Online School in Multimodal Interaction Analysis (ZOSMIA) (with Kristina Eiviler, Kenan Hochuli, Omnia Ibrahim and Petra Marinova)


Doctoral workshop with Arnulf Deppermann (IDS Mannheim), URPP Language and Space, University of Zurich.

Workshop on knowledge in interactionon (Technorama, Winterthur, Switzerland) (with Wolfgang Kesselheim and Christina Brandenberger)

Workshop «Ein Entdecker kommt selten allein» at Scientifica, University of Zurich (with Wolfgang Kesselheim and Chrsitina Brandenberger)

December 2016
Workshop with Federico Rossano, University of Zurich (with Wolfgang Kesselheim, Christina Brandenberger and Kenan Hochuli)

Workshop participation


CARM-Workshop: Conversation Analytic Role-play Method, led by Elizabeth Stokoe (University of Loughborough), University of Freiburg.



Nordic Night Seminar, University of Helsinki (paper: Customer requests at railway station counters).



EMCA Doctoral Network Workshop with Jon Hindmarsh and Dirk vom Lehn (King's College London), King's College London (data session chaired: Interactive text use around exhibits in science centres).


31.10. 2018:

Workshop with Ellen Fricke (TU Chemnitz) and Axel Schmitt (IDS Mannheim): Stadt als Spielfeld, University of Zurich.



Workshop with Anja Stuckenbrock (Universität Lausanne) and Leelo Keevallik (Linköping University), University of Zurich.



Workshop with Arnulf Deppermann (IDS Mannheim), University of Zurich (data session chaired).



Workshop with Heiko Hausendorf (Universität Zürich) and Reinhold Schmitt (IDS Mannheim): Das Abendmahl als Versorgungsproblem: Handlungspraktische Anforderungen und Ritualitätskonstitution im Kirchenraum, University of Zurich.



Workshop with Christian Heath (King's College London), University of Zurich.



Doctoral School, Workshop in Leysin on Question-answer sequences. Speakers: Herbert Clark, Stanford; Mats Ekström, Gothenburg; Joanna Thornborrow, Université de Bretagne Occidentale; Tanya Stivers, UCLA.



Seeing and Noticing - Videoanalyse in Action (V) Gattungen, Formen und Strukturebenen. Graduate School, University of Bayreuth (Data session chaired: Visitor interaction in museums).




65. Arbeitskreis Angewandte Gesprächsforschung: Angewandte Gesprächsforschung: Meilensteine und Desiderate auf dem Weg zu einer Theorie und Praxis der Anwendung, Basel.


02.07.2019 – 05.07.2019

2019 Conference of the International Institute of Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis (IIEMCA), Mannheim. Presentation: Evoking the Institution of the Museum as a Third Party through Reading Exhibit Texts in Interaction.


25.03.2019 – 29.03.2019

6. Jahrestagung des Verbandes Digital Humanities im deutschsprachigen Raum: DHd 2019, multimedial & multimodal, Frankfurt and Mainz. Presentation: Besucherexperimente im Science Center: Welche Einsichten in die Herstellung von Wissen in Interaktion werden erst durch die Zusammenschau von Audio-, Video- und Eye-Tracking-Daten möglich?(with Wolfgang Kesselheim).


Creative Collisions: Ecsite Annual Conference, Geneva. Presentation: Analysing visitors' conversations (with Armin Duff, Wolfgang Kesselheim and Christina Brandenberger).

VALS-ASLA Conference. A Video Turn in Linguistics? University of Basel. Presentation: What is the phenomenon? The multimodal achievement of joint discoveries in science centres (with Wolfgang Kesselheim and Christina Brandenberger).

GAL Sektionentagung der Gesellschaft für Angewandte Linguistik 2017, University of Basel.

Boundaries and Transitions in Language and Interaction: Perspectives from Linguistics and Geography, URPP Language and Space, University of Zurich, MonteVerità, contribution: Poster: Defining the Boundaries of Exhibits in Science Centres – Between Architecture and Visitors’ Usage (with Christina Brandenberger).

Young Researchers Conference of the Centre for Research on Social Interactions (CRSI-YR) 2017, CRSI Doctoral Program, Universität Neuchatel. Presentation: Making Individual Sensorial Experiences Available in Interaction: A Video and Eye-Tracking Based Study of Knowledge Construction in Science Centers (with Christina Brandenberger).

Other Talks


DPL-Colloquium, University of Zurich. Doing Reading in Interaction - A Conversation Analytical Investigation of the Interactive Use of Exhibit Texts in a Science Centre.

Interactive Discoveries. Oder: Wie wird im Technorama gemeinsam Wissen konstruiert? (with Wolfgang Kesselheim and Christina Brandenberger). Staff event of the Swiss Science Center Technorama, Winterthur.

Sharing perception when using hands-on exhibits in science centres: The case of vocal depiction (with Christina Brandenberger). Research afternoon of the URPP Language and Space at University of Zurich – Project presented as part of the research group ‘Interactional Spaces.’


Kesselheim, Wolfgang; Brandenberger, Christina & Hottiger, Christoph (2021): How to Notice a Tsunami in a Water Tank: Joint Discoveries in a Science Center. In: Gesprächsforschung - Online-Zeitschrift zur verbalen Interaktion 22, 87-113.


Kesselheim, Wolfgang; Hottiger, Christoph (2019): Besucherexperimente im Science Center: Welche Einsichten in die Herstellung von Wissen in Interaktion werden erst durch die Zusammenschau von Audio-, Video- und Eye-Tracking-Daten möglich? In: Sahle, Patrick (ed.): DHd 2019 Digital Humanities: multimedial & multimodal. Mainz, Frankfurt a. M., 94-96.


Jucker, Andreas H. et al. (2018): Doing space in face-to-face interaction and on interactive multimodal platforms. In: Journal of Pragmatics 134, 85-101.


Brandenberger, Christina & Hottiger, Christoph (2018): Sharing perception when using hands-on exhibits in science centres: The case of vocal depiction. Travaux neuchâtelois de linguistique 68, 59-68.